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.