A Photo & Discussion Forum for Wharram Design Enthusiasts
There is a cautionary tale in here somewhere. So, the wife and I have been busting our asses to get our Hitia 17 in shape to sail at the Hui Wharram this weekend. For those of you who don't know, the wingsail modification for the Hitia 17 is based on the Tiki 21, but some final measurements for the gaff must come from the actual sail. I'd received the sails on May 6th, checked to ensure that what was on the bag matched the tag that was on the sail in the bag, but did not remove and layout the sails. You know where this is going, right? When I removed the mainsail from the bag, to get my final gaff measurements, much to my surprise, I find out that the sail does not have the pocket for the gaff! It is, in fact the standard sprit rigged sail for the Hitia 17.
The loft says that they built the following mainsail for me:
Mainsail Gaff Coastal Cruising with luff sleeve
3.8 oz US Dacron crosscut
Luff 4.40: Leech 5.55: Head 1.97:
Foot 2.40: Clew to throat 4.70: Area 9.50m2
Including 1 window and 1 reef
This is also what all the tags say, but that's not what's in the bag. So, at this pont, the factory is in denial, the dealer is confused, and I'm hearing all kinds of excuses, to include the sails got swapped, and someone else has my sail. ...Right. Oh, and since I had to take pictures.
Thursday evening, May 16th, I sent the Rolly Tasker GM this message-
While I appreciate your efforts to remedy this situation, I think you are failing to ask the correct question. That question is, “If the customer is correct in what they are saying, how could this have happened in my loft?” I think you’ll find the answer to that question to be very educational.
His first reply wasn't that constructive-
I have given you the answer to this question already. The sail we made is the gaff sail you ordered. Each sail we produce is custom built and has its own sail design sheet, which accompanies the sail across the floor and the last process is for our quality controller to check all the details on the sheet to ensure the sail has been made to the sail design specifications. We made the gaff sail you asked for.
What is not established is what happened next and we will not be able to determine this until the sail we made for you turns up. At this point we should be able clarify everything, but now the only sail which has turned up is the one you have received.
You seem to imply there is some mysterious plot and denial of responsibility either by ourselves or the distributor. If you wish to believe this it is your prerogative. Both our distributor and ourselves would rather determine exactly what happened and we are not the least interested in screaming, shouting, attacking and blaming each other for the error. It is obviously a human error which has occurred: we want to find out precisely what happened and try and ensure it doesn't happen again. I know I can say this on behalf of Newsails without even asking them.
We also apologize for the upset and delay in you receiving the sail you ordered.
Then, I received a much more informative response the following Sunday evening-
We now have the answer to your question. The mainsail you have is the standard sprit mainsail which was the original sail the Hitia 17 was fitted with by Wharrams. This is the sail you have. At a later date Wharram's produced a further design for the Hitia 17 to have a gaff mainsail of which we were unaware.
Please send a copy of your sail plan to us and we will make the gaff mainsail you intend to use on your boat.
The error is ours in as much as we have always made sprit gaff type mainsails for the Hitia 17 which is the standard and never made the gaff mainsail before which you were asking us to make for you. As you can see there was a complete misunderstanding: human error. You are welcome to check the information I have given you with other Hitia 17 owners or Wharram's themselves.
As soon as we have the copy of your sail plan for a gaff mainsail we will proceed with making the sail you require and arrange collection of the sail which was supplied to you.
Looking forward to hearing from you in due course and our apologies for the misunderstanding.
The only comment I'm going to make is I'm well aware there are two different sail specifications for the Wharram Hitia 17. This is why, when I initially placed the order, I specified
"I’m in the process of completing a James Wharram Design Hitia 17. I’d like to order a set of sails for this boat, to include a mainsail, with the Wingsail Rig modifications, and jib. This should be a stock design for Rolly Tasker, but I can provide a copy of the sail plan if necessary."
I guess that "We are one of the two designated Wharram Sail Makers in the world." doesn't mean they have access to the specifications.
Quite disappointing indeed. But if you or RT are stuck with this standard sprit mainsail, maybe I could help.
My son is a student in Montréal Canada.
Feel free to contact me.
