Latell Sails catch the wind.
When Jerry Latell navigated 635 miles of open ocean in the Newport Bermuda Race last summer, he was confident in his sails—they were made by his own company, after all. Since 2005, Latell Sails (a local licensee of the international corporation, Ullman Sails) has served boaters up and down the Chesapeake (and the occasional worldly cruiser).
Latell, an avid sailor since childhood, was working as a school guidance counselor in 1997 when he walked into the sail loft he would eventually own. “I got to talking with the owner [Don Landau], and he asked if I wanted a job. I didn’t know anything about sailmaking ... he had me sit at a sewing machine the first day.” Latell bought the business from Landau in 2005, and now the Northern Virginia native and four full-time employees make 150 to 200 sails per year.
Each sail is custom-made with advanced synthetic fibers and is composed of anywhere from 10 to more than 50 panels, all carefully shaped and stitched together to form a whole that will move and change as the sail catches the wind. The simplest sails can be completed in 15 hours, but more complex projects (like the historical reproductions of the Susan Constant and Godspeed’s sails Latell was tasked with creating for Historic Jamestowne’s quadricentennial in 2007) can take more than 500 hours. The work pays off. That Newport Bermuda Race? Latell and his team won their class. $2,000-$7,000 per sail. LatellSails.com
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Nordt Family Farm, Charles City
Moonrise Jewelry, Cape Charles
Awl Snap Leather Goods, Richmond
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Buckingham Slate Company, Arvonia
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Kala Studios, Arlington
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Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton
Pickled Silly, Richmond
Glass House Winery, Free Union
Willie Byrd Sauce, Richmond
La Vache Microcreamery Caramels, Charlottesville
FERIDIES 5 O'Clock Crunch, Courtland
Three Ships Coffee, Virginia Beach
Commonwealth Gin, James River Distillery, Richmond
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Latell Sails, Deltaville
Tad Coffin Saddles, Ruckersville
Goodpasture Knives, Ashland