Brian Chapman

January 1, 1958January 22, 2018

Brian Chapman, a sailmaker for over 45, passed away suddenly January 22 in Toronto, Ontario. He had just turned 60 on the first of the year and his absence already has been felt by the people he touched around the globe.

Brian was a dear cherished friend to so many people that were all fortunate to have experienced Brian’s sense of humor, adventure, and fair play. Moreover, those lucky enough to sail with him or have a sail designed by him, had the pleasure of watching his genius in action as well as his meticulous attention to detail.

He was a huge proponent of youth sailing, PHRF racing, and the education of sailors; his vision of sailing was inclusive and accessible and enjoyable.

“Brian Chapman’s rich sailing career began at Port Credit Yacht Club (Mississauga, ON) where he immediately displayed his tremendous passion for sailing and his fantastic talent,” recalled well-known Toronto sailor Mark Searle.

“He fine-tuned his sailing as a junior club member at PCYC winning his share of trophies. His late father Donald Chapman, had several keelboats before his brand new 1970 C&C 35 Mk 1 ROGUE II.

“Brian, still a teenager, not only helped build the sails for this premier racer but also fine-tuned her and was largely responsible for her winning many major events and championships.”

“Brian cut his first sails at Charlie Smith Sailmakers (Toronto) and then joined the team of Horizon Sails in Marblehead. His sail design skills grew tremendously under the tutelage of Bob Barton, Dave Curtis, Norm Cressy and others. It was at this time that he became friends with Professor Jerry Milgram of MIT and learned so much about computer-designed sails as well as marine architecture.

“Brian, Gerry Morris and I founded the Horizon Sails Toronto loft in the late 1970s, which supplied sails to several successful racers such as Admiral’s Cuppers MARAUDER and AMAZING GRACE who represented Canada in the famous 1979 Fastnet Race.”

After working at Horizon, Brian worked for Ulmer Sails, Hood Sailmakers and Quantum Sails in Toronto, all before opening his own loft UK Sailmakers loft in 2005.

His loft became one of the strongest in the Toronto market and he did it with great dedication to customer service, customer education and support of junior sailing. Along with taking great care of his customers, Brian was also UK Sailmakers’ Sail Design Coordinator/Librarian.

“He saw a job that needed to be done and he jumped in to create a sail design and sail plan database in order to make the group stronger,” said UK Sailmakers International’s President John Bennett. “He was ready to help any member of the UK Group. He was a dedicated team player.”

When Brian took on the Design Coordinator’s job he said, “This is a big job and very important position. I’ll be helping coordinate sail designs while ensuring the smooth flow of information between UK Sailmakers personnel worldwide. Fortunately, my loft experiences have exposed me to a variety of computer design programs, starting with UK’s original AccuCut in 1976 when Jerry Milgram created it.”

Brian’s dedication to supporting junior sailing was evident when he volunteered as Race Committee Chairman for the 2016 Optimist Canadians held at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club. After the regatta he said, “Should these young people remain hooked on sailing, our future is in good hands! It does the heart good to see these young sailors master 26kts with care, confidence and control.”

We miss you Brian, fair winds, with condolences to his extended family.

At this time, there will be no formal services held for Brian Chapman.


Brian Chapman

have a memory or condolence to add?

Geoff Roulet

February 12, 2018

I first met Brian when purchasing an asymmetric spinnaker for my J/35 and was immediately impressed by his professionalism, care for details, and willingness to spend much time providing advice. It was clear that Brian thought of our relationship as much more than a commercial transaction. He was genuinely interested in my sailing efforts and each time we met wanted to know how things were going and was ready with ideas for more speed. Those conversations will be sorely missed.


Geoff Roulet: Jeannie, CBYC, Kingston

James Roscoe

February 9, 2018

I am so sorry to hear of Brian's passing. I only really knew him from trips to the UK loft but he was an unending fountain of knowledge and creative thought. He always had time for me. He had a big heart and a big smile.

David Duckworth

February 6, 2018

Will miss having a beer with you at the Club. The conversation was always good.

Jim French

February 5, 2018

It was with great surprise and sadness that I heard about the passing of Brian. He was a gentle' man and a very knowledgeble sailor/sailmaker. I owe it to Brian who made my latest set of sails that made me more competitive. He will be greatly missed.

John Brander

February 3, 2018

I received a call from Trudie to say that Brian was gone. We talked for a while about his recent history, a fall from a ladder and recovery, the Sail loft, family - Don, Ruth and Peter, Donna who I've not had the pleasure of meeting. It seems that Brian was in a good place in life, and this is bad timing.

Brian Chapman was a gifted individual who I had the privilege of calling a friend. Our family's histories were entwined long before our time. We attended high school in Port Credit concurrently, shared a love for sailing, and raced together out of PCYC on Rogue, Something Extra, Amazing Grace, and various other yachts over the many years that followed. We were always in contention, that strong competitive spirit of his coming through every time. I worked with Brian in the original Horizon Sails loft and we had a serious and hilarious time with Gerry Morris making sails and a business thrive. I have solid memories of those years and sail to this day.

Brian had a sense of humour that was unparalleled. Post race in the yacht club cocktail lounge, a Mount Gay Rum and coke in hand "Six of one, half dozen of another." and "Here's to you and here's to me and if by chance we disagree, to ........." well, you can probably finish it.

For Posterity.
Lake Erie Race - Buffalo to Toledo: Something Extra. A massive electrical storm hits us at night near the end of the course, wind 80 kt, horizontal rain, we're exhausted, Brian is glued to the helm and says "Take the sails down now". We head downwind with bare poles, knot meter at 8.5 kt heading 180 degrees away from the finish line. A seasick crew member demands to jump over board so we tie him to the backstay. We miss hitting a yacht by less than a boat length, soooooooo close! We put the storm jib up and head back upwind into a pounding sea, Brian helming most of the way to the Toledo finish, at 5:00 am. The bar opens, we all cheer and end up on the lawn, asleep in the sun, toasted. We figure we're last, but end up 6th with most yachts DNF.

This is what Brian Chapman loved about sailing, adversity with purpose, athleticism with reward, and a multitasking sport that never stops.

We've had only sporadic contact over the past few years, but I'm so pleased to know that he had his own Sail loft again, since making sails and yachts go faster was his passion. It's a significant loss to the sailing industry, family and friends. My condolences to all, with special thanks to those sharing history and anecdotes.

John Brander

Barbara Hill

February 1, 2018

Well, I am shocked to get the news and saddened. Condolences out to his family and friends. I am a VERY old friend of Brian's when he was in high school. He was actually my 'boyfriend" and neighbour in the late 70's - vivid memories of Trudie and Don as neighbours and the Chapman family - skiing at Talisman, partying in Port Credit, sailing on Rogue at the Yacht Club, travelling from university to Connecticut when he was learning the sailmaking business. He was so passionate about skiing and sailing - very competitive however so easy going with people. I do hope for all those who have been close to Brian over the past 40 years that you have great memories. I do have great memories from the 70's and am so sad - too young......
Barbara M. Hill

Donna Warrender

February 1, 2018


My deepest condolences to you and your family at this time.

Bryan Chesterfield

February 1, 2018

A true Champion who gave us the skills required to be first over the line!!

Karen Konigsthal

January 31, 2018

There are no words to describe how much Brian will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Rest in Peace Brian.

Wendy Loat

January 31, 2018

My thoughts have been with Donna since I heard the terrible news last Tuesday. Brian was a true friend of sailing and so supportive of everyone who enjoyed the sport. I am glad to have contributed to his giving up making car covers to return to sail making many years ago. Sail on, Brian. Fair winds.