Founder of North Sails passes away

June 5, 2019 | Windsurfing
Lowell North: a prolific sailmaker and innovator | Photo: North Sails

Lowell North, the iconic founder of North Sails, passed away at 89 in San Diego, California.

North was born on December 2, 1929, in Springfield, Missouri.

He kicked off his sailmaking career when he was only 14, and his father bought a one-design racing keelboat Star with cotton sails.

But because father and son were systematically finishing races in the last place, the young sailor decided to redesign the mainsail.

"When I started making sails, I knew what a sail should look like. It was pretty easy because sails were really bad," Lowell North once said.

"The Pope" founded North Sails in 1957.

Lowell North: he founded North Sails in 1957 | Photo: North Sails

A Passion For Sailing

As an aeronautic and aerospace engineer, Lowell North adopted a rigorous scientific approach to revolutionize new ways of shaping and making sails.

He won a gold medal at the Mexico 1968 Olympic Games alongside Peter Barrett, and five Star World Championship titles.

"Lowell always hired the best people - who he called 'Tigers' - and committed himself to the science and technology of making the best products," explains Tom Whidden, CEO of North Technology Group.

"His passion for sailing and development was unrivaled. Lowell was never afraid to experiment and introduced new shapes and new materials to the sport," adds Kim Andersen, president of World Sailing.

Lowell North passed away peacefully with his wife Bea by his side.