Tom Leutwiler

Last updated

Tom Leutwiler
Born(1948-09-07)September 7, 1948
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedNovember 19, 1993(1993-11-19) (aged 45)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
MediumPhotography, yacht racing, aerial photography

TomLeutwiler (September 7, 1948 – November 19, 1993) was a sailing photographer, whose work appeared on the covers of Yachting and Yacht Racing magazines, and was published in Time , Sailing World, Seahorse (England), Voile et Voiles (France) and others for nearly two decades. His dry sense of humor became as much a part of the Leutwiler trademark[ citation needed ] as his photography.


As founder of Leutwiler Photography, Leutwiler captured moments in sailing with his Hasselblad cameras and produced calendars, sold coast-to-coast, from 1979 to 1990. His aerial photographs have been displayed by CBS News, NBC News, Turner Broadcasting, DuPont, the Audubon Society, E.F. Hutton, Hewlett Packard, Warner Communications, the U.S. Senate and United States House of Representatives, and the White House.[ citation needed ]

Early life

Leutwiler was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Charles and Virginia Leutwiler, and his heritage traces back to the Leutwil municipality of Switzerland.

Leutwiler grew up in Glendale, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and at the age of 14, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout,[ citation needed ] the highest rank possible. He graduated from Kirkwood High School in 1966 and participated in the School Newspaper, Chemistry Club, Biology Club, and German Club.

He majored in business at University of Tulsa and Washington University in St. Louis, and served as vice-president of Sales and President of Junior Achievement. Before founding his own business, Leutwiler held a variety of sales positions at the Fuller Brush Company, and Allied Electronics.

Personal life

Leutwiler married in 1978, and lived in Peabody, Massachusetts and Danvers, Massachusetts with his wife and two stepsons Matt and Adam. He operated Leutwiler Photography from home, and members of the family often appeared in the quarterly Shooting the Breeze newsletter and assisted in running the business.

Leutwiler Photography


In June 1973, Leutwiler used a professional 35 mm system to photograph his first sailboat race, the Marblehead, Massachusetts to Halifax, Nova Scotia race. He later stated the "quality was a disaster by my standards today", but as result of this race, Deadelus Photography was born (name changed to Leutwiler Photography in 1979). Leutwiler quickly realized that 35 mm would not produce sufficient images for professional enlargements, and soon made the permanent transition to Hasselblad cameras. He slowly began to find his market, selling his photographs primarily to sailboat owners, crew members, boat manufacturers, sailing magazines, and calendars published by magazines. In a 1987 interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch , he compared his niche to "selling paper clips to General Motors".


At the Miami-Nassua Race of the 1976 SORC, Leutwiler photographed Love Machine, [1] which many sailors felt was the best action photograph of the period.[ citation needed ] It appeared as the cover of Yacht Racing Magazine in April 1976, and played a critical role in the building the recognition of the Leutwiler brand name. Wham Bam, Sunset, Tweety, Lonely Sea, and Condor were also published around this time and all became cornerstones of Leutwiler Photography.


By 1978, about 1000 of Leutwiler's photographs had been published nationally in various companies' ads, brochures, and boat show displays.[ citation needed ] In the Fall of 1978, the first of many editions of the Shooting The Breeze newsletter was circulated to his ever growing customer list. The newsletter soon began to incorporate the elements of light hearted humor that would become a Leutwiler trademark.


In the Spring 1980 edition of Shooting The Breeze, Leutwiler announced "Here we are in the Spring of 1980 and I thought I would tell you about my first entirely Leutwiler calendar for 1981. We have selected 13 of my best photographs and are currently in production. The printing quality will be superb and I feel it will be the best sailing calendar for 1981." The 1981 calendar sold out, kicking off a highly successful decade-long run.

1982 – 1990

The 1980s were the peak years for Leutwiler Photography, as the annual calendar became a bigger staple of the sailboat racing world with each passing year, and his classic and new portraits continued to be a success. But after nearly twenty years of hard work and devotion, Leutwiler lost his passion and drive for sailboat photography and closed down the business in the 1990, selling off his negatives and camera equipment. He moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in the early 1990s and pursued a variety of other interests including real estate ventures. In 1993, he died in Salt Lake City.

In addition to photographing the event, in 1983 Tom paired up with television producer Stephen H. Schwartz to make "SORC:!983" a video documentary about the six races in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference. The film was sponsored by SEBAGO and was sold in the newly popular VHS and BETAMAX formats. The documentary was narrated by Gary Jobson.

Sailboat races

Below is a partial listing of sailboat races Leutwiler photographed.

Onion Patch/Newport to Bermuda
Off Soundings
1977Key West Race
Marion To Bermuda
Block Island – Storm Trysail
Marblehead to Halifax
Chicago to Mackinac
Bayview to Mackinac
Annapolis Fall Series
Onion Patch/Newport to Bermuda
Bay Week
Chicago to Mackinac
Bayview to Mackinac
Annapolis Fall Series
Block Island – Storm Trysail
Chicago to Mackinac
New York YC Cruise
Block Island – Yachting Magazine
Off Soundings
J-24 Mid Winters
Block Island – Storm Trysail
Chicago to Mackinac
Bayview to Mackinac
Onion Patch/Newport to Bermuda
Key West Race
Block Island – Yachting Magazine
Manhassett Bay Fall Series
Columbus Day Regatta
Chicago to Mackinac
Bayview to Mackinac
Block Island – Storm Trysail
Onion Patch/Newport to Bermuda
Key West Race
Block Island – Yachting Magazine

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  1. SailingScuttlebutt,

2 Love Machine