Lowell North

Helmsman, sailmaker, empire builder

Joe Crampes

An engineer with an instinct for sail shapes and for people, Lowell North (known in the world of sailing as The Pope) has been an outstanding sailor and has the trophies to prove it. North (b. 1929) won bronze in the 1964 Olympics in the Dragon class and gold in '68 in the Star class, in which he was also a four-time world champion-his first at age 15. He was also a two-time Yachtsman of the Year.

Today, you see North sails and North lofts everywhere and although North no longer owns the company, his talent in personnel selection and belief in computer design laid a firm foundation for future success. His first selection was fellow Olympian Peter Barrett, with whom he created the Tiger system of loft owners-talented sailors whose ranks include such famous names as Tom Schnackenberg, Tom Blackaller, Heiner Meldner, John Marshall, Hans Fogh, and Tom Whidden.

The talent North recruited has been a boon for the industry, developing computer programs to test sail shapes and cut sail cloth, using new materials such as Mylar and Kevlar, and using photography to determine depth and draft throughout the whole sail, thus allowing duplication.