our journey

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Dating back to 1790 we are one of the oldest sailmakers still in business.

follow our journey from 1790 to today

1790     George Rogers Ratsey establishes Ratsey Sailmakers in Cowes.

C1800     George Rogers Ratsey builds sails for HMS Victory. A fore top sail remains in the Naval museum in Portsmouth.

1825     James Lapthorn establishes his loft in Gosport

1870     Lapthorn Sailmakers builds sails for the British America’s Cup challenger Cambria

1871     Ratsey Sailmakers builds sails for the British America’s Cup challenger Livonia

1885     The British America’s Cup challenger Genestra carries Lapthorn Sails

1886     The British America’s Cup challenger Galatea carries Lapthorn Sails

1887     The British America’s Cup Challenger Thistle carries all Ratsey Sails

1889     The firms of Ratsey from Cowes and Lapthorn from Gosport merge to become Ratsey and Lapthorn Ltd

1893     The British America’s Cup Challenger Valkyre 2 carries all Ratsey and Lapthorn Sails

1895     The British America’s Cup Challenger Valkyre 3 carries all Ratsey and Lapthorn Sails

1899     The British America’s Cup Challenger Shamrock 1 carries all Ratsey and Lapthorn Sails

1901     The British America’s Cup Challenger Shamrock 2 carries all Ratsey and Lapthorn Sails

1902     Recognising their significant competitive edge and an opportunity to dominate Americas Cup sailing and , Thomas Ratsey establishes a yard at City Island, New York

1902      J.P. Morgan, a supporter and early advocate of Ratsey and Lapthorn commissions the New York Loft to make the sails for his private yacht Corsair

1902     The new Loft in New York is immediately commissioned to make the sails for the American America’s Cup entrant and winner Columbia

1903     Ratsey and Lapthorn New York build sails for the next Americas Cup defender Reliance, the same year the British loft equips it’s challenger Shamrock 3 with Ratsey and Lapthorn sails.
1917     After 15 successful years in New York, George Ratsey opens the new loft on City Island; 3 floors, each over 150’ long and the largest sail loft in the world.

1930     James Lapthorn develops a new strand of cotton from Sudan, weighing in at 29.03 oz it was the heaviest cloth yet used in sailmaking and despite its exorbitant price was used for Enterprise, the U.S defender of the America’s Cup and for Migrant, at 220’ long the largest schooner in the world.

1934     The New York loft builds sails for the U.S. Cup defender Rainbow whilst the Gosport loft equips Endeavor 1, the British entrant

1937     Ratsey and Lapthorn are again the choice on both sides of the pond, The New York loft building sails for the Cup defender and ‘Super J’ Ranger whilst the UK loft equips Endeavor 2, the British entrant with George Ratsey amongst the crew.

1942     As part of the war effort, R&L equip the U.S forces with custom canvas orders including tank covers plus in conjunction with Luders shipyard, develop a rescue boat for downed airmen that attached and deployed from the undercarriage of a plane.

1958     The New York loft builds 27 sails for the Cup Columbia whilst the UK loft equips Sceptre, the British entrant. Colin Ratsey sails on board the American boat whilst George Ratsey crews for the British.

1982     After the demise of the great sailing yachts and the introduction of modern synthetic fabrics, Ratsey and Lapthorn announces the closure of the New York loft.

1982 – present day    Sailmaking continues in Cowes under the guidance and stewardship of Andy Cassell.