North Sails NEWS

September 25, 2017


North Technology Group President Tom Whidden joins eight selected individuals in U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2017”

North Sails would like to congratulate North Technology Group President, Tom Whidden, on his induction to the U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame. Among many accomplishments throughout a lifelong career in the sport, Tom has remained a lover of sailing since purchasing his first boat, a Blue Jay, at age ten. Tom is among eight individuals selected this year by the National Sailing Hall of Fame, to join a total of 57 honorees inducted since 2011. The “Class of 2017” was congratulated yesterday in an induction ceremony at New York Yacht Club’s Harbor Court, following a weekend of celebratory events.

“I loved the ability to go out and make decisions on your own. I loved the forces around you: the water, the air, the wind and the currents.”

Tom’s reflection of early days on the water indicate leadership qualities, a passion that would see him through eight America’s Cup campaigns including that memorable race in 1983, when Australia II edged victory over the Americans to win the Cup for Australia. Of course Tom, alongside Dennis Conner and the Stars and Stripes crew, bounced back with a vengeance in 1987 to reclaim the America’s Cup in one of the most notable events of Cup history.

To introduce Tom in yesterday’s induction ceremony, Malin Burnham spoke of this memorable time. “Tom was much more than a tactician. First of all he was unofficially, but officially in my mind, the crew chief and crew boss for Dennis. He kept things calm and cool under great pressure… In my mind Tom was Dennis’ equal partner in the 1987 Cup, and many other victories.” A good friend of Tom’s, Malin was involved in the Stars and Stripes ’87 campaign and also boasts two World Championship wins in the Star, one alongside North Sails founder, Lowell North.

In business off the water, Tom joined North Sails in 1986 and ten years later was named President and CEO of North Technology Group. In his 30 years with North Sails, Tom led the company through complex developments and investment in manufacturing technology, with the introduction of North Sails 3DLTM and 3DiTM, and the structure of the organization, shifting from a multifaceted family of locally run companies to a wholly-owned global brand and market leader.

Tom credited his sailing experience for success found in the boardroom, in his acceptance speech yesterday. “A friend of mine once said, ‘We all believe that what we see on the water will help us with what we see on land,’ which is something that has really come true in my life. As I’ve said many times, the parallels between successful business and successful sailing are striking and something I really trade on, quite frankly.”

Tom thanked his family, friends and partners for their support and collaboration by addressing the room and requesting their help increasing access to the sport.

“Each and every one of us needs to take someone sailing.”

Tom Whidden joins company leaders in recalling North Sails’ long history with the America’s Cup and its influence on the wider sport of sailing. Dive into the rich history of North Sails with our series 60 Years of Sailmaking.

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