Thomas A. Whidden is a sailor and sailmaker. He joined North Sails in 1986 and became President/CEO of North Marine Group when it was established ten years later. A graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Whidden has earned many accolades throughout his sailing career including the "Carl Nelson Award" from Colby College for Athletic Achievement After College in 1989 and the University Club "Man of the Year" award in 1987. In 2006, Tom received the prestigious "A Life for Sailing" Award at the Trofeo Zegna Regatta in Portofino, Italy, which is given biennially to a person who has devoted their life and career to sailing.
Whidden's leadership in the design and manufacturing of technologically advanced sails at North Sails is significant. Since Whidden became president, every America's Cup winner since 1992 and every Volvo Ocean Race winner since 1993 has raced with North sails.
Whidden, who began sailing at age ten at the Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, Connecticut, is one of the most experienced America's Cup sailors in the world. "When I was 16 my dream was to become a sailmaker and race in the America's Cup," said Whidden of his years as a junior sailor on Long Island Sound. He has sailed with Dennis Conner in a total of eight America's Cup campaigns, beginning in 1979 as Conner's trial horse skipper. He has raced as tactician in five America's Cup series races and has won the America's Cup three times (1980, 1987 and 1988.) Along with Conner, Whidden was given a key to New York City from Mayor Ed Koch in 1987 after bringing the America's Cup back to the United States from Australia. Whidden was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2004.
Outside the America's Cup arena, Whidden has won the Newport-Bermuda Race (Class A) five times and has won his class at Miami SORC five times and twice overall. He is the publisher and co-author of two books: The Art & Science of Sails and Championship Tactics. In 2005, he was featured in an article titled CEO Sailing on Forbes.com.
Tom and his wife Betsy live in Essex, Connecticut.