Ullman Sails has a rich and diverse history dating back nearly 50 years. Our story defines us and shapes our future. Learn where we came from and where we are going.
Founding Year, 1967: 50 years ago in November of 1967 21-year-old Southern California native David Ullman founded the first Ullman Sails loft in the coastal town of Corona Del Mar.
The loft was a small 37m2 office space with a single sewing machine. The first sails bearing his blue and red logo were made for a popular local dinghy, the Lido 14, and the sails won their first race.
David learned how to make sails for five years prior to founding Ullman Sails at the local Baxter and Cicero loft. Even at the very beginning of his career, David’s success on the water was the best promotion for his sails as seen in this advertisement from 1965.
Year 1, 1968: David Ullman quickly expanded his loft space in Corona Del Mar from 37m2 to 400m2 to accommodate a bigger floor, which enabled him to do larger sail repairs. He continued to build most new sails for local dinghies in which he actively competed, including Naples Sabots, Lido 14s, and Snipes.
Image: Corona Del Mar in the late 1960s was simply a small, quiet coastal town, mostly viewed as a place people could retreat from Los Angeles. In the bottom right you can see part of Balboa Yacht Club where Dave has been a member his entire adult life. #UllmanSails50th
Every Thursday in 2017 we will share the highlights of each year in Ullman Sails’ history using the #UllmanSails50th. Be sure to check back each week for more!
Year 2, 1969: At age 23 David Ullman wins his first two U.S. National Championships – the first in the Lido 14, and the second in the Naples Senior (18+) Sabot. David was dominant in both classes in his early career. He currently holds 12 National Championship titles between the two classes (and there are some who believe he could grab another if he hopped back in the class!).
Image: Lido 14 #2787, likely built in 1967. The class, which started in 1958 (produced by W D Schock Performance Sailboats), was immediately popular. By 1969 over 3,500 boats had been produced – mostly for racers and cruisers in Southern California. The Lido 14 class remains popular today with over 60 teams competing in the 2016 Class Championships.
We think the photo shown here is of David. The Lido 14 and Sabot are a major part of Southern California sailing heritage.
Year 3, 1970: In 1970 David Ullman went on to win his third National Championship – claiming the Lido 14 National Championship for the second year in a row.
Image: Lido 14s powering downwind in a local regatta in Newport Beach, California. Ullman Sails’ dominance in the Lido 14 has continued for decades with teams using Ullman Sails winning the majority of the class’s National Championships over the last 50 years – including 2016’s winner Bruce Golison.
Year 4, 1971: David Ullman continued to dominate the local Southern California dinghy circuit winning the Lido 14 National Championship for the third year in a row and taking his second Senior Sabot National Championship in three years. The two victories brought his National Championship titles to 5 total at the age of 25.
At this time Dave was starting to look for sailing outside of Southern California, he just had to find the right class…
Image: David around this time (date not available) rocking his classic mustache.
Year 5, 1972: David Ullman’s dominance in the Lido 14 and Sabot classes continued – winning his fourth consecutive Lido 14 National Championship and his third Senior Sabot National Championship in four years. These victories brought his championship total to seven at age 26.
However, David would not stop there. In 1972 Dave set his sights on the 470 Class. The 470 fit David’s size and mentality – it was small and the highest performance boat at the time. It was not that expensive and had the best competition in the world. He would go on to start his first Olympic Campaign in the class.
Image: David Ullman practicing in the 470 class in Long Beach, California – the site of much of David’s sail testing for the 470 and other one design classes.
Year 6, 1973: David Ullman wins his first Snipe National Championship bringing his National Championship count to eight. This year Dave also moves the original loft in Corona Del Mar, California to a new location on the Newport Beach Peninsula – a full sailmaking facility with 3 stories of production potential. David wondered how they would ever keep the doors open in such a big space.
Image: David Ullman sailing in the Snipe class around this time.
Year 7, 1974: David Ullman needed to expand his team to accommodate the new space and rapidly growing volume for his National Championship-winning sails. In 1974 David brought on the legendary Jeff Lenhart. After David out-sailed Jeff in the 1973 Snipe Nationals Jeff thought – well – if you can’t beat them, join them!
Jeff’s sailing resume was strong before joining Ullman Sails and has only grown since. Jeff won the 1981 Snipe World Championships, two Snipe North American Championships, a Finn North Americans, and has a Sabot National Championship title to his name. Jeff has also taken second place at nine Snipe National Championships. You can still find Jeff at the Ullman Sails Newport Beach loft building sails today.
