Larry Phillips, ABYC


Born in 1950, Larry Phillips grew up in The Bahamas, diving, fishing, snorkeling, sailing, experimenting with sailing kites long before hang-gliding and kite-boarding became extreme sports.

As a youngster, he paid enough attention to school to get by and just enough attention to authority to escape extreme punishment.

But there was one authority figure he did pay attention to, his grandfather, a sponge fisherman, fire chief and first Bahamian commissioner of police. It wasn’t the police uniform that impressed him. It was the work boat, a native sloop, that his grandfather used for sponging and from the time Larry was old enough to jump aboard and his grandfather would say, ‘Come, boy,’ he’d be gone for the summer.

Every childhood has special memories. But not all childhood dreams translate into adult success stories. Larry Phillips did not know his would, either. After graduating from a local private high school, he went off to the University of Miami at 16, earned a B.A. in Business Administration and enough credits for a second degree in Engineering. He returned home to Nassau, worked for IBM for 11 years, sailing on weekends and in local regattas.

Tired of lugging his sails to Miami for repair or modification, he began repairing his own, working on his mother’s patio and then using a straight-stitch machine at a marine canvas shop, forcing the zig-zag stitch with his wife sliding the sail from side to side.

When the Victory syndicate came to Nassau to train in the early 1980’s to train for the 1983 America’s Cup trials, they hooked up with the island’s only ‘sailmaker,’ using their talent and his machine that had been donated by the late 5.5 meter sailing legend Robert ‘Bobby’ Symonette. Day after day after work, Phillips would leave IBM and head to their borrowed loft, working till well past dark repairing sails that had been raced that day. When the team left The Bahamas, they left him the sail cloth.

In 1985, Phillips left IBM and was managing the busy Nassau Shipyard yard, and its 50-ton and 150-ton travel lifts. Included in his package was the use of that same formerly abandoned metal shed where he first learned to sew high performance sails. It would become the first premises of Phillips Sailmakers. In 1988, when the shipyard closed, he moved into a 2,000 square foot space, laid down a wooden floor and never stopped work. A decade later with the awning division fully established, he expanded again, moving into the present location, a 8,500-square foot purpose–built building on East Shirley Street.

Phillips continues to monitor every job personally.

Measured With Care. Built With Precision. Designed To Last.

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