When the Star class sailing boats set sail in this year’s Olympic games, 13 of the 16 boats to qualify for the competition were made in a warehouse in Richland. Jon Vandermolen teamed up with Partner Mark Pickel to manufacture boats that Pickel had success with in Bejing.
They have won a number of races for the Canadian Team, proving their worth at 80 to 90 thousand dollars a copy. Vandermolen says ironically the American team will be in an Italian boat, because they couldn’t afford his boat. He says the boats are 22-1/2 foot long and have a tall mast which requires two strong men to handle. It’s the biggest boat that competes in the Olympics, and the hottest boats are built right here in Kalamazoo County.