WindRider International, a Minneapolis company that builds popular three-hulled sailboats known as trimarans, is moving its manufacturing operation to Flint, Mich.

The decision comes on the heels of a merger late last year between WindRider and Flint-based Nickels Boat Works.

WindRider has operated an assembly plant and sales force out of a warehouse just southwest of Target Field for several years, with all parts except the sail being made in Minnesota.

Company leaders were not available to comment. A news release said WindRider will keep its headquarters in Minneapolis.

WindRider was founded in 1995 by a large kayak manufacturer that wanted to make sailing accessible for people of any skill. WindRider's trimaran design offered stability, while the kayak seating and steering made it easier for inexperienced sailors to operate.

WindRider and Nickels announced the merger Dec. 31.

At the time, Nickels Boat Works President Hugh Armbruster said that "with the many changes that have taken place in the sport over the last decade," the merger was in the best interest of the company.

Nickels offers five models of one-design sailboats. Its innovations in hull shape and deck layouts have been credited with World, Pan American and North American sailing victories.

As the manufacturing arm for WindRider, Nickels Boat Works will now build eight models of sailboats and import five models of sailing trimarans from Astus, a French operation, according to company statements.

WindRider Chief Operating Officer Robert Sanberg joined Gov. Mark Dayton and 50 other Minnesota business leaders on a 10-day trade mission to China in summer 2012.

It is unclear whether Minnesota jobs will be lost as a result of the merger. Wind­Rider will supply the sales and marketing force for the combined operation, which includes sailboats as well as parts and accessories.

Nickels said it expects to add new jobs in Flint as a result of expected growth.