The Australian Rolly Tasker (1926 – 2012) was one of the pioneers in modern yacht racing. Exactly 70 years ago, he also founded Rolly Tasker Sails with a capital of 500 Australian Dollars, which now is among the world’s largest sailmakers, with 2.3 million sold sails mainly for cruising and club-racing.
In 1956, Tasker won the first ever Olympic medal in sailing for Australia. What followed was a global “career” in competitive yachting as he became one of the most successful racing sailors of his generation. In the Flying Dutchman class, for example, he more than once competed against the famous Dane Paul Elvstrøm, who in one of his books described Tasker as his most dangerous rival. Most sailors of this pioneering generation knew each other well and were fierce opponents on the water but, once back ashore, the best of friends. Tasker for example had amicable relations with the brothers Peter and Olaf Harken (who sadly passed away recently), as well as with Lowell North and Ted Hood, or Dave Ullmann and Bertrand Cheret.
After the beginnings in Australia, Rolly Tasker opened a Hong Kong branch of his sailmaking firm already in 1961. In 1992, he began his first sail-loft in Phuket, Thailand. Tasker himself was always passionately at the heart of his company, constantly eager to learn, and doing everything himself whenever he could. Over the course of his life, he designed and built 26 different racing yachts, among these nearly all of his famous ocean-racers named “Siska” for which he manufactured all sails, masts, rigging and most of the deck hardware himself. He sailed over 2000 races without any gear failure and without once having to retire early.
In 2006, Tasker opened a new sailmaking facility in Phuket, designed once more by himself. With a floor area of 100.000 square feet it is the world’s largest, purpose-built sail-loft. Today, 120 highly motivated staff work here, of which the big majority stay with the firm over many years, if not decades: Sail designers, sailmakers, riggers, spar and ropemakers, engineers and office staff. Production conforms to ISO standards and not only sails are made, but also the necessary fittings, cordage, spars and complete rigs. All in one hand with a consistent and meticulously monitored quality standard on which customers the world over can rely – be it in Australia or Germany, America or France. A lean management structure further contributes to the best possible price-quality ratio at which all sails are distributed by a constantly growing, worldwide dealer network. In each country, a young and enthusiastic team mostly of active sailors offers personal contact and the best of service for the customers.
Today’s CEO of this globally active sailmaker, Sven Cornelius from Germany, has for several years worked very closely with Rolly Tasker and his wife Kerry. During this time, a strong personal, family-like bond between the three was forged. And just like in other family owned and run enterprises, Cornelius now sees himself as the company founder’s successor who endeavours to run the business with a long-term perspective.