Please select your home edition

Hall Spars Memoirs Part 1 - Early days

by Eric Hall 15 Jun 2020 21:10 NZST

Hall Spars had its beginnings in the 1960s when I was selling Flying Dutchman fittings for a German Company FTS (among other things, the original inventors of what today Harken calls “magic boxes”). I was also dreaming of starting my own marine hardware company.

After three years at Grumman Aerospace, I joined designer Brit Chance to assist in designing rig and deck plan upgrades for the America’s Cup Defender Intrepid in 1970.

Two years later I joined Union Masts of Bremen Germany, jointly owned by Lowell North, Eckart Wagner and Bremen sailmakers Hans and Berend Beilken. In 1975, I left Union Masts and joined Tim Stearn’s mast start up in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. After six months I was hired away by Schaefer Marine to start their new mast company, Schaefer Spars. In 1979, Schaefer decided to stop making finished masts but only supply mast extrusions and parts. I wanted to continue making masts, so I negotiated an exclusive license to the products I developed for them and founded Hall Spars. Hall Spars officially opened on June 9th, 1980. Founding with me was Phil Garland who ran the rigging side of the operation. Shortly after that Dirk Kramers joined us in August of that year. With Phil and Dirk, Hall Spars left the gates with two bona fide world class talents. The company began with the three of us, secretary Cathy Resendes, four mast builders and a welder. The first mast delivered was for New Bedford attorney Johnny Bentley’s Metalmast 30.

Later that year, when Ted Turner’s Courageous team lost their mast, Hall was chosen to repair it.

In 1983 we were chosen to build the rig for Baron Bich’s France 3.

Also, during that year Ben Lexcen visited our shop in the early summer and bought spreader extrusions from us. We never knew (and never asked!). But three days before the Cup races that year I found out. Visiting Newport that Sunday with my parents and young family, I noticed Australia II docking after a heavy wind practice with a bent jumper strut. Leaving the family to their own devices, I contacted Australia II’s operations chief, Warren Jones, and offered assistance since the jumpers were probably made from the spreader sections that we sold to Lexcen in late May. He said, “follow me” and soon I was on the syndicate’s power yacht standing before Alan Bond, John Bertrand and Jim Hardy having a rather formal lunch. Characteristic bombastic, Bond ordered me to join their lunch and have some of Hardy’s fine white wine. Meanwhile my family knew nothing of my whereabouts. Long story short, we collected one of the shore team, hopped in their station wagon and drove to Bristol to get more spreader extrusions. Complicating matters was a huge parade commemorating Bristol’s 350Th anniversary of its founding. Finding gaps in the parade, we shoulder-carried two 18-foot sections across the street to our waiting car. Even after such an exciting story, my family wasn’t impressed. I was in the doghouse for the rest of the day.

Australia II went on to lift the Cup for the first time in history.

Early in 1983, Hall was awarded its first big production spar order. After winning an early chilly day sail-off against our competitor Kenyon Spars (run by brother Ben), Hall Spars was awarded the J-22 spar business, starting a 30-year run, delivering over a thousand spar sets.

In late 1983, we received our first Maxi Boat order, a rig for the 80-footer Boomerang.

Hall Enters the Carbon Spar Business

Along with the order for the rig, the Boomerang team gave us our first carbon fibre spar order, a spinnaker pole using a wet layup process we’d recently licensed. The same year we made a pole for the J Class yacht Endeavor.

This decision was to have a huge impact on the future of the company.

In 1984 my brother Ben joined the company. It was a welcome event for many reasons not the least of which was that Ben was no longer running a company that was competing against us. Of course, his impact on company sales was immense. Soon after, his wife Nan joined us and in a very short time she became the friendly voice of Hall Customer Service. It is not a stretch to conclude that around the US, more people knew Nan Hall personally than either Ben or me.

Click here to read Part 2 - test boats and autoclaves.

Related Articles

Hall Spars Memoirs Part 3 - Cat wings and maxis
Eric Hall tells Hall Spars' story of building maxi rigs and the inspiration for Oracle's wing. After the America3-induced deep immersion into Advanced Composites in 1992, things took off. On every front; spars for production yachts, medium-sized offshore racers, maxi boats, mega yachts and the America's Cup soon followed. Posted on 1 Oct 2020
Hall Spars Memoirs Part 2 - Test boats & autoclave
Eric Hall tells Hall Spars' story of pioneering the use of carbon fibre in masts and booms. The mid-eighties were years of rapid growth with blue ribbon custom spar orders on successful race boats too numerous to name. we were enjoying increasing success with top name builders and when Ben joined us, he brought with him the huge J-Boats account. Posted on 25 Sep 2020
Hall Spars celebrate 40 years of spar construction
Hall Spars has been at the forefront of the mast building industry for four decades Specialising in the design and production of high-quality masts, booms and components for sailing yachts. Over these 40 years Hall Spars is proud to have remained dedicated to providing all of their clients with the highest quality and reliable rigs. Posted on 4 Jun 2020
Hall Spars secures services of new business leader
Roeland will oversee the Dutch operations of Hall Spars Roeland began his career as an officer in the Merchant Navy followed by various senior management roles at Van Oord and Acta Marine venturing into fields which included offshore marine construction, oil and gas and wind energy. Posted on 14 Nov 2019
Hall Spars: Quarterly Newsletter - Recent launches
Hall Spars: Quarterly Newsletter - Latest Swan 65 & 78.. Regatta roundup and results Hall Spars: Quarterly Newsletter - Latest Swan 65 & 78.. Regatta roundup and results Posted on 23 Oct 2019