Winning the Star Class World Championship is the holy grail of one-design keelboat racing. The classic 23-foot one-design class was launched in 1911, and has since attracted generations of highly skilled teams from around the world. Lowell North won the Star Worlds five times, a feat that has never been equaled. The first was in 1945, when a 15-year-old Lowell crewed for 17-year old Malin Burnham. In 1949 Lowell skippered North Star II in the Worlds and would have easily won except for a DSQ in the second race. His victory in 1957, however, was the most significant. Held in Havana, Cuba, the ’57 Worlds was a challenging light-air event featuring unpredictable winds and strong currents. Results were up and down for most in the fleet, but Lowell and crew James Hill sailing North Star III had an advantage…speed. Often finding themselves in the rear of the fleet like every other competitor, North and Hill displayed a remarkable ability to claw their way back to the front. Lowell followed with World Championship wins in ’59, ’60 and ’73, but 1957 was special. It was the year he started North Sails. Today, North Sails customers win more one-design championships than all other sailmakers combined.

On the water, Lowell is known as one of those guys who just “got it.” Renowned for his results in the Star Class, he medaled in 12 World Championships over 25 years and won gold at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
The Star was the primary Olympic class keelboat from 1932 through 2012. Over 8,400 boats have been built, with more than 2,000 actively racing in 170 fleets.
You win some, you lose some. Peter Barrett and Lowell North work on their faces after barely losing the 1967 Star Worlds in Denmark, succeeding the win to Paul Elvstrom.
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