Mike Toppa: One job, One dream

Published on April 17th, 2023

Mike Toppa is one of the best-known faces in big boat and America’s Cup sailing, whichever corner of the world you inhabit. Yet in an illustrious – but discrete – career which has now spanned more than 40 years he has only really worked for one employer. He talks to Carol Cronin for Seahorse Magazie:

I’ve admired Mike Toppa from afar for many years, but it wasn’t until last winter – standing side by side on an ice-slickened dock, thumbs busily trying to propel our DF95 model boats around a tiny race- course in the most protected corner of Newport Harbor – that we actually had a conversation. Such a soft-spoken, glass- half-full kind of guy – even on one particularly arctic race day, when his mast just inexplicably… broke.

Toppa’s default facial expression is a smile, and he exudes a comfortable calm; not the usual demeanor at the pointy end of our sport. I was quite curious; how does the nicest guy in sailing win three America’s Cups – over three decades, with three different job descriptions? How has he kept what he calls ‘only one job’ through 44 years and counting at North Sails, despite an entire industry revolution? And, perhaps most surprising of all: why is he still so completely jazzed about sailboat racing? – Full report

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