Alumni Spotlight: Doug Slocum ’10

doug-slocumUpon graduating from Webb Institute in 2010, I took a path lesser-travelled by Webbies, into the world of sailmaking. Sailing and yacht design were ultimately the drivers for me to attend Webb, and during my time there, I focused on small craft design as much as the curriculum would allow. I would be remiss at this point to not acknowledge Professor Gallagher, Professor Royce, and Dean Compton as mentors that I could approach anytime with discussions on yacht design! Thank you for your support and guidance.

Mixing Engineering with Art Form

In August 2010, I started working full-time with North Sails as a designer. This would not have been possible were it not for Webb’s Winter Work terms, as I spent my senior winter term at North’s facility in Minden, NV, researching and designing ways to improve their sail lamination process.

Those two months working on the factory floor proved pivotal to my beginning as a designer, as I spent my first years working on the engineering of the 3Di product line, which is involves flexible composites. Having spent time on the floor enforced the mindset of making sure changes we made for engineering reasons were able to be carried out smoothly by the teams building the sails. Your design and structure can be the best in the world, but if the product isn’t buildable all the design time could be in vain!

As I progressed in learning more of the art form of sail design, I also began using our proprietary Finite Element Analysis [FEA] and Computational Fluid Dynamics [CFD] tools to work on wider varieties of projects. Though Webb never taught any courses on the technique of sail design, the technical and analytical mindset it instilled is well-suited to the trade. Every component of the yacht is interconnected in some way, and understanding tradeoffs between these components is essential to a successful vessel. These approaches have worked well across a wide variety of projects such as leading the design of North’s J/70 sail inventory, as well as aiding my mentor JB Braun with the development of the VPLP designed Comanche.

Pretending to be an Adult

Besides working for North Sails and a fair amount of sailing, I also married a wonderful woman, Elissa, in September 2014. I have kept up mountain biking and
playing music, and Elissa and I have recently begun rock climbing. My Webb contacts are maintained through travelling to regattas, and acting as the Southern New England regional coordinator. Elissa and I are working on relocating to the Portland area of Maine, probably as this is being printed, so if you find yourself nearby feel free to reach out!

Webb’s teachings of technical materials, leadership, and problem-solving approaches, are all essential to me. Designing, building, and sailing a boat well is a very technically-oriented team effort, and the foundation from my time inside Stevenson Taylor Hall allows me to adapt to each new project accordingly.


Rough day in the office. Testing the prototype J/70 inventory in 2012, myself in the middle position trimming kite.



And now to the other extreme! Sail testing aboard the 100 foot LOA Comanche in fall 2014.