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Kris Werner, Queens, NY, transplant and owner of Quantum Sails Rochester, traveled all around the world and sailed in many different places, but had never been on the Great Lakes until he moved to Greater Rochester for his family.


“Whether racing or cruising, there’s something to be said for being out on the water and harnessing the wind to power the boat. It's more of a skill than just holding a wheel and pushing a throttle like a powerboat. I always enjoy that challenge. Every time you go out is different. There's a different breeze, a different direction.”

He notes that there’s a big difference between sailing on Lake Ontario and sailing on the Finger Lakes. Lake Ontario can have significantly larger waves, rougher waters and plenty of places where you can't see land, while the Finger Lakes are quite narrow and the winds tend to be much calmer, but shifty.

"The style of sailing is different, but that love of being on the water—it's the same."

Kris grew up on the water—fishing, water skiing, sailing—and always had a passion for it. His father was part of the New York City Harbor Patrol and introduced him to boats. Kris began in a junior sailing program and caught the bug for competitive sailing at New York Maritime College, where he earned both his Coast Guard license and business degree. Before coming to Rochester in 2004, he coached collegiate and offshore sailing teams and worked on ships.

After relocating here, Kris befriended and collaborated with Steve Haarstick of Haarstick Sailmakers. When Steve retired in 2015, Kris bought the company. Support from the Greater ROC business community and a partnership with global sail maker Quantum Sails enable the business to remain independently owned and operated by the people who have been working and sail-making there for more than 20 years.

Quantum Sails Rochester services customers from the shores of eastern Lake Erie and Lake Ontario (including Toronto) to the waterways of New York and the Hudson River Valley, providing custom-made sails, sail and boat repair, and expert guidance.

“It’s a great spot where we're positioned … Having a home base here and servicing the local community for sailing is the core of what we do. [But] we have customers everywhere, some who aren't relying as much on our service aspect, but more on our expertise. I consider that a feather in our cap that this facility and our group in Rochester, NY, have gained the trust of customers from as far as San Diego, Florida and Chicago.”

One of the most exciting things for Kris is sailing with customers and helping them succeed on the racecourse. His primary goal is that they have fun and learn something. There are a handful of local events throughout the year, winter included. Kris says a number of competitive racing sailors in the community helped elevate the level of sailing around this region.


Beyond boating on local lakes, Kris points out that skiing and amazing summers in Rochester are a draw for him. “There are days when I can ski in the morning and be sailing by noon. There aren't too many places in the world that I know of where you can do those things in the same day.”


Coming up in our next blog, we’ll highlight our final subject featured in the Greater Than You Know video, Cornell AgriTech, and how this region has been instrumental in the growing field of robotic agriculture. Don’t miss new posts on our Greater ROC YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels, too.


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