As CEO of the powerhouse sailmaking brand Doyle Sails Kiwi sailor Mike Sanderson gets involved in just about every area of the fast-evolving professional yacht racing world. From the 52 Super Series and Maxi 72s, through the new generation IMOCA 60s, and up to the heady heights of the America’s Cup, Sanderson has a seat at the table.
The back end of a busy northern hemisphere summer has seen Sanderson, test-sailing in the Solent aboard Alex Thompson’s IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, competing at Porto Cervo in the Rolex Maxi 72 Worlds and jetting to Newport, Rhode Island for the commissioning of John ‘Hap’ Fauth’s Maxi 72, Bella Mente.
As CEO of Doyle Sails International, Sanderson is revelling in the variety and challenge of working with major sailing programmes of this type. Also in the mix are America’s Cup and round the world campaigns, as the successor to the Volvo Ocean Race continues to take shape.
Many of the biggest guns at the Maxi72 worlds were employing Doyle’s latest cable-less Code Zeros to great effect. Exciting doors are opening up with this technology, says Doyle International CEO Mike Sanderson, who was mentoring a new maxi team through their first regatta at this level while also keeping a close eye on the front runners in this fiercely competitive fleet.
Sanderson’s CV includes two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, four-time America’s Cup competitor, bronze medallist in the solo transatlantic Open 60 class and ISAF World Sailor of the Year, enabling him to bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge to these programmes.
After his successes in the Volvo Ocean Race, Sanderson took to the corporate speaking circuit, talking about his campaign experiences and how they might apply to business. It was about setting clear goals, getting the best possible people, using their collective expertise to find pathways to success and then working within timeframe and budget to achieve it.
Now he finds himself following his own advice and applying all of those lessons as a model for Doyle Sails International, which was established as a new company last year. ‘We are treating the business in exactly the same way we would put together a major sailing campaign.’