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Phone 09 407 8153 Email info@willissails.co.nz

About us

Willis Sails: Your world class sailmaker in the Bay of Islands

Since 1983, Willis Sails has been designing and building world class racing sails and cruising sails in the Bay of Islands.

Established by renowned sailmaker Simon Willis, Willis Sails quickly gained a reputation among blue water cruisers for building fast sails that last. Since 2007, the company has been run by Craig Gurnell – an apprentice of Simon Willis. Craig ensures that Willis Sails continues to live up to its name, making high performance cruising and racing sails that are built to last.

Why choose Willis Sails as your sailmaker?

Volvo Ocean Race & America’s Cup sailmakers

When you build sails for Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup boats, there’s no room for error. Our experience working for the world’s top boats and crews means you can be sure you’re dealing with some of the very best sailmakers in the business.

Latest sail making technology

Advances in sail design and cutting technology mean we can now build sails more accurately than ever before, and replicate them exactly when required. At Willis Sails, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of the latest sail making technology, including ProSail plotters and sail design software.

Every sail designed & built in NZ

While the sailmaking industry trends more towards outsourcing, we’re proud to design and build every sail in our own loft, right here in NZ. In doing so, we can consult with you in detail about the design of your sail, and assure you the highest quality end product

Sails that are built to last

Ask any of our blue water cruising customers why they buy Willis Sails, and they’ll give you the same answer. Willis sails are built to last. Some might say we over-engineer our sails, but when you’re in the middle of an ocean, you need to know they won’t let you down.

Sails delivered anywhere in the world

We can, and regularly do, ship sails to customers outside of New Zealand. So whether you’re cruising in the Pacific Islands, or even further afield, you can still enjoy the quality and dependability of Willis sails.

Every customer matters

As an independent sailmaker, we value every customer as highly as the next. Every boat owner has unique needs and wants, so we take the time to find these out. We’ll also visit your boat up wherever possible, so you can leave the measuring up to us.

Contact us today

Meet our sailmakers

Craig Gurnell

Craig is a highly experienced craftsman who has been making sails since leaving school. He began in the loft he owns today, as an apprentice at Simon Willis Sails. After completing his apprenticeship, he went on to work in many major lofts in New Zealand and around the world.

Craig’s sailing experience includes years of dinghy and keelboat sailing, including thousands of miles offshore and coastal sailing.

No stranger to high profile yacht racing campaigns, Craig worked for Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean team in the 2005/06 Volvo Ocean Race. He then went on to join Emirates Team New Zealand during their challenge for the 32nd Americas Cup in Valencia.

David Ferris

Like Craig, Dave has also been sailmaking since leaving school, and also completed an apprenticeship with Simon Willis Sails. He too went on to work for some of the biggest lofts in New Zealand, where he was responsible for building sails for some of the largest superyachts ever built.

Dave was a coach and sailmaker for NZ’s Yngling team in the build-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also worked for Americas Cup teams Team Origin and Emirates Team New Zealand.

Sailing from a young age in NZ’s dinghy classes and keelboats, Dave has amassed a huge amount of inshore, coastal and offshore sailing experience.