Tom Hutchinson, founder of Future Fibres, died recently after a kite-surfing accident on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. Hutchinson was a leading supplier to successive America’s Cups teams. He was praised across the sailing industry for his enthusiasm and drive towards innovation.
Hutchinson’s brother, Riff, was on the beach when the accident happened August 7. Hutchinson was bleeding profusely and went into a coma. According to his obituary on CountyPress.uk.co, he died at home.
Born Brighstone in 1967 on the Isle of Wight, Hutchinson spent his childhood in West Wight. He left school at 16 to pursue his love of the sea, becoming a deckhand on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean. Hutchinson then became a skipper at 18, delivering yachts across the Atlantic. He decided to specialize in rigging, did an apprenticeship and moved to San Diego, California, to run a workshop servicing racing boats in the America’s Cup.
Hutchinson eventually established his own rigging company, Future Fibres, in London. When New Zealand won the America's Cup, Future Fibres transferred its business to Auckland to service the America’s Cup in that country. Four years later, he moved the operation to Valencia, Spain, for another America’s Cup event.
Future Fibres would pioneer the use of continuously wound, unidirectional fiber for yacht rigging, soon becoming the world’s leading supplier of composite rigging to the race, cruise, and superyacht markets, said an obituary in Scuttlebutt Sailing News.
"Tom’s work took him all over the world, which suited his free-spirited, charismatic personality, and he made many life-long friends in the process,” his father, Francis, told the paper. "But the draw of the Island was always with him and he returned to his cliff-top cottage whenever he could to pursue his great love of kiteboarding in the Back of the Wight."
“Future Fibres was the perfect vehicle for Tom’s combined love for water sports and passion for innovation,” added Southern Spars in a Facebook tribute. “Hutchinson took the company from very humble beginnings on the Isle of Wight to an internationally recognized company with a reputation for innovative products that helped our customers go faster and gain an edge on the race course, be it the field of yacht racing, motorsports, or indeed any arena in which Tom felt he could make a difference,”