Please select your home edition
Edition
Hyde Sails 2017 Dinghy Show

Squibs, Skiffs and Illusions: The diverse sailing of Hyde Sails' Jack Grogan

by Mark Jardine on 15 Mar 15 March 2017
Jack Grogan at the helm of the Hyde Sails 18ft Skiff © Hyde Sails

We spoke to Jack Grogan of Hyde Sails about how he first got into sailing, the life-long friends that has provided, his 18ft Skiff and Squib sailing, his role at Hyde Sails in the burgeoning covers and accessories department, and also how he will be competing in the Illusion National Championship this weekend at Bembridge.

Mark Jardine: How did you get into sailing?

Jack Grogan: At a very young age; I was 8 years old. I live on an island on the East Coast of the UK, a small island with a small community, and as a social group sailing is what we did. Parents dropped us off, my father bought me an Optimist (which I'm not sure was even an Optimist! It was square, made of fibreglass and called an Optique I believe, it weighed a lot). The friends I grew up with sailing then are still my friends now, based from Dabchicks Sailing Club on Mersea Island. That's how it all started for me.

Mark: Your sailing then, was it all about the fun?

Jack: Yes. We had quite serious fleet separation, we had Port and Starboard fleets and then went onto Silver and Gold in the Optimists. As you progressed through the ranks and moved out of Optimists, I moved into a Byte, which had the perception then of being a girls' boat, but was one of the most challenging sails I've ever had, and then into the 29ers. The big goal then was winning your local cadet week, which for us on the East Coast was enormous.

Mark: You've had quite a time with a number of 18ft Skiffs through the years. What was your sailing like in this class?

Jack: Put simply, I think it's the best sailing that you'll ever do. I race keelboats regularly now, but the 18ft Skiff is the only boat that you can go and sail in a straight line, upwind or downwind, with just you and crew and it's still completely satisfying. The keelboats which I sail now, which are slower, a bit clunky, and not so cool and trendy, you get the fix from that by having the close racing, which you don't necessarily get in the 18ft Skiffs as the gains and losses are huge. But going in a straight line in an 18ft Skiff just can't be beaten.

Mark: Talking of keelboats, you are the reigning Squib National Champion with your father Nigel. Can you tell me a bit about that?

Jack: The Squib sailing has been part of my life for too many years already, but for nearly all of my dad's life! I'm actually a third generation Squib sailor, and the reason I live where I do in the country was because my dad persuaded my grandad to move there so they could sail in the local Squib fleet. So my dad sailed with my grandad in a Squib, and then I started sailing with my dad in it. As a result it's been something my dad's been absolutely mad-keen on - winning the nationals - and finally last year we managed to actually put it together enough to get the job done and win the title.

Regarding the close racing, I don't think it can be beaten. The Squib gets stick for having brown sails, but there are some extremely talented sailors in the fleet, from ex-Olympians to current World and National Champions in the fleet; it's really, really tight, everyone goes the same speed and it has massive fleets.

Mark: Working for Hyde Sails - you don't just make sails, you also make a huge number of covers and accessories - you have a major part to play in that side of the business. What does that involve for you?

Jack: My role is effectively making 3D shapes out of cloth that aren't sails. It's very diverse: we've made things for the McLaren Formula 1 team, including bags to take all their overalls and equipment between races, through to seat belts for babies in New York taxis. The bread and butter of that side of the business is boat covers, where we make a huge number and generally buy 30 kilometres of material per year. We've made this side of the business go from strength to strength.

We also make kitesurfing kites - overall our range of products is huge!

Mark: The Hyde Sails Loft in Cebu, Philippines, has just been increased in size, with another 30% added to the floor space. As well as the growth in sail production, has this also been needed due to the growth in sales of covers and accessories?

Jack: Absolutely. It's one of the areas where we are really busy. The loft space is now the equivalent of 25 tennis courts in size; it blows my mind when I visit and see it and see how clinical the whole operation is. The space is necessary for the increase in demand that we've experienced over the last 18 months; it really has taken off.