It sounds like you have had a frustrating time, but also important to remember why we order from suppliers like RT. My RT mainsail (Tiki 21) cost one third what local sailmakers quoted. I have now bought 3 sails form RT and they are all very good quality for the money. I had minor frustrations with RT over getting a sail cover made to fit, but I expect realistically that there could be problems ordering stuff by e-mail from the other side of the world. It is possible that your main problem was ordering through a broker, and I would suggest dealing directly with the factory.
The broker is a former long time employee of RT and I believe 99% of his business is RT sails for U.S. customers. I started dealing directly with the factory when the broker stopped responding to my emails.
I've not had a problem with either the price or the quality of my Rolly Tasker sails, but I do need a mainsail that fits my rig. If you look back through this whole missive, the problem is it took them a week to figure out they built my sail to the wrong specifications.
Not being a sailmaker, I always thought that a "gaff" sail meant that it had a provision for attaching a gaff to the head of the sail, not a generic descriptor of the shape of a sail. I've never heard the term "Sprit Gaff" used to describe a mainsail. It's either one or the other.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this is a cautionary tale. YMMV.
Well, at this point I'm more interested in what they actually do, rather than what they say they're going to do. They are still saying they object to the way I've handled this.
Everytime I've had email contact with them, the response I get, particularly in tone, is out of synch with what I sent to them. It's like there is a third person in the conversation, speaking in my voice, that they are responding to, but it's not me. So, besides their "Threatening, aggressive, and negative" depiction of me, I'm still trying to figure out where the comment about "screaming, shouting, attacking and blaming", came from. As part of my mispent youth, I spent nine years as an Officer of Marines. If I were to gve them the "full measure of my charm", there would be no doubt on their part.
Not even a week.
15 ....."I am now in the second day with this". So the sail was opened on the 14th? and this "negative" stuff about RTS was posted here the same day ?
17th...Hans can post here that RTS are going to replace the sail.
20th.. RST email an explanation that I find very believable and understandable.
Yes I would do business with RTS.
And I do feel for Omar. The prospect of launching the new boat at such a prestigious event must have been very exciting. By the same token being prevented from doing so must have been very, very disappointing.
Actually, the whole process started with a phone call to the RT broker on the morning of May 13th.
What prompted the initial post here on Tuesday, May 14th, were three things that occured in rapid succesion. First, my word as to what I'd received, was insufficient, so I was asked to provide photographic proof. Which I did. Second, the broker tried to get me to intervene with the manager of the RT loft, which made no sense to me, other than he was trying to remove himself from the process. I did not purchase the sails from RTS, I purchased them from the broker's company. The third, and final straw, was the email from the broker requesting additional photographs of the whole sail. What was I supposed to do, unpack it and hang it from a second story window for a picture? Not going to happen.
As I mentioned in my first post, this is a cautionary tale. I should have spread out both sails when I first received them on May 6th. But, as subsequent events have proven, even if I had, the correct sail would still not have been delivered before the Hui Wharram on May 18th. There was never any question as to whether they were going to replace the sail. The concern was to what they were going to send me. In discussion at the Hui Wharram, I mentioned that I'd become convinced that the loft didn't realize there were two different sail specifications and that the replacement would be identical to the one I'd already received. That what they were calling a gaff sail, wasn't. Someone mentioned that I was being pessimistic. Apparently not.
The chain of events that have lead us to this point began on March 20th when I placed the initial order for the sails. What I asked for was not what I received. I suspect that it was in the process of making me a replacement sail, that they finally realized there were two different sail specifications for this boat. When I hire someone to do a task for me, because they have the expertise or the equipment, I'm not so arrogant as to think I should dictate to them how to do the job. I must rely on their expertise and do expect to get something that meets my requirements.
Someone, who will remain nameless, mentioned to me at the Hui Wharram- "Omar, aren't you glad you didn't try to have a boat built in Thailand." :-)
Got my sails from Tasker for a T38. No problem at all. Perfect delivery and quality. They fit perfectly well the rigging. Three years later, after 7000 miles they are still in a good shape. Good stuff.
TRY LEE sails... next time. we are very happy with our new sails.... perfect price and perfect fit...