Living , Modern




1956 -

“The nicest guy in sailing”. That’s how Mike Toppa is often described by others, and to any who watch him sail and organize programs, it is obviously an apt description. Whether as a member of an America’s Cup team, or as a leader in fundraising for his local sailing foundation, Mike is known for being intensely talented and competitive while at the same time exuding a calming influence, a rare and welcome combination in the world of yacht racing.

His talent, combined with his demeanor, has made him a valuable asset to any racing program he joins. According to Buddy Melges, “Regardless of any situation that might arise, Mike is so even-keeled; his ability to communicate, in various ways, and his feel for the sail, is incredible. His trim is always optimized for whatever the helmsman might have up his sleeve… he is always right with you or one step ahead of you. He has a better eye than most…his knowledge of sails, and how they should look, is amazing”.

Accomplishments and Honors:
• Sailed Whitbread Race Legs 3, 6 & 7 on Chessie Racing
• Defended America’s Cup with Dennis Connor (Freedom) in 1980
• Defended America’s Cup with Bill Koch (America3) in 1992
• Sailed in America’s Cup Trials in 1983 (Defender), 1987(Eagle) & 2000, 2003 (Stars &Stripes)
• Sail designer for America’s cup yachts Freedom, Liberty, Defender, Azzura, Courageous, Austrailia II, America3 and Stars & Stripes
• Sail Program Coordinator for Defender, Eagle, Stars and Stripes (2000 & 2003)
• Winner and Set Annapolis – Newport Race Course Record in 1999
• Winner and Set Fort Lauderdale – Jamaica Race Course Record in 2005
• Winner and Set Vineyard Race Course Record in 2005
• Winner Halifax Race in 2005
• Winner Key West Race Week & Boat of the Week 1999
• Winner St. Barth’s Bucket 2008, 2010
• Winner 6 Meter World Championships Classic Division 2009
• Winner Newport Bucket 2006
• Winner 12 Meter World Championships 1984, 2005, 2010
• Winner Maxi World Championships in 1990
• Winner Swan North American Championships 2005
• Winner Swan World Championships 1988, 2005
• Winner St. Thomas Rolex Regatta
• Winner Heineken Regatta
• Winner Antigua Race Week
• Winner Voile de St. Tropez 2011
• Co-authored book Speed Sailing with Gary Jobson
• Sailed in many other inshore and offshore regattas including, Cape – Rio Race, Sardinia Cup, Bermuda Race (7), Sydney to Hobart Race, SORC, Block Island Race Week, Gotland Round and Copa del Ray
• Past one-design activity includes Melges 24, Shields, J-24, Etchells 22 and Snipe classes
• Coach of winning team 2011 Opti National Team Race Championships


The following biography on Mike is excerpted from the North Sails website:
Mike Toppa got into sailing at age 11 after he saw 12 meters at the docks in Newport, RI, “I went down the dock, ended up helping out and became the dock boy for Intrepid”. His first time sailing was on their trial horse Constellation. From then on, he wanted to learn how to sail and win the America’s Cup. The following summer he took sailing lessons at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport and hasn’t given it up since!

Mike began working at North Sails in 1978 as a spinnaker designer, and in 1984 opened his own North Sails loft in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Currently focusing on superyacht, classic yacht and grand prix classes, Mike also has experience with America’s Cup sails, as well as the Swan and Melges 24 classes.

Mike has participated in seven America’s Cup campaigns as both a sailor and a sail designer, with two America’s Cup wins under his belt. Also completing numerous legs of the Whitbread/Volvo around-the-world races, as well as many World Championship titles in various big boat classes, Mike claims his biggest accomplishment is “getting his daughters involved in competitive sailing and enjoying it as much as I do.”

In his free time, Mike enjoys exercise, skiing, and helping out with the local junior sailing committee, “because of all the traveling I do, I like to spend weekends either staying at home or going with my daughters to their regattas.”

Melges, Buddy. Personal interview. 4 April 2013.
“Mike Toppa” North Sails North America. North Sails Group, LLC. Web. 2 April 2013.
Sailing Resume provided by Crayton Walters, nominator

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