Interview with the head of Severne Sails: Ben Severne
Ben Severne is the head of Severne Sails, a well known brand which is growing and which delivers sails for all target groups, from the beginner, wavesailor, freerider, freestyler to the racer in speed, slalom and formula. Ben lives in Western Australia and has a windsurfing background. Besides the sailbrand he also runs the company Flying Objects, which offers wetsuits, bags and important accessories. Both brands take a lot of time and less room for sailing. But still Ben is a guy, who is a passionate windsurfer. In December 2008 Severne just announced two new teamriders: Björn Dunkerbeck and Dany Bruch.
C7: When did you start to work on the brand Severne?
Ben: We built the first sails in Geraldton about the end of 2002. But didn’t do any real production until 2004.
C7: Did you work with other sail companies before you founded Severne Sails?
Ben: Yes, and it was the frustration of working for brands that were more concerned with making money than making sails. That pushed me to start my own brand.
C7: Where is the Severne headquarter located?
Ben: We’re based in Perth, Western Australia. It’s a pretty good location for testing as we’ve got access to a really broad range of conditions. We test flat water stuff on the Swan River, and then good wavesailing conditions are just a matter of driving south to Margaret River or north to Lancelin, Geraldton, etc.
C7: Which image do you want to produce with Severne?
Ben: Umm…. Not sure if I really want to produce an image. But I suppose I’d like to be seen as the alternative brand, with a technical advantage. Our goal has always been to build sails that perform better than anything else, and I’ve found that one of the best ways to increase performance is through material development. We use a lot of high tech fibers like Technora, Kevlar and Spectra to build sails that will be lighter than the more corporate brands, but also stronger.
C7: Do you see your brand as a core brand?
Ben: Well, if by ‘core’ you mean a brand that is run by windsurfers for windsurfers then yes, we’re a core brand. All the people involved in the brand are VERY passionate about windsurfing with pretty much all of us having competed at an international level.
C7: How many saildesigners are working on the Severne products and how many people contains the whole stuff?
Ben: I design all the sails. There’s about 5 of us that work on the brand.
C7: What are the 2009 highlights in your range and which product was the best you designed since you started with Severne?
Ben: I’m pretty close to every sail that I design – they’re pretty much my babies! So kinda hard to pick favourites… I was out sailing last night on the NCX 7.5, and was stoked with that one. Especially when I went past a few guys on full slalom setups!
The Gator concept is really starting to take hold. I think a manoeuvre oriented, full x-ply freeride sail with less of a boring old man image was something that the market needed for quite some time. And Boujmaa’s been doing a great job of showing that the Gator definitely isn’t boring. Our new Synergy rig is also something I’m pretty happy with.
It’s our first step towards making windsurfing much less complicated for people wanting to get into our sport or people who windsurf recreationally. It’s colour coded system makes rigging a sail correctly easy for anyone.
Then my favourite sail to use is always the S-1, as I get to make it exactly the way I like. But I think the best SEVERNE product was actually one that I didn’t design – it’s the batten tensioner key that doubles as a bottle opener! Clinton, our brand manager, designed that when he first started and it’s been put to a lot of good use. The only downside to that product is that people keep stealing them…
C7: Is it true, that you also make the graphics for your whole line?
Ben: Yeah, at the moment… but hopefully we’ll find a graphics guru soon so I can spend less time in front of the computer and more time sailing.
C7: Where do you see Severne in 2010?
Ben: At the beach!
C7: Is Severne a growing brand right now?
Ben: Definitely. Every year the amount of work I need to do grows about 50%!
C7: You are a passionate Windsurfer and you like to rip waves. What´s your favourite location to have a ride and which sail /rigg will you take out of your bag?
Ben: Favourite spot could be pretty much whichever spot is going off on the West Australian coast at that particular time. Favorite sail is usually the latest S-1 prototype that I’m working on.