Suffolk sailmakers launches recruitment drive as pandemic buoys UK boating market

Brian Fennessy, manager of sailmaker OneSails GBR (East)'s  loft at Levington 

Brian Fennessy, manager of sailmaker OneSails GBR (East)'s in the loft at Levington - Credit: OneSails

A Suffolk sailmaker’s fortunes have been lifted as more people take up boating in UK waters.

Levington-based OneSails GBR (East) is looking to expand its 15-strong workforce by another four people as demand soars.

The business – based at Suffolk Yacht Harbour on the River Orwell – says it has seen a “substantial growth” in orders.

A OneSails sail being attached to a boat

Sailmakers from Levington-based OneSails attaching a sail to a boat - Credit: OneSails

The expansion is aimed at meeting demand from boat owners as figures from UK marine trade association British Marine show new and used boat sales growth of 9% in 2020 – a reversal of an 8% decline in 2019. 

Between June and the end of December 2020, boat sales grew by more than 50% compared to the same period in 2019, according to the association.

OneSails loft manager Brian Fennessy said the pandemic appeared to have had an effect.

“We would normally see a quieter time in the autumn as people ready their boats for the winter, but since Covid began that hasn’t been the case,” he said.

A boat sail being made at Levington marina

A sailmaker at work at OneSails GBR (East)'s loft at Levington - Credit: OneSails

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“Last year, the demand for new sails, sail repairs and custom boat covers was significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels. This trend is not only applicable to our loft, but it is also being reported across the global OneSails network.” The new opening at the loft are for a variety of roles for junior and experienced candidates, who will join its team of skilled sail and cover makers and rigging specialists.

“Projects vary from working on small, local cruising yachts to world-class superyachts, so there is plenty of scope to learn and develop. We encourage our team to get out on the water as much as possible, so existing sailing experience is beneficial but not essential,” said Mr Fennessy.

A sail being made in Levington marina

A sailmaker at work at OneSails GBR (East)'s loft at Levington marina - Credit: OneSails

OneSails (GBR) East sail loft – which is overseen by experienced sailor John Parker – is part of the global OneSails group.  It specialises in custom sails and covers for boats ranging from keelboats up to superyachts.