Heiner Walter Meldner

Heiner Walter Meldner

Heiner