The best place to begin with I guess is who I am. Well my name is Mark Newton. I was born and raised in Lancashire England, quite close to coast. As a kid I had a pretty good upbringing really. I got taken to the scouts, swimming lessions, had some family holidays in Cornwall where I did a bit of body boarding. My dad used to scuba dive, and when it was too rough to dive he had an older fiberglass topper which he used to go sailing in.
Eventually, I forget how, I ended up going sailing with him quite a few times on holiday in Keswick. That was pretty good fun. I guess my dad liked it a lot as well, so at some point we joined Southport Sailing Club, and I learnt to sail this Topper and race it. Eventually we moved to the other club on the lake West Lancashire YC which holds the 24 hour race every year.
After a few years there I moved to sailing a Laser. I went to University at Edgehill and got a 2:2 in Business Information Systems (Bsc). Not sure I could have done anything else at university, I am not really that achademically minded. After I graduated I ended up working for talk talk for a while in a call center on their first line troubleshooting help desk.
However, I had previously applied to do a seaon with Minorca Sailing. This is probably one of the most high end dinghy sailing centers anywhere in the world. They had every kind of production sailing dinghy you could imagine, all the RS boats, Laser boats and lot of Ovington stuff as well. As a sailing nut, it was the perfect place to be. My first week there was spent in a rib with Laser coaching legend Mark Littlejohn (he used to be Ben Anslies training partner, and coached Shirely Robertson amongst others).
After a brief year trying to make it in a real job as a very junior Oracle DBA, I got an offer to go and work for Minorca Sailing again. I went and tried to do the impossible task of trying to keep their fleet of boats in good working order. Its not easy trying to keep 200 boats working properly, and over the 4 years that I did this job I learnt a lot. A lot about managing my expecations I guess.
Eventually I needed a break from this, and as I had been spending some of my time in between seasons working for 2ndhanddinghies.co.uk I went to work for them on the south coast refurbishing boats. I have to say, they are really good people, and I consider Ian and his family to be like family to me. I have helped them out at the dinghy show for the last couple of years demonstratinig how to do basic fixes. I learnt a lot working with them, including the basics of how to spray a boat.
Eventually I had to move on, so I ended up working for Pinnel and Bax - the legendary sail maker. I have to say, I learnt an awful lot in the 2 years I was there. I cannot over-estimate just how much I learnt. I was fortunate enough to be tought be another legend in the industry, Daren Maple. Daren had worked on all sorts of stuff, he had made the old Whitbread (now volvo) yachts out of Kevlar, developed a lot of the processes that Selden use, and even made a set of foils for Ellen Mcarthers caterman.
Here I learnt:
- How to do full scale insurance repairs
- How to use a vacuum bag to glue in cores
- How to spray gel coat and other paints effectively using mini guns and air brushes
- Some of the secrets about colour matching
- The importance of using the correct laminates
Some of the projects that we did there where unbelievable, and I wish I had taken more pictures. A year or two down the line, they employed a great guy called Matther Richardson, and had a set of moulds for a solo and a scropion. Being involved in those projects, was great. I helped out with most stages of the build:
- Cleaning up the moulds and repairing them if required
- Gelcoating the moulds - sound easy, but painting with a time limit is not as easy as it sounds, and this is one of the most critical areas of the build...miss a spot and you end up with a sup standard product already
- Vacuuming the core in
- 2nd stage lamination
- Glue all the bits together!
Eventually I ended up moving back to be closer to my parents, but in 2016 I did another seaon for Minorca Sailing as their equipment manger. I have to say it was a bit of an odd experence, as I think I was fairly old really to be out there. However it was a sucessful one I think. The client questionnaires (the only real way to measure my efforts) revealed that there was 10% improvement overall in the quality and availablity of the equipment.
But now work again for Ian Jubb, this time for sailboat trailers. We build road trailers and trolleys for various dinghies, supplying RS, Ovington, Topper as well as Rooster sailing.
I am spending as much time as I can developing this website. Its hard to do though when you work full time as well, hence progress is slow I guess. I feel that this is something that sailing needs. Its the ability to have everything in one place making it easier to research your sailing and get the most out of it. The big problem with sailing is that there is a lot of bar or dinghy park talk about different boats and everyone has their own opinion. The problem with this is that it can be quite localised. At least this way everyones opinions are out in the open.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your sailing!