Matthew Robinson

2020 QEST 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust Apprentice - Sailmaking

Matt has been working for Rastay & Lapthorn Classic Sailmakers since April 2017. Over the last three years, he has demonstrated talent and commitment to the craft of sailmaking and has shown great aptitude for the technical skills required.  

Matt’s QEST Apprenticeship supports his learning from master sailmaker, Gary Pragnell, who is coming up to retirement and looking to pass on his extremely rare skills. In Matthew he believes he has found the right candidate to continue his work. Over the next three years, Matthew’s training will be stepped up. He will be do more formal training with Gary, honing his needle and palm handsewing skills, integrating rings, leather, ropework and rattailing into the work. He will also focus on measuring boats and rigging for sails, gain deeper understanding of the lofting process, train with contemporary design software, and hone advanced measurement and design skills.  

Most contemporary sailmaking sees sails cut by lasers and stitched by machine. Not only is this craft historically important, it is also contemporary, as there is strong demand for these skills today: for repair work and for new craft, built in classic styles.  

Sailing is a passion for me and so is working with my hands. I first heard about a role at Ratsey 3 years ago and went along to see what it was about. I was really inspired by the level of craftsmanship that was happening, the attention to detail and the art of sailmaking. It requires a mixture of skill and engineering but also some creativity as the end result not only has to perform but look beautiful too.