Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT /

Richard I. Stearns, Profiles of Star Champions

Richard I. Stearns (Starlights, April, 1970)

Dick Stearns returning to Chicago after winning the Gold Star In 1962.

It is difficult to think of anyone in the Star Class who has had such a successful racing career stretching over so long a period as Richard I. Stearns. He flashed into prominence twenty five years ago, when barely out of college, by winning the Great Lakes Championship in his first Glider, and he has been consistently winning major events ever since.

With characteristic modesty, Richard and his charming wife Frances do not display many of his prizes in their home in a northern suburb of Chicago. If they were to gather together every Star trophy he had ever won and try to put them all into one room, they would certainly have to move everything else out. He has won five Blue Stars, six U.S. Shipping Board trophies and ten Sheridan Shore Race Weeks, along with many lesser series of the IV District. But it is in the "big name" events that his performance is the most impressive.

He has won the Bacardi Cup twice, in 1967 and 1968. He holds no less than nine Silver Stars, a record exceeded only by Agostino Straulino's ten European Championships. Five of these were consecutive Spring Championships from 1962 to 1966. Along the way he scooped up five Jahncke trophies and three Walker-Meyers series, the open events that accompany Spring Championships.

In 1947 he made his first serious bid for the Gold Star, finishing third in the World's at Los Angeles. He missed first by a scant point on Chesapeake Bay in 1951. Eleven years later he won the Gold Star the hard way, against 73 entries in Portugal.

Representing the United States in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, he and his long time faithful crew Lynn Williams won silver medals.

Because he is the president of Murphy & Nye, the name of Richard Stearns has long been synonymous with Sailmaker to many people. But Dick's career is a typical example of the normal course of events in such cases: he is not a good sailor because he is a sailmaker; rather, he is a good sailmaker because he is a sailor. The Star racing came first, the sail making later. He acquired the business from Harry Nye, another World's Champion and former Commodore of the Star Class.

Dick occasionally steals time off from Stars to sail long distance cruising races. He enjoys ice?boating and dinghy racing during the winter, and has been known to build and fly model airplanes under the expert guidance of a teen?age son. He has for many years been an enthusiastic flier, using his own light plane for both business and pleasure. On more than one occasion the whole family has piled into the plane to fly to some far distant Star event.

Despite all his other activities, Richard Stearns' first and permanent loyalty has been to Star racing. This month he is planning to make a bid at New Orleans for yet one more Silver Star in the 1970 Spring Championship. We wish him luck, and another quarter century as successful as the last.

richard stearns