Bill Draheim received the best sailmaking education possible at an early age. In the late 1970’s at the age of 18, Bill was one of the top promising young sailors in the nation, catching the eye of World Class Sailmaker/Sailor, Bruce Goldsmith. Bruce won National or World Championships in virtually every class he sailed. He designed championship sails in many more! Bruce finished 2nd in the 1972 Olympic Sailing trials to Buddy Melges and won the pre-Olympic regatta in Germany just before the Olympics. He was arguably the top sailor in the nation in the 70’s!!
At Goldsmith’s North Sails Great Lakes loft, Bill quickly became the youngest head sail designer in the Worldwide North network. In those days, the individual North lofts were hooked up to a central computer in Ohio and designs were generated over a teletype machine. The resulting information was transferred to each loft’s physical mylar pattern that had a number of computer generated curves. After college, Bill was again fortunate with his sail making education. By this time Dave Ullman had established himself as Americas top sailor and sail maker of all time. Dave first worked with Bill as his U.S. Olympic 470 team coach, then as employer. To this day, Dave’s abilities put him in any winners circle he wants. Bill was lucky to have the chance to learn from him. The years on the U.S. Sailing team were a real key to Bills’ winning formula. Being on the team required that countless hours be spent on testing sail designs, filming and reviewing sail shape, testing sail settings, two boat testing, etc. To sum it up, Bill now knew what sails
should look like for any wind or wave condition.
Finally, after a half dozen years on the U.S. Olympic 470 Team, Bill bought his own loft in
Dallas, Texas. The loft was an established Ullman loft owned by fellow University of Texas All-American Sailor Alum, Kelson Elam. Bill kept the Ullman franchise for a few years, then was part of the North Sails Group a couple of years but ultimately decided on working independently under his own name, GUS SAILS. Gus was the first loft dog. We have had a few since! Bill always developed his own designs and provided his own victories either personally or from talented customers so paying to be part of a larger sail making group was an unnecessary expense. We chose to pass that savings on to our customers.
RACING SUCCESS = SAIL DESIGN SUCCESS
Many sail lofts employ sail designers who sit at a desk all day and produce pretty looking designs. Pretty designs don’t translate into fast sails. To be an expert sail designer requires two primary skills. The first is knowledge of computer aided design tools and the second is a personal knowledge of what sails should look like for various wind and wave conditions. The first skill is somewhat easy. The second skill can only be accomplished if you are a World Class Sailor. It is the second skill that so few designers possess. Bill’s resume best reflects this concept.
JY 15, J/22, C-15, Thistle, Flying Scot (2 time),
Hobie 33 US Sailing O’Day Cup Champion
(National Singlehanded Championship)
Two time US Sailing Champion of Champions
(20 one-design class national champions race
to crown the best of the classes)
Six time member of the US Sailing Team (470 Class)
Collegiate Sailing All-American (University of Texas)
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