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APS – Our History | APS Advisor

This year Annapolis Performance Sailing, well known as APS, celebrates its 25th year of serving sailors around the world.  APS was founded in 1991, by our company president Kyle Gross, the year he graduated from college.  After competing on the St Mary’s College Sailing team and working at the college’s sailing center, he recognized the need for a business that would supply dinghy racers with everything they needed, from foul weather gear to obscure boat parts that seemed impossible to […]

This year Annapolis Performance Sailing, well known as APS, celebrates its 25th year of serving sailors around the world.  APS was founded in 1991, by our company president Kyle Gross, the year he graduated from college.  After competing on the St Mary’s College Sailing team and working at the college’s sailing center, he recognized the need for a business that would supply dinghy racers with everything they needed, from foul weather gear to obscure boat parts that seemed impossible to find.

With a clear strategy, lots of slog, a small bank loan, and help from his employer and friends, he opened the first location in Eastport, an area adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, in the historic city of Annapolis, Maryland.

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APS Storefront 1991

The first collection of hardware, line and apparel here at APS was limited.  With no employees, Kyle worked seven days a week, and sailed in the evenings building the business, and relationships within the sailing community.  He was quick to realize that the only way his business would grow would be if he had a direct relationship with his key vendors. So he bought a plane ticket, jumped the pond, and rented a car in England. Driving around, getting lost on narrow back roads, he managed to locate and introduce himself to the primaries of companies who were making equipment and gear for dinghy racing. Visits to many chandleries provided much insight. It didn’t take long for him to realize, there’s a big difference between the US and England in terms of the geographical spread of sailing.

With the US being much larger, the sport on this side of the Atlantic is divided into sailing pockets: Annapolis being only one of many.  In 1992, Kyle decided to produce a mail order catalog to bridge the gap between sailing locations and connect with customers nationwide. Technology being far from what it is today, product photos were taken, trips to a photo shop to turn film into half tones were made, and actual cutting and pasting was the method for creating the catalog. Friends helped by modeling for apparel photos and were enticed with beers and pizza to stick address labels on finished catalogs. The initial circulation was around 3000.

After a few years of growth, and with gained knowledge of the national retail market, Kyle moved APS to a larger location and greatly expanded the product offering into outfitting larger keelboats and their crews.  The APS catalog grew in size and distribution year after year establishing APS as a serious mail order company.  The addition of a dedicated and knowledgeable call center team increased customer service, further helping the company grow into an international presence.

During the next years, the APS catalogs were expanded to over 100 pages, full color with a distribution in excess of 100,000. The retail space increased in size twice, the APS website was launched, the rigging department was created and the product offering became much larger.

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APS Storefront – 2016

In 2003, Kyle designed and built the current 6000 square foot APS storefront and fulfillment center.  Since then, our product offering has been expanded beyond 15,000 items, staff size increased and the Crugear department for decorating team gear was added. Three years later, the second APS website was launched to provide for the expanded product offering and improve the customer buying experience.

Throughout these years, APS became known as the first-to-market sailing retailer by developing relationships with innovative vendors outside of the US and exclusively introduced new brands including: Zhik gear, Optimum Time Watches, Holmotro tools, Polilite rope, Rooster clothing and hardware, Sea Australia gear, and others.

APS continues to change, adapt and thrive as a sailing retailer in the digital age.  In 2015 a new enterprise website was launched to further improve the customer shopping experience and the APS Advisor was introduced as the source for sailors to access the knowledge and information that is the hallmark of APS. The Advisor houses the hundreds of videos, articles and photographs developed by the APS team in-house.
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APS Catalog Covers

Nothing quite represents our metamorphosis over these past 25 years than the catalog covers.  They clearly show the evolution of a company that started out in dinghies, moved to keelboats, was an early adopter of online retail and one that grew the market it served to that of all sailors.

The core values we held close have been to stock a wide selection of products and their accessories, to have stock of hard to find items, and have a staff of active sailors who are able to help customers solve problems and make purchases with confidence.  A team of up to 32 members in season, call APS home today and enjoy being able to walk out the door at the end of the day and be on the water sailing not too long thereafter.

APS has remained true to its mission of serving sailors and focusing effort exclusively on sailing rather than boating and water activities in general, and will continue to provide the widest selection of quality sailing specific products and services for apparel, line, hardware, and rigging at competitive prices.  The unique value APS provides is not found at “big box” marine retailers nor via online only stores, nor anywhere else in the world.

