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sailor72 : Doyle Sails: Am I going crazy?
Dear Sailing Citizens:
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for expressing this kind of grievance or even if there is one but I am at my wits end. I am the owner of an Andrews 72 and in the fall of 2009 purchased a new main and jib from Doyle sails in Marblehead. I believe that Doyle's refusal to any responsibility for a terrible product and even poorer quality of service need to be known to the greater sailing community if not simply to gain some satisfaction since I have tried everything else that I could to remedy the situation to no avail.... and at some points the story is quite comically entertaining

I have to admit that I may not have chosen Doyle had they not had a jib from another boat with the same dimensions (that they were left holding after that owner walked away from the deal) that they were willing to sell practically at cost. Keep in mind that these sails, even at "cost" are the price of a decent automobile. As I don't have the same budget as other owners of boats this size boat, this seemed to be a good deal. I also ordered a new main since we desperately needed one and thought a new matching suit was one of the better investments we could make in effort to sell the boat.

I had sent them the designers sail plan as well as the previous main for the boat (a U.K. that had put in more than its time), requesting that they build the equivalent sail in size and shape. A pretty idiot proof method to assure that the sail would fit. This would give them all the necessary hardware (having a substantial harken track system) and layout. Admittedly, we had taken delivery of the sail fairly late (October) but were given no assistance by Doyle, let alone a representative, to go out with us on our sea trial as would normally be customary. In fact, we were given some resistance with a company representative saying that they didn't want to make the trip down to Newport when we had requested because of the inconvenience of the traffic and that the driver they were sending down had a heart condition and would not be able to help with any of the heavy lifting. So we muscled the full batten beast ourselves and took her for a spin. I won't even get into the back story of their refusal to install the Dutchman system as we had provided and requested because, as I later found out they lost all the hardware (thankfully Dutchman's customer service came to the rescue and replaced the hardware at no charge). Then there was the very clearly mismeasured mainsail cover that exposes the end of the sail by almost two feet. ...But I digress..

When we raised the sail it was clearly not the same size in the hoist, foot and roach. When I expressed this to the Doyle rep he insisted it was the exactly the same as the other sail. As I had been sailing this boat for the better part of 2 years with the previous sail I was pretty certain it was not the same size. The headboard wasn't reaching the top of the mast, the roach no longer gently touched the backstay with a slight overlap (the tell tails don't even touch the backstay) and the foot was standing off the boom such that I could clearly see through the ridiculous looking gap (pictures attached). I had asked that someone come down to look at the sail and again they said that they didn't have the time. The clock was running out for us as well since we had a limited window to get the boat underway to the Caribbean via Bermuda. Despite taking the sail down off the boat for Doyle to take it back to the loft for re-cutting we were left with little choice but to sail with it and the re-assurance/insistence from Doyle that it was not a smaller sail and that we must be doing something wrong... and that the other sail had stretched to those measurements.

I was back on the boat over the Holidays/New Years and just couldn't stand looking at it. The boat was going to be chartered for the Heineken Regatta and I wanted to have a good sail for the event. With multiple e-mails and phone calls going back and forth I continued to try to come to some resolve on the issue with the Doyle rep who kept insisting that it was the same size as the other sail (which they still had at the loft in Marblehead and claimed to have laid out for measurement). Finally I put what I thought was a reasonable challenge forward: I said "Ill take the sail down, pay for shipping the it back north so that we could spread it out over the original and if it is the same size then I will purchase a net new sail at retail but if it was not the same size that they would build a new sail at no cost". It was at this time that they finally admitted where they had made their error in measurement, claiming that the battens were all the same length but were in different positions than the previous sail... that they had spread out the battens evenly where the other sail maker had not. So, then its not the same size and shape and I was not going crazy after all, but then the fun really starts.

After admitting that they had made a mistake they attempted various offers to modify the existing sail by adding panels to it, which seemed to me to be fixing the sail "cosmetically" but probably not functionally due to the load strains set up as an integral part of the design. This was compounded by the fact that work that could only be completed in their Marblehead loft and that any of their "local" lofts down-island would not be able to accomplish this, leaving the boat without a main sail for much of the remainder of the season, not to mention the Heineken regatta. Frustrated, I had little choice but to continue to use the sail. To this the rep answered,

"You may want to take into consideration that your current rating certificate is correct for the new Doyle mainsail. While sailing in the Caribbean where it is normally heavy air, the lower rating that comes with a slightly smaller mainsail is likely to be an advantage.

Sailing with the main as is will also give you a chance to assess the boat’s performance with the sail as is in a variety of conditions. You may find that the boat performs better with the new rating and the main as is.

I’m truly sorry for this misunderstanding, and look forward to working with you to getting your boat to perform to its optimum."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Am I now supposed to be happy that I have a smaller sail? I didn't know what to do. The boat was scheduled to sail on its own bottom to the Med in the spring. There would be no time to remedy the situation even by with the patch job they were suggesting. I had suggested that they simply replace the sail (that I would even send the old one back) and they wouldn't hear of it. I could perhaps get the main serviced, as per their suggestion in Palma , when we arrived in the Med (a port not planned on our itinerary). The boat ultimately was carried by Yachtpath directly to Turkey. At this stage we didn't have the time to even get the main cover fixed. The boat is now in the med and I made one last effort to see if they would make good on their mistake. The last remedy they had offered was that I could buy a net new sail for the low cost of $30K. That was just last year. The boat has been out of the water and now dipping for what we hope to be a good charter season in the med. I made one last effort to reach out to Doyle for some resolve to which I received the cold response that they feel that they had fulfilled their obligation.

Somehow I was expecting a better solution. But maybe I am out of line to think that when you spend 60 Thousand Dollars (for a new main and Jib, which also wasn't fitting well... but we won't even go there) that maybe one would get better service. Since I don't have the same resources as some of their other clients to buy sails at regular intervals I'm pretty certain Doyle does not see value in maintaining a relationship... But really.... is this how customer service works? Does this make sense to anyone?

Sincerely
Frustrated in Fethiye
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