Owen Churchill was a leading figure in U.S. yachting circles for more than 50 years. Born to a wealthy family, his mother gave him a boat to try and dissuade him from his passion for flying. After graduating from Stanford in 1919, he won his first major race when he captured the San Diego Thomas Lipton trophy with his 53-foot sloop, Galliano. From then on his successes were legion, but Churchill had to wait until 1928 for the United States to send yachtsmen to the Olympics. He competed in 1928, 1932, and 1936 to become the first American to compete in three Olympic regattas. In 1932, Churchill’s boat, the Angelita, won the gold easily by sweeping the Canadian entry in four straight races. Churchill was the captain of the U.S. yachting team in all three of his Olympic appearances and he would later serve on the international jury at the 1952 Games. After a disappointing performance at the 1936 Olympics, Owen Churchill leased a Tahitian island for two years and, while there, he was intrigued by the crudely fashioned fins which the natives used for diving. Churchill spotted the commercial possibilities of the swim fin and imported the idea to the states, where his “invention” was a huge commercial success. Owen Churchill was a friend of sporting champions and film stars and married the former Norma Drew, who had appeared in the early Laurel and Hardy films.