Nalder Sails Ltd.
Sailmaking in Nelson began when B. Franzen & Co. established their portside business in 1876. Besides sailmaking, their services included ship chandlery and providoring.
The company also owned several trading vessels up to 70 tonne. With trade increasing in Tasman and Golden Bays, larger vessels in the form of sailing scows were built, and by 1899 Edwin Smallbone had taken over Franzen's and sailmaking played a large part in the business.
By this time Tom Nalder was crewing on the "Blind Bay Hookers", which plied the coast of the Bay, and he began repairing his sails at Franzen's.
When his son Newton was old enough, he too went to sea and crewed on scows until the Nalder family ran their own scow "Kohi".
Newton became the sailmaker for "Kohi", and when the manager of Franzen's, W. Besley, left to form his own sailmaking company, Newton followed. He then introduced his son Ron to the trade.
The last sailmaker at Besley's was Nelson Scott who moved to the city in 1946 to join with Jim Williams and formed "Scott and Williams", a company which still operates today in Nelson. Ron became the head sailmaker and when Nelson Scott retired, Ron started his own business "Nalder Sails" in 1964.
Ron was the winner of the inaugural 1940 Mellish Cup (Tauranga Cup) for P class, and his sails quickly found success on the race courses of New Zealand, due to leading-edge design and manufacturing techniques.
Many of today's America's Cup sailors began their careers with P class sails made by Ron, and this led to most of the centreboard classes in the country being dominated by his sails. Later, in the 1960s and 70s, Olympic sailors Peter Mander and Bret de Their took Nalder Finn sails to the world. In his book, 'The Shape of Speed', Bruce Farr pays Ron the highest compliment ever given to a New Zealand sailmaker regarding the quality and performance of his sails.
... Fortunately [ Farr and Blackburn ] received a once-in-a-lifetime main from Nalder of Nelson, so well cut and sewn that it lasted a whole three seasons ... if there had been a prize for the promotion of peaceful coexistence [ on board the boat ]... this sail would have won hands down * * from The Shape Of Speed, by John Bevan Smith.
A natural progression into keelboat sails followed, and this same consistent approach to quality was to find a path to Auckland's A-Class keeler fleet, and to dominate Wellington racing with Phil Hartley's 42' yacht, Camille.
Ron had a great friendship with Wellington engineer Hugh Poole and in 1965 the first ever mould was built by Hugh to create a moulded mains'l for the X-Class, Charade. This boat went on to win four back-to-back national championships; both the yacht and the sail can now be viewed in the National Maritime Museum in Auckland.
In 1966 Ron's son, Bud, began his apprenticeship in the business, and he continues to follow the traditions of the company today with leading-edge designs and manufacturing qualities that complement both racing and classic yachts. During his career Bud had a nine year association with Doyle Sails NZ before making a move to the international classic yacht circuit. He was also a founding member of North Classic Sails Europe and is now head sailmaker and designer for Nalder Sails in New Zealand.
At times the parent company has been in the background, while still maintaining support during changes within the industry. Now, with many customers requiring experience and personal service to extract the maximum performance out of their yachts, the time is right for the company to once again bring the name Nalder to the forefront.
Franzen's Sailmaking established in Nelson, 1876
Franzen's wharf and port railway line now extinct
Newton Nalder, left, and his father Tom
The scow Kohi loading sand in Torrent Bay. She was run by Albert Nalder and crewed by his brothers Newton, Cliff, and their father Tom.
Ron Nalder with his daughter Judy at the Aurora Sailing Club in Nelson, the first established yacht club in New Zealand (1857)
Phil Letcher complimenting Ron with a photograph of himself winning the Auckland Finn Championships in 1964-65
Hugh Poole and Charade, four times winner National X class championships
The world's first sail mould 1964, built by Hugh Poole and sailmaker Ron Nalder
Bud Nalder in his element, racing classic yachts. Photo: Will Calver, Ocean Photography