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Elvstrøm Sails turns 70 this year, and having a close OEM through many years in what effectively is our backyard, is of course worth a story.

Our anniversary has brought up lots of memories - also for Kræn Brinck Nielsen, CEO at X-Yachts. Especially because a lesser known fact is that he actually started his own career in the business with Elvstrøm Sails!

Kræn Brinck Nielsen worked for Elvstrøm Sails in the 90’s as a sailmaker. Later, his career path took a turn towards management, but the passion for sailing is strong as ever for the 1994 Worlds Silver medallist and 1995 European Champion in Soling.

Through the last six years, Kræn has been the man at the helm of X-Yachts and maintained a close connection with Elvstrøm Sails - and when we highlighted our anniversary, Kræn Brinck Nielsen got in touch with us - and had great stories to tell.

Kræn Nielsen has been onboard with X-Yachts as CEO and Co-Owner for six years now.

A life in racing - and the result that still haunts Kræn

Like Elvstrøm Sails, Kræn Brinck Nielsen also has a background in racing. His ways met Elvstrøm Sails through the sport, and even today, he races with some of our colleagues from Elvstrøm Sails.

- I remember the 40th anniversary of Elvstrøm Sails well – I was there! I was just a young and crazy sailor when I joined Elvstrøm Sails in 1991 – and to me as a very passionate and deeply serious racer, it just couldn’t get better than working on the loft at Elvstrøm Sails. I did live and breathe sailing. I still do - which also makes it special to be in my position at X-Yachts today whilst working closely with the very company I started my career with.

The racing link is as strong as ever:

- Those years were fantastic. I was racing with Jesper Bank at the time and working together with the likes of Jesper and Jochen Schümann (three time Olympic Gold Medallist) was absolutely brilliant. I was so happy when the picture from the anniversary and Torsten’s story popped up. I still race with some of the guys from Elvstrøm Sails today, and I recently did a J/70 race with Lars Thiellesen from the Elvstrøm Sails design department as well, Kræn says.

Racing is also the centre piece of many of the friendships involved. Despite his achievements in the Soling, a particular event in the X99 Worlds is one, Kræn and his mates still discuss regularly:

- One race with Lars does stand out. It was the X99 Worlds in Marstrand in 1999. I was there with Lars Thiellesen as well as Anders and Torsten Bastiansen. We had no expectations to be in the running for gold, but as the races progressed it turned out our X99 was super quick. Lars had made some fantastic sails, and heading into the last race of the event, we were leading, Kræn remembers.

All good - but then disaster struck:

- And then... We broke a block just before the finishing line and lost the gold. It was such a terrible feeling – especially when the winners were awarded Omega Seamasters. We scored silver and won some posters... For some reason that weekend and that experience is something we’ve never stopped talking about, Kræn says with a smile.

Why sails play a defining role

It only takes seconds to understand how important top performing boats is to X-Yachts when visiting the HQ in Haderslev, Denmark.

X-Yachts has seen the evolution of sails and sail handling unfold. And still to this day, the choice of materials and furling systems is paramount every time a new X-Yacht is delivered.

- Every X-Yacht is built with one goal and one ambition: Top performance. This has been our sole goal for 45 years, and it does of course make its mark, when it comes to the choices of sails and options for our customers make for their boats. The importance of the sails cannot be underestimated, and for our customers, Elvstrøm Sails EPEX is a very popular choice, Kræn Brinck Nielsen says.

He adds:

- Boat and rig designs tend to get stiffer all the time, which obviously also calls for more stability in the sails to match. This is what EPEX does so well – it is a great fit for the high-performance cruising scene.

The retro wave has also hit at X-Yachts in Haderslev, Denmark. The yard found their first ever boat for sale in Jersey, UK. The yard then bought and restored it to its former glory as a part of the yards 40th anniversary. This year, X-Yachts turns 45.

Meeting demand for top performance cruisers

The quest for performance at X-Yachts does, however, not end with raw speed. Easy handling is another very important part of the puzzle, and here it is a priority to make even a big boat easy to handle and shorthand.

- Furling systems, it being furlerbooms or a system such as the top-down gennaker has had a huge impact on our products through the latest years. As soon as the systems got the power to handle bigger sails on bigger boats, it quickly became a gamechanger for us. I’m happy to claim that we wouldn’t have had any X56’s on the water had it not been for the advancements in furling mains and the technology Elvstrøm Sails among others have created here. It must be easy to handle and shorthand any X-Yacht, and I am certain we wouldn’t have sold 18 X56’s without these features.

- And having a close supplier like Elvstrøm Sails just down the road is a fantastic advantage. It gives us a lot as a boat yard to have this option.
So where does the future head in terms of performance cruising? Kræn Brinck Nielsen has an idea:

- My prediction is that we will see changes in more areas. While I am certain the performance cruising scene will stay and continue its development, it will also see changes. We do continue to see customers, which are interested in the performance and the features of an X-Yacht - but they want it with the gear for the long hauls. They want more storage space, they want better self-supply and other features like these. We work on it, and I must also say it's an area where especially Hallberg-Rassy have done a great job already. The new part is that our customers want these features, too - but made in the X-Yachts way.

He adds:

- Sustainability is another area where I see changes coming. The fortunate part is that a sailing boat is already a wind-powered product – but I am sure we will see sustainability playing an ever growing role. Our first step was to introduce electric drive systems as an option – which was well-received. I am sure we will see more, and with Elvstrøm Sails being a frontrunner on combining sailmaking and sustainability, I'm sure there is more on the horizon.

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