Over a prolific career spanning more than 50 years, the Olin STEPHENS signature was stamped on the drawings of over 2,000 boats, including eight boats which would win the America's Cup. As well as his famous designs, Olin's love for the sport also manifested beyond his professional life, in his dedicated service to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and in other areas of sailing administration.
Born in New York in 1908, Olin's love affair with sailing and boat design developed during summers spent on the New England coast. Sparkman & Stephens, the company he helped to form aged just 21, made an instant impact on the sailing world with their innovative design for the 52 foot ocean racer Dorade. Dorade went on to win both the Transatlantic and Fastnet races in 1931 and Sparkman & Stephens became a name synonymous with innovative, fast and elegant design. These principals were perfectly demonstrated in the legendary J-Class Ranger, a collaboration between Olin and Starling BURGESS, which successfully defended the 1937 America's Cup and began Sparkman & Stephens' long running association with that event.
Alongside his design work, Olin was a member of, or consultant to, the IYRU (which became ISAF in 1996) Keelboat Committee from 1963 into the 1990s. He headed the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) committee that developed the International Offshore Rule, known as the IOR. He was also active in the creation and maintenance of the successor to the IOR, the International Measurement System (IMS) and served two terms as the Chairman of the Offshore Racing Council's International Technical Committee.
Olin's talent and dedication brought him many awards. In 1992 he was awarded the ISAF Beppe Croce Trophy, presented for outstanding voluntary contribution to the sport of sailing. The following year he was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame. During ISAF's Centenary year in 2007, he was named as one of six inaugural inductees into the ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame and, aged 99, he personally accept his award at the Induction dinner in Estoril, Portugal to a resounding reception.
ISAF extends our sincere sympathy and condolences to Olin's family and friends.