Mark: Next up you're competing in the Illusion National Championship at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, in the singlehanded, sit-in keelboat which looks like a tiny 12m yacht. You've had two Illusions in the family for quite some time, so what has made you take the step to actually go to the championship?

Jack: It's something I've always wanted to do. I've had an Illusion since I was 11, but it's never been used by me, it's always been used by my father and his friends, or as a Boat Show exhibit on our stand! However, I've been following all the event reports on YachtsandYachting.com and I've been thinking since I've got one of these boats I can't not go!

Sailing one keeps you very sharp throughout the winter; we sail them on the East Coast and get our practice that way, getting used to steering with your feet rather than your arms, but it means we can roll up to our first Squib or dinghy event and feel race-sharp and ready to go.

Mark: Best of luck in the Illusion Championship. We'll be following and reporting on the event with great interest! Many thanks for your time; it's great to hear about your role at Hyde Sails and your own sailing.

Jack: Thank you very much!

www.hydesails.co.uk

Related Articles

The new generation of foiling sailor
We talk to Richard Mason Richard Mason is a Musto Clothing Ambassador and one of the up-and-coming sailors in the modern foiling classes. We spoke to him after the UK Moth Nationals in Paignton about his sailing in the Moth and on the Extreme Sailing Series. Posted on 27 Jun
Kiwis win the 35th America's Cup
7-1 victory for Emirates Team New Zealand Emirates Team New Zealand have won the 35th America's Cup in emphatic fashion. A 7-1 victory over ORACLE TEAM USA was a fair result for the total dominance Peter Burling and his team have shown throughout this campaign. Posted on 26 Jun
America's Cup Endeavour Junior Regattas
Fantastic sailing for the RS Fevas in Bermuda For the first time at an America's Cup there has been a Junior Regatta alongside the main event. The brain child Sir Russell Coutts, and run by the Endeavour Program this event was designed to inspire the next generation of young sailors. Posted on 26 Jun
ORACLE TEAM USA unplugged
Defenders win their first 35th America's Cup match race The American team have clearly been busy during the five days off between races in the 35th America's Cup... very busy. The Kiwi's much-heralded upwind VMG speed advantage would seem to be gone completely as ORACLE TEAM USA have made significant gains. Posted on 24 Jun
From Thai boxer to Moth sailor
We speak to Kyle Stoneham Kyle Stoneham is one of the real characters on the International Moth circuit. Having recently sold his business, Kyle is able to spend more time on his foiling sailing, so we caught up with him to find out more... Posted on 21 Jun
Clipper CEO set for Prudential RideLondon 100
William Ward's challenge to support official race charity Unicef UK The Clipper Race's official charity is UNICEF, and this year the teams are aiming to raise £400,000. Clipper's CEO, William Ward, has worked closely with Unicef UK and its global offices, experiencing first-hand the vital work it does. Posted on 19 Jun
What can ORACLE TEAM USA do?
About Kiwi domination in the 35th America's Cup Match Emirates Team New Zealand have won the first four races in the 35th America's Cup Match. There has been the odd close moment, but the Kiwis have undoubtedly been faster on every point of sail, simply sailing away from ORACLE TEAM USA. Posted on 19 Jun
America's Cup Endeavour Junior Regattas
We speak to RS Sailing's Jon Partridge in Bermuda We talk about what the regattas are hoping to achieve, how education plays a major part in the Endeavour Programme, and what can be learned from the event to help encourage increased participation in sailing. Posted on 15 Jun
Interview with Team Allen's George Hand
A perfect start to his Musto Skiff season George Hand of Team Allen is having a superb season so far in the Musto Skiff: undefeated since the Inland Championship at Grafham Water last November. We speak to him about his plans for the season and being a part of Team Allen. Posted on 13 Jun
Is the top end of the sport aspirational?
America's cup capturing the interest of young sailors With the America's Cup going on, I - amongst many other sailors - have been in two minds as to whether the event is working to get more people into sailing, in particular young would-be sailors. Posted on 12 Jun