KITTERY, Maine — Kittery’s Toralf Strand grew up sailing all sorts of vessels in his native Norway. He even constructed a sail boat from a discarded boat hull, a car engine and fashioned a mast from a large oak tree he chopped down in a forest near Oslo.
As sailing became more and more a part of Strand’s life he said he began to specifically seek out a racer-cruiser, a sailboat he could operate by himself. That is when he discovered the Slovenian company Seascape, which was started by two Mini Transat sailors, who originally wanted to build an open-racing sailboat without a complicated sail plan, according to Strand.
Strand said he was floored by how responsive and easy to sail the Seascape boats were so he traveled to Slovenia in April 2015 to meet with representatives of Seascape with an offer: He wanted to be the official dealer of Seascape boats in the United States.
“He came back from Slovenia with the contract and just like that we were in the sailing business,” said Sabrina Velandry, Strand’s longtime partner, who serves as the director of sales and marketing for Seascape USA with the help of her daughters Sienna and Luna.
On Saturday, the Eliot-based sailboat retailer delivered its 500th boat since launching in the United States.
“The first time I sailed the boat, it looked so modern and I knew this was the one I wanted to bring to the U.S.,” said Strand, who is Seascape USA’s lead dealer. “It doesn’t have complicated controls but it allows you to push your sailing skills to the limit without pushing the boat’s limit. It’s more about having fun sailing and working less.”
Seascape models have top speeds of roughly 18 nautical mph, according to Strand. He said they can be sailed by one person and can quickly transition from using a large spinnaker sail in front to using a code sail on the bow of the boat with one user-friendly crank. According to Strand, the top of the mainsheet is designed to twist in swirling winds and “spill” the excess wind that could bog someone down in another boat that lacks the same feature. He said the sailing configuration is one of many reasons why Seascape’s boats are just as suited for a beginner as they are for someone looking to race competitively.
“With all sailing, there is always a bit of a learning curve, though these boats are like wind-surfers; they’re very responsive,” Strand said. “This boat will allow you to mess up and it won’t capsize because it cuts through the waves and rests flat on the water unlike traditional boats. The boat is never going to be boring, but it has enough stability for a beginning sailor to learn.”
Seascape USA currently boasts three sailboats in its fleet, the Seascape 18, 24 and 27 with the Seascape 14 set to debut at the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany, which is one of the world’s preeminent boat shows. The Seascape 18 won Boat of the Year from Sailing World Magazine in 2016. This year, the Seascape 24 followed suit and won Boat of the Year and the Best Boat award from SAIL Magazine. Velandry said the Seascape 24 and 27 will be on display at the Newport Boat Show Sept. 14-17 in Newport, Rhode Island.
Velandry said the boats are popular with those new to sailing, those looking for an effective boat to race or anyone looking for a quality boat in general.
“These boats make you feel empowered because the boat comes at a relatively affordable price and it’s easily (towed by trailer) so it works for leisure and sport,” Velandry said. “We want to be as approachable as possible, and pride ourselves on being a sailboat company that is not exclusive, where the emerging sailor and the racer alike can come by, book a test sail, and get to know us and the boats.”
Above all Strand said he is thrilled to be providing high-quality sailboats to American consumers, especially the Seascape 18 and 24 because they can be launched by one person. They can easily be put onto light trailers, which eliminates the need for the sailor to enter a decades-long list for a mooring and also eliminates expensive hauling and storage fees, which lowers the barriers of introducing the sport of sailing to more and more people, according to Strand.
“It’s exciting to be on the forefront of this new trend in sailing where we see lighter and simpler boats; suitable for a broad range of sailors from beginners to racers,” Strand said. “The boats are fast and fun to sail. The whole Seascape community has been a joy to be a part of and grow with.”
Seascape USA is at 398 Route 236, Suite 33 in Eliot.