 

APS is located at 104 Severn Avenue in Annapolis, MD. We can be reached at 800.729.9767 during business hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm US EST, Monday – Friday. Our Sales & Customer Service Center is closed on Saturday and Sunday – you can reach us by email by clicking here. Our storefront is open on the weekends from 8:00am – 5:00pm EST for walk in customers.

A visit with the Gill Sailing Gear Experts

A visit with the Gill Sailing Gear Experts

Everyone at APS was up bright and early this Wednesday morning and ready for school as the guys from Gill stopped by to get us up to date on the very latest in Gill Sailing gear and technology. Our commitment to being the most knowledgeable source for sailing gear and hardware drove us to the makeshift classroom provided very graciously by the shipping department. Jerry Richards (Gill North America) was at the store with the updated Gill sailing gear line and some useful […]

Everyone at APS was up bright and early this Wednesday morning and ready for school as the guys from Gill stopped by to get us up to date on the very latest in Gill Sailing gear and technology.mu

Our commitment to being the most knowledgeable source for sailing gear and hardware drove us to the makeshift classroom provided very graciously by the shipping department. Jerry Richards (Gill North America) was at the store with the updated Gill sailing gear line and some useful data about how to layer correctly and why it’s vital. Jerry  had a many new items on hand, but the one that peaked the interest of the whole APS crew was the Keel Boat collection (a.k.a. KB1).

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The feel and flex of the material was one of the most interesting aspects of the range (KB1 Smock, KB1 Jacket, KB1 Salopettes) along with the highly optimized cut and stretch made for movement. Gill also moved the traditional stretch material from the shoulder straps to the back of the Trouser to help improve flexibility when in a bending or crouching stance.

Another trend we are seeing from the industry is less pockets: Why take away pockets? Gill and other companies have found that double layering breathable waterproof material will cause those areas to be less effective. Sloughing off a few pockets gives the material you just spent your hard earned dollars on a chance to do its job.

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These changes don’t necessarily eliminate storage as they combine the typical hand-warmer pocket with the storage pockets giving them dual functionality.

Proper dress is key to having a successful day on the course. Energy is constantly wasted by your body trying to keep warm in between races.

Have a question about why your jacket isn’t warm enough or what type of pants you need for overnight racing? Give our customer service number a call or pop into the store front and talk to the most knowledgeable staff around.

class dismissed..

APS Welcomes New Faces to the Staff

Over the past couple months, APS has hired on a bunch of fresh new faces. We like to use the reach of our Blog to introduce some of the great new people that have joined our staff. Ben MacIntire Hailing from just over the border in Lewes, DE, Ben MacIntire joins the team in the rigging department. Ben took sometime to open up to Stern Scoop about himself: What’s your favorite boat to sail? 5o5’s Queso or Guacamole? Both. What […]

Over the past couple months, APS has hired on a bunch of fresh new faces. We like to use the reach of our Blog to introduce some of the great new people that have joined our staff.

Ben MacIntire

Hailing from just over the border in Lewes, DE, Ben MacIntire joins the team in the rigging department. Ben took sometime to open up to Stern Scoop about himself:

What’s your favorite boat to sail?
5o5’s

Queso or Guacamole?
Both.

What do you do when you’re not sailing or working at APS?
Surfing.

What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?
Are they both on the same planet? Gravity can be fickle.

Have you ever eaten a crayon?
Not that I can remember.

What’s your most memorable experience sailing?
Any good thunderstorm at night.

What boat(s) are you sailing now?
5o5’s and Mobjack’s

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Yes, everyone over at my yacht club in Lewes, Sarah Lester, and Jeff Futcher, Thanks!

José Turcios

Working hard to keep our website up to date is José Turcios. José comes to APS with a blue water sailing background and a love for traveling. Next time you notice the fine, high quality detail of our product images and descriptions on the site…thank José.

What’s your most memorable experience sailing?
Hightailing it out of Surinam on a Saddler 34 with a self acknowledged, crotchety Englishman. Our mast may or may not have taken out a little village’s power. We double handed upwind for almost 5 days to get to Barbados. There were lots of rolling storms so it was a lot of work, but it felt great being out there. I learned a lot thanks to that old, solo circumnavigator.

Queso or Guacamole?
Guacaqueso?

If you were a boat what kind of boat would you be? Why?
Either Meteor, a 170 foot aluminum gaff rigged schooner superyacht as built by Royal Huisman or the old Olympic Dragon…classy lines and legs
to boot.

