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Eight Bells: Jim Allsopp

Published on March 13th, 2016

Sailing industry leader Jim Allsopp died after a 4 year battle with brain cancer on March 12 in Annapolis, MD. Jim was 72 years of age.

Jim Allsopp was a sailing legend who has personally and professionally influenced many sailors. Jim was one of those naturally talented sailors – he won the 1976 Star World Championship in Nassau, beating Tom Blackaller, Pelle Petterson, Malin Burnham, and Bill Buchan. Jim also won the 1976 Star European Championship in Marstrand, Sweden.

Jim most probably would have continued winning in the Star Class had Lowell North not seen enough of his talents to ask Jim to be the trimmer on his 12 meter Enterprise for the 1977 America’s Cup Defender Series. That was followed up by an offer from Lowell for Jim to run the new North Sails loft in Annapolis. Jim accepted and his loft became one of the most successful in the company.

Through his work with North Sails, Jim became an ambassador for sailing in Europe.

Jim survived the stormy 1979 Fastnet Race where 15 people died and 5 boats sank. He was sailing Ricardo Bonadeo’s 50 footer Rrose Selavy and brought his rookie team back home safely. Italy and Spain were just breaking into the international sailing scene and Jim was a frequent invite during the 1980’s on the Italian Sardinia Cup and Admiral’s Cup teams. Jim brought his sailing talent and good humor to those teams who were hungry to learn from the best.

In the 1990’s, Spain’s fledgling big boat group called in Jim to help get them up the ladder. Jim often sailed with King Juan Carlos and was a regular helmsman and tactician for the Spanish maxi, one ton, and Copa Del Rey teams.

Meanwhile, Jim kept his hand in the America’s Cup and sailed as navigator on the 12m Eagle in the 1987 edition in Perth, Australia and as mainsail trimmer on Russell Long’s 12m Clipper in the 1980 Defender Series. Not one to take a break, Jim sailed in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race on George Collin’s entry Chessie Racing.

After stepping down from running North Sails Chesapeake, Jim later managed North Sails’ marketing department and influenced the company’s worldwide image. He owned a succession of boats and most recently raced his Mumm 30 and J/70 with his two sons as well as being a highly sought after tactician in Superyacht circuit, primarily on the schooner Elena and J Class yacht Shamrock.

Jim will be great missed by his family and friends.

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