Image: Jeff sailing a Lido 14 in a regatta on Mission Bay in San Diego, California
Years 8 and 9, 1975-76: Over the span of these two years David Ullman only continued his dominance on the racecourse – his results now quickly expanding across a larger breadth of classes. In 1975 David and Jeff Lenhart sailed together at the Snipe Pan-American games where they took Gold. David also established his strength in the 470 class – claiming his second North American Championship title in1975. In 76′ Dave claimed his fourth Lido 14 National Championship title.
Image: David and Jeff at the medal ceremony after the 1975 Pan Am games.
Year 10 – 1977: Ten years after opening his loft David Ullman won his first World Championship sailing the 470 in Shizuoka, Japan. Competing with crew Tom Linskey, the pair didn’t win a single race in the regatta and were never the first around the first windward mark. By sailing conservatively the team was able to come out ahead. In the same year, David also won his fifth Lido 14 National Championship title.
Image: David Ullman and Tom Linskey in the 1970s
Year 11 – 1978: David Ullman, along with crew Tom Linskey claimed their second consecutive 470 World Championship title in Marstrand, Sweden. Again the pair won the title without winning a single race – a testament to “The Ullman System”. Tom described the system in a Seahorse Magazine article as a “conservative, play-the-odds, play-the-fleet, no-bad-races philosophy.” Of course, Tom also shared that it wasn’t just the system, “I’ve never worked harder in a race than in any of the races – any leg of any of the races – that I sailed during eight years with Dave.” David’s system and hard work extended beyond just the 470 though. In 1978 David continued his rein in the Lido 14, winning his sixth National Championship title in the class.
Image: David Ullman at a 470 event rocking a classic Helly Hansen spray top
Check out the Tom’s reflections on the Seahorse Magazine article by clicking here.
Year 12 – 1979: At age 33 David Ullman brought on the first satellite loft for Ullman Sails – with Kelson Elam (an impressive Flying Dutchman competitor), to establish Ullman Sails Dallas. In 1979 David and Tom Linskey also sailed their third consecutive 470 World Championship, in which they narrowly missed an overall win due to a Black Flag penalty late in the regatta. The winner of the event, however, was David’s good friend Miyuki Kai (who used his own sails). Miyuki would establish Ullman Sails’ first loft in Japan in 1981.
Image: David Ullman and Tom Linskey powering downwind in the 470 with Tom on the trapeze.
Year 14 – 1981: Marcos Soares, who had just recently won a Gold Medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in the 470 class (using David’s sails) joins Ullman Sails as Ullman Sails Rio. In the same year, David Ullman enters the Admiral’s Cup scene – racing to first place in the S.O.R.C. and Admiral’s Cup Trials sailing ‘Stars & Stripes’ with Stan Honey. At the regatta itself, David placed as the top American boat at the event. In the same year Miyuki Kay (1979 470 World Champion) joins as Ullman Sails Japan.
‘Hannaho’ (the first Santa Cruz 50 with a full Ullman Sails inventory) would be first to finish in the Santa Cruz 50 class that year’s Transpacific Yacht Race and second on corrected time by 4 seconds.
Image: Marcos Soares’ loft in Brazil featured a green and yellow logo.
Year 15 and 16 – 1982-1983: In 1982 David Ullman wins his eighth Lido 14 National Championship, and in the following year he would compete in the Admiral’s Cup again, this time providing sails for and sailing ‘Shenandoah’. David would again place as the top American boat at the event.
Image: David would sometimes take notes on panel sizes and lengths on the sail itself, only signing it off once it was approved to go to the customer – this sail, a Lido 14 was approved January 21, 1983.
Year 17 – 1984: Ullman Sails San Diego, Ullman Sails Ventura, and Ullman Sails UK all join Ullman Sails, vastly expanding Ullman Sails’ global reach. In the Olympics Luis Doreste and Roberto Molina of Spain win Gold at the 1984 Olympics in the 470 Class using a partial inventory of Ullman Sails, while Steve Benjamin and Chris Steinfeld of the U.S.A. take silver with a full inventory.
Image: Ian Southworth, Founder of Ullman Sails UK, skippering in the 470 in the 1980s.