What is your favorite regatta venue?
Isle of Wight for Cowes Week.

What’s your favorite brand of gear?
Musto

Do you have any hidden talents?
How to make millions and millions of Kuwaiti Dinars, but apparently it’s too well hidden.

Ryan Niland

An Annapolis area native Ryan Niland joins APS as the Web Content Editor. A former sailmaker and a recent graduate of St. Mary’s college, Ryan spends most of his off time working or sailing his J/24. Be sure to keep an eye out for some of Ryan’s work on our Facebook, Twitter, and here on our Blog.

When did you start sailing?
Age 8

What’s your most memorable experience sailing?
Winning the A0 class in the 2008 Gov. Cup with a boat full of college buddies.

What’s your favorite boat(s) to sail?
J/24, Taylor 40

Do you collect anything?
Hockey sweaters

What do you do when you’re not sailing or working at APS?
Right now…boat work.

If you could have chosen your own name what name would it be?
Dwayne

Look for more updates soon on our other new employees. And if you are interested in joining our staff always keep your eye on the employment page of our site.

APS Staffers Head South for Charleston Race Week feature image

APS Staffers Head South for Charleston Race Week

Boats are arriving and the scene is set for what should be an action packed 2012 Charleston Race Week. The 19th through the 22nd Charleston, SC will host over 260 boats competing in 17 classes. Offshore and harbor courses will be scenes of excitement and drama this weekend as each class boasts a solid turnout. We can hardly contain our excitement as four APS Staffers are anxiously anticipating the end of the work day to head south. So where can you […]

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Boats are arriving and the scene is set for what should be an action packed 2012 Charleston Race Week. The 19th through the 22nd Charleston, SC will host over 260 boats competing in 17 classes. Offshore and harbor courses will be scenes of excitement and drama this weekend as each class boasts a solid turnout.

We can hardly contain our excitement as four APS Staffers are anxiously anticipating the end of the work day to head south.

So where can you find us?

Aaron from Customer Service will be sailing with Mango and Liz from Fulfillment on Church Key in the J/80 fleet. With a 18 boat line, the J/80s will have a serious challenge on the harbor course.  Moving offshore, there will be some friendly competition between the other two APSers where Warren from Customer Service and Katie from Marketing will be battling it out in the 12 boat PHRF D fleet.

Warren is returning to the same Beneteau 10m, L’Outrage, that he sailed on in Key West and Katie will be sailing on the Cape Fear 38, Tangent.  Annapolis boats L’Outrage and Tanget coming off a one-two finish (respectively) in Key West will meet again to fight for a top spot in a larger Charleston fleet.

Look forward to updates from the crew as they take on CRW 2012. Katie is also very excited to try out her new Adidas Boat Lace CC PINK shoes. Expect a review on the latest addition to the shoe line up early next week.

Sailing Mexico with Rich Bowen feature image

Sailing Mexico with Rich Bowen

Rich Bowen, an accomplished sailor and Lead Sail Designer with North Sails shared his experience in Mexico and what gear he brought with him.  Erica Bowen, your favorite Crugear Operations Manager, was able to join him, holding down the shore crew.  Here’s his report. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be part of a J/24 team invited to the Regata Copa Mexico, which is a fantastic event sponsored by the Mexican government, the local state government and the Board of […]

Rich Bowen, an accomplished sailor and Lead Sail Designer with North Sails shared his experience in Mexico and what gear he brought with him.  Erica Bowen, your favorite Crugear Operations Manager, was able to join him, holding down the shore crew.  Here’s his report.

Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be part of a J/24
team invited to the Regata Copa Mexico, which is a fantastic event sponsored by
the Mexican government, the local state government and the Board of Tourism. We
placed second and were invited back to the second biennial event held earlier
this month.
Recalling the heat and humidity that was around during the
entire first event, and the discomfort experienced in similar conditions at
other venues, I decided to accessorize in order to dress like a comfortable
sailor. Naturally, my first and only stop was APS, with the insistence of Erica
and guidance of Mike, I can report mission accomplished.
Henri Lloyd Quick Dri shorts have been a favorite in my
quiver for some time now. I am happy with their light weight and they really
are quick drying. For this trip, I added Men’sCapilene 2 Lightweight Boxer Briefs by Patagonia. They are also quick drying
and light, in combination with the Henri Lloyd, I could not have been more
comfortable, either when sweating standing in the companionway, or sitting in a
puddle on the rail.
For a couple of seasons now, my gloves
have been Pro Gloves by Gill. My first pair has been in great shape longer than
gloves I have used before. Normally, I am milking the life out of ratty; rope
burned and holed gloves to get through a season. I am comfortably through
season 1.5 on my first pair with no daylight showing through where it shouldn’t
be. One tip for these is to try them on if you can, you might need to step up one size from your current glove depending on
how yours fit now. The Gill’s seem to maintain that “new glove smell” a little
better than others, comparing both when rinsed after use.
Shoes have been a struggle for me, the
newer brands and models I have tried seem to be getting skinnier and pointier –
not a good fit for my fat feet. Until now, I have been looking for the closeout
sales and discontinued item racks for my late 90’s early 2000’s favorites. After
trying 3 or 4 different options the day before my flight, I was ready to rely
on old faithful for another week, until I tried the Slam Code 1 Shoes. My toes
weren’t jammed together even though they had extra headroom in front of them. I
finally had an option that fit fore and aft AND athwartships – sold. After a
week on the water, I am still happy with the fit and grip on the deck; I wish
the laces dried as fast as the rest of the shoe. Next stop, socks.
After a couple of weeks at home, it was
off on the annual ski trip. My favorite pair of performance long underwear had
met its match on the last trip. So, it was back to APS to complete my 2012 ski
ensemble. I picked up a pair of Patagonia Capilene® 3 Bottoms, gray if you
really need to know. I am writing this on the last day of skiing (finally got
some snow last night after several days of great spring conditions in 50-60
degrees) and the Patagonia bottoms have been keeping me comfy at the warm base
lodge, chilly top elevations and gusty chair lift rides.
They also had some great looking Crugear, compliments of Erica.  Shown here. 
 
 
Although he didn’t mention it, they did get 3rd!  Here’s a picture of the happy crew at the awards ceremony. 
 
Thanks for the report Rich!   


Do you have a regatta report to share?  We love getting pictures or stories from your events. Send them our way!
Last Chance to Take Advantage of the March Harken Hardware Sale feature image

Last Chance to Take Advantage of the March Harken Hardware Sale

With only a few days left to save, Customer Service Manager Aaron has a little friendly reminder about our Harken sale.   He’s just making sure you don’t miss out and here it is.. CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK   Yup that’s time clicking down on the Harken sale. Your last chance to get great discounts on high quality, made in the USA Harken Hardware.  That’s right – 10% off ALL Harken. Not only do you get awesome hardware at a discount, we are also giving freebies with Harken purchases starting […]

With only a few days left to save, Customer Service Manager Aaron has a little friendly reminder about our Harken sale.   He’s just making sure you don’t miss out and here it is..
CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK

 
Harken Block

Yup that’s time clicking down on the Harken sale. Your last
chance to get great discounts on high quality, made in the USA Harken Hardware.  That’s right – 10% off ALL Harken.

Not only do you get awesome hardware at a discount, we are also giving freebies with Harken purchases starting at just $100.

We’ve got great weather throughout most of the country so get under the boat cover, make a list and place your order online before midnight on Saturday, March 31st.
All the details can be found here… let’s go racin’!!
Harken Hardware Sale
Last Chance to Take Advantage of the March Harken Hardware Sale feature image

March Harken Sale

Is your Ratchet block on it’s last legs?  Does that that Cam Cleat not stick anymore?  Tired of doing maintenance on that winch?  Well, the time has come!  Act now and receive 10% off all Harken Hardware for this month only. But the deals don’t stop there! In addition to discounted hardware, Harken is also throwing in a free gift with purchases over $100.  Check out the details on discounts and free swag here. Always innovative, Harken is constantly improving their […]

Is your Ratchet block on it’s last legs?  Does that that Cam Cleat not stick anymore?  Tired of doing maintenance on that winch?  Well, the time has come!  Act now and receive 10% off all Harken Hardware for this month only. But the deals don’t stop there!

In addition to discounted hardware, Harken is also throwing in a free gift with purchases over $100.  Check out the details on discounts and free swag here.

Always innovative, Harken is constantly improving their offerings.  Throughout the month we’re going to highlight Harken products.  We’ve begun the the T2 Blocks . With soft attach blocks becoming more and more popular, their line of T2s are versatile and practical.

