Pepe Stratton


Pepe Stratton died peacefully at home in Bembridge on 5th September aged 87.  Pepe spent her younger years sailing at Itchenor where her father had been Commodore from 1937 until he was promoted to Admiral of the Club in 1957.

Her father, Sir Geoffrey Lowles, was commodore in the important period of putting sailing back into the Harbour and Itchenor SC post War.

He sponsored the first 4 Fireflies (named Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum) made in 1946 and that is how ISC became the Firefly Spiritual Home. Pepe joined ISC as a junior member in 1949 and sailed one of these Firefles along with Marcia Birkett, a current member.

Pepe was given  “Trout”, an early Firefly, which she helmed along with other young ladies, not just in Chichester, but at all the Firefly Championship events from late 1940’s into the late 1950’s, and her name is on many Entry and on many Prize Lists at a time when there were few Lady Helms.

The famous ISC Burgee Trophy was given to the Firefly Class at ISC by the Lowles family.

Pepe, being a talented sailor in her younger days there were no women’s classes in the Olympics in her heyday, but she entered the Olympic Trials in a Finn which also had Charles Currey,  Martin Beale, as well as Vernon her husband, who were three of the best Finn sailors in the world in the Fifties, but that didn’t put her off one little bit.

It was the late 1940’s after the 1948 Games that Vernon arrived at Itchenor. He sailed a new Firefly, “Dryfly” which he so named to catch the “Trout”. Which he did and married her!

After the 1948 Olympics, Pepe acquired and sailed Swallow No 1 named “Toocantoo” the prototype, which was again financed by her Father as a trial boat for the 1948 Games. She remained a very formidable person and guided and supported Vernon through the 1950’s in his endeavors of his sailing career. Always present and in support, Pepe could be seen on the land knitting or embroidering.

Vernon & Pepe realised very early on that the British sailors who were very talented, treated the sport in an amateur fashion and they persuaded the RYA that if the Brit’s were going to start beating the Russian’s and East German’s at sailing in the Olympics, then a more professional approach was necessary, similar to the approach adopted by the runners in the film The Chariot’s of Fire.

In 1967, Vernon became RYA Olympic Sailing Manager and Pepe was his assistant and together they assembled a formidable support team for the 1968 Mexico Acapulco Games. They had a team doctor, a weather reporter, a team boatman and 3 RIBs, so that drinks, first aid, tools and spare sails could be available on every course area. It was Pepe that arranged for their up to date analysis to be given to the competitors  prior to the 10 minute gun. For Vernon & Pepe only the best was good enough.

Nowadays, there would be an RYA Coach in each RIB, but in 1968 there were no coaches.

Their inspired decision was to arrange for the entire British team to arrive in Acapulco one month ahead of the Games for acclimatisation and to overcome 100 degrees plus temperature and 100% humidity.

I quote Iain Macdonald-Smith who won a gold medal crewing Rodney Pattisson in the Flying Dutchman class at these Games: ‘My most vivid memory of Pepe’s role in supporting the Team was the BBQ at a nearby beach she organised for the whole team on the layday, which added to the strong team spirit. The best way to describe their Olympic roles in 1968 and 1972 games was simple… ‘Together they made a great Team’.

It is this approach introduced by the Statton’s all those years ago, that now produces so many of the medals won in sailing at the Olympics.

Pepe was a beautiful, kind, dedicated, a wonderful cook and generous person, the only child of Sir Geoffrey Lowles. She will be sadly missed by many and Itchenor Sailing Club Members can be proud that she started her early life in the sailing world at our Club.


01243 512400

Itchenor Sailing Club



West Sussex

PO20 7AG


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