In 1986 David Ullman pens the famous article ” ‘Get the Pros Out of Racing” in Sailing World which is a debate that may be even more relevant today than ever before. You can read the full article here: http://
Image: One of David Ullman’s first big-boat projects, Peter Tong’s Santa Cruz 70 ‘Blondie’
Year 20 – 1987: David Ullman competes in his third and final Admiral’s Cup regatta, sailing ‘Blue Yankee’ with a full Ullman Sails inventory. Also in 1987, David stops sailing the 470 and instead looks to begin his Olympic coaching career with U.S. 470 Olympic hopefuls John Shadden and Charles McKee.
Image: David Ullman and team sailing ‘Blue Yankee’ during the 1987 Admiral’s Cup_
Year 21 – 1988: Ullman Sails had its biggest presence to-date in Olympic sailing, helping power winners of the Olympic trials in 18 different countries. One set of winners included Americans John Shadden and Charles McKee, who David Ullman coached to a bronze medal in the 470 class at the 1988 Games in South Korea. Brothers Tõnu and Toomas Tõniste took silver sailing for USSR in the 470 with full Ullman Sails inventory.
Year 22 – 23 – 1989 – 1990: In this time David Ullman wins his first Acura Key West Race Week aboard the MORC 30 ‘Babe Ruthless’. At the same time Ullman Sails also expanded significantly – now with USA locations in Newport Beach, San Diego, Ventura, Long Beach, Sarasota, Dallas, and Atlanta; and international locations in Italy, Brazil, Japan, Monaco, Norway, and Mexico.
Image: The first suit of Ullman Sails by Peter Hoeg in Ullman Sails Norway for a Beneteau First Class 8 in 1990
Year 24 – 1991: Giorgio Zuccoli joins Ullman Sails as Ullman Sails Iseo (Italy). Giorgio, a top Italian sailor during the 80’s and 90’s. He won the Tornado Worlds in 1991, Italian Olympian representative in the Tornado class for Italy in 1988 and 1992 and won Melges 24 Worlds in September 2000. Giorgio was a great friend of David Ullman and had a major impact on both Ullman Sails and the people in his life.
Image: Giorgio Zuccoli immediately after the finish of the 2000 Melges 24 World Championship win
Year 25 – 1992: David is again a U.S. Olympic Sailing Coach, this time coaching Jennifer (J.J.) Isler
and Pamela Healy in the Women’s 470 class to a bronze medal. In the Men’s 470, Morgan Reeser
Kevin Burnham sailed to a silver medal also using Ullman Sails. In the same year, David took 1st place in the Lipton Cup sailing for Balboa Yacht Club.
In addition to the Olympic medals, between 1991 and 1992 Ullman Sails helps power World Championship titles in at least five classes including the Contender, Flying Dutchman, Men and Woman’s 470, and the Tornado.
Image: A painting given to David Ullman by one of his customers – the portrait still hangs at the loft at Ullman Sails Newport Beach today.
Year 26 – 1993: David Ullman takes his second Lipton Cup title, again sailing for Balboa Yacht Club. In the same year, he also incorporated Ullman Sails International to formally manage the growing international lofts network – a big step forward for the group and its organization.
Image: The San Diego Yacht Club Lipton Cup Trophy – which carries David Ullman and Balboa Yacht Club’s names six times consecutively from 1992 to 1997.
Year 27 – 28 – 1994-1995: In addition to David Ullman winning the Lipton Cup title for the third and fourth consecutive years, David also took 1st at Acura Key West Race Week in the Melges 24 for the first time. And, in 1995 Bruce Hollis and Ullman Sails Sydney joined Ullman Sails.
Image: Bruce Hollis sailing a Beneteau First 44.7 ‘Moololabah’ in Sydney, Australia.
Year 29 – 1996: In a big year for David he wins his second consecutive Acura Key West Race Week in the Melges 24 and fifth consecutive Lipton Cup title. In the same year, David was also honored with the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
Image: David Ullman receiving his Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award.
Year 30-31 – 1997-1998: in 1997 David Ullman proved himself unstoppable as he claimed his third consecutive Acura Key West Race Week in the Melges 24 and sixth consecutive Lipton Cup for Balboa Yacht Club. The following year Ullman Sails introduced its first FiberPath sails exclusively for grand prix racers. Of course today FiberPath sails are far more sophisticated than they once were and are a staple of many of Ullman Sails’ product series – for cruisers and racers alike.
During this time, with Olympic sailing behind him, David was looking for the next opportunity to push his sailing…
Image: David Ullman, Steve Shaw, and Pease Glaser at Acura KWRW. Note David’s classic old-school laptop. David used this and other computers for three-dimensional sail design.
–Year 32 – 1999: David Ullman joined the coaching staff of America’s Cup challenger ‘America True’ in New Zealand. Led by Dawn Riley, ‘America True’ was the first syndicate in history to be headed by a woman and the first to have a co-ed crew. Joining the campaign was also David’s first real taste of what would become modern-day professional sailing.
Image: ‘America True’ (USA) match racing ‘Nippon Challenge’ (JPN) in the lead up to the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup.
Year 33 – 2000: In addition to helping coach ‘America True’ David would do private coaching for the USA 470 Men and Woman Olympic teams. The two teams would earn silver medals at the Olympics using full inventories of Ullman Sails. Giorgio Zuccoli also took 1st at the Melges 24 World Championships using a full Ullman Sails inventory.
In the Louis Vuitton Cup ‘America True’ performed quite successfully – ranking third out of eleven in the round-robin series of the Louis Vuitton Cup. The team was eventually eliminated in the knock-out series. ‘Prada Challenge’ would win the Louis Vuitton Cup, but ultimately lose to Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup.
Image: Paul Foerster and Robert Merric preparing for the 2000 Olympics.
Year 34-35 – 2001-2002: Year 34-35 – 2001-2002: Immediately following the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup David was snatched up by America’s Cup Challenger BMW Oracle to help coach for their 2003 America’s Cup effort. For the better part of the 2.5-year coaching program, Dave primarily worked and lived in New Zealand, all while being responsible for his loft and managing the international Ullman Sails network in Newport Beach, Ca.
Image: David Ullman and the BMW Oracle team lost their keel in Hauraki Gulf while training for the America’s Cup in the year before the challenge would be tested.
Year 36 – 2003: In addition to continuing to coach America’s Cup Challenger ‘BMW Oracle’, David would be inducted into the 470 Class Hall of Fame for his accomplishments on and off the water in the class. In 2003 Ullman Sails Hawaii would join the global sailmaking network as well.
‘BMW Oracle’ would have a highly successful challenge attempt – making it to the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup only to lose to ‘Alinghi’ who would go on to win the cup.
Image: David Ullman skippering a Melges 24 in a major event around this time. Anyone who gets to know David eventually learns of his good luck habits – red spray gear is a must for David.
Year 37 – 2004: Ullman Sails powers John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree of the USA to a silver medal in the Tornado class at the Athens Olympic Games. Further, Ullman Sails Newport Beach loft moves from its loft on the Newport Beach Peninsula where it had been since 1973 to its current location in Santa Ana. For the first time in the class, Ullman Sails also powers the J/22 World Champions.
Image: Charlie Ogletree and John Lovell competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games again with Ullman Sails. In the 2008 event Ogletree and Lovell rolled the dice on a spinnaker nicknamed “Chupacabra” that could be used both upwind and downwind (as shown here).
Year 38-39 – 2005-2006: Between these two years Ullman Sails expanded its presence within the United States to include Ullman Sails Virginia and Ullman Sails Gulf Coast. Further in 2006 David Ullman again won Acura Key West Race Week in the Melges 24. Additionally, Ullman Sails powered the J/22 World Champion in both 2005 and 2006.
Image: David Ullman skippering ‘Taxi Dancer’, a custom ULDB 70 at Rolex Big Boat Series (where he won his class an impressive six times).
Year 40 – 2007: David Ullman wins the Melges 24 World Championships in San Francisco at age 61 and is nominated for Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Additionally, Ullman Sails helps power the Tornado World Championship team. David Ullman also sells the Ullman Sails Newport Beach loft to Bruce Cooper. In 2007 David’s role transitioned to managing the Ullman Sails group internationally.
Image: David Ullman skippering the Melges 24 at the 2007 Worlds with the Pegasus team featuring the classic Ullman Sails Big Foot Spinnaker.
Year 41 – 2008: Both Greg Koski of Ullman Sails Cleveland and brothers Bojan and Vlado Grego of Ullman Sails Croatia join Ullman Sails. Further, David Ullman claims first again at Acura Key West Race Week in the Melges 24 and Ullman Sails powers the winners of the J/80 World Championship and takes another podium finish in the J/22 Worlds.
Image: Ullman Sails powered J/80 team ‘RAF Team Spitfire’ racing in the 2011 UK National Championships. ‘RAF Team Spitfire’, which now sails a J/70 powered by Ullman Sails, promotes the good work of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund – a charity that offers serving and former RAF personnel in need – learn more at https://www.rafbf.org/