APS Field Trip — USS Freedom (LCS1) feature image

APS Field Trip — USS Freedom (LCS1)

Update: In case anyone thought that the idea of race marks being used with the USS Freedom was a bit far fetched, here is the.  The photo below was sent by the logistic company that purchased the APS Race Marks for the U.S. Navy.  This was after they put in another order for 50 marks to be used with the Indian Navy.  Race marks get used more often than you would think for non-sailing activities; triathlons, crew regattas and kayaking events, to […]

Update: In case anyone thought that the idea of race marks being used with the USS Freedom was a bit far fetched, here is the.  The photo below was sent by the logistic company that purchased the APS Race Marks for the U.S. Navy.  This was after they put in another order for 50 marks to be used with the Indian Navy.  Race marks get used more often than you would think for non-sailing activities; triathlons, crew regattas and kayaking events, to name a few. 

Every now and then, a very cool situation falls in our laps here at APS. A while back, Aaron down in Customer Service got a request for about a dozen APS Race Marks headed up to the Great Lakes area. At the time, he didn’t think much of it because we get sizable orders for those all the time.

A few weeks later, Aaron gets a call from the same guy placing another large order for the same race marks. Now, high on the list of Aaron’s many positive qualities is his inquisitive nature, so when someone calls up over the course of a couple of weeks and orders a metric gross of race marks, you tend to get curious and ask “what’s up with that?”.

As it was explained, this customer was buying marks to form a perimeter around one of the newest ships in the United States Navy, the USS Freedom. The Freedom is a Littoral Class Combat Ship, designed to be a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation.

Anyways, the Freedom made a stop at the US Naval Academy here in Annapolis on its way to the naval base in Norfolk, VA. Through Aaron’s hard work (you know, listening and typing…) an invitation was extended and a number of us were able to go aboard for a tour. So on a clear, stupidly cold Saturday morning, we all met here at the shop and headed over to check out the Freedom.

A few things about this boat stand out — at 380ft long, 57ft wide and ~3,000 tons (fully loaded) she’s a big ol’ girl. Yet, that doesn’t stop her semi-planing monohull from hitting a listed speed of 45 knots; in military/gov’t speak probably means that she can pull 50-55kts.

That kind of speed doesn’t come cheap or easy though — it takes two 9,000HP turbo-charged diesel engines just to get her up to about 16kts. For that extra kick, she’s equipped with two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines, cranking out 36MW of power (FYI: your average power plant turbine kicks out about 40MW). These Rolls-Royce turbines are modified versions of the engine used on a Boeing 777, and they have a pretty solid appetite. At full speed, the Freedom sucks down 5,000 gallons of fuel each hour, at a cost of about $160,000 a fill-up. Yeah… $160,000. And when it’s really working hard, those fill-ups come about every three days, amounting to a worst case scenario of something like $19M a year in fuel.

Other cool features included the Mk 110 57mm gun on the bow, cranking out up to 220 rounds per minute at a distance of up to nine miles. And we’re talking nine miles with, and I quote from our guide, “gnats-ass accuracy” via 2-1/4″ rounds that have six programmable fuses allowing the shells to go “boom” on contact, via a delay, at a certain time and three different proximity modes. In other words, they hit exactly what they want to hit and they can do it in a number of really bitchin’ ways.

Additionally, it has a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile system. This is a small, lightweight, infrared homing surface-to-air missile battery storing 21 missiles. There are also torpedoes that can be fitted in addition to the .50-caliber guns on either side of the bridge.

Another impressive aspect was the unmanned vehicles that this boat carries. At any time, she can deploy an ~11m RIB, a submarine or up to three MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopters. The Fire Scout’s are really cool — they look like toys (I actually though it was fake, at first), but these things are no joke. They’re operated by remote control and can be fitted with Hellfire Air-to-Surface missiles, which would really put a crimp in your day should one end up near you.

Maybe most amazing about this boat was the the crew — for all her length and abilities, she’s run by a crew numbering only 40. There isn’t a crewmember on the Freedom that doesn’t have multiple duties and won’t pitch in to help perform any task. Everyone has a specialty, but that doesn’t stop the head engineer from helping in the mess and the head cook from helping overhaul the oil purification system.

I could keep going on about the amazing systems this ship has, but my fingers are tired and I still have another post to write. But I would like to end things with this thought — I was staggered by the technology and sheer volume of the Freedom, but I walked away even more amazed and impressed by her crew. The men and women serving aboard were truly some of the most dedicated and talented sailors in the Navy, and my appreciation for their efforts in defense of this country and others was, and still is, indescribable. Thank you to the crew of the Freedom, to every serviceman and servicewoman in the military, and Godspeed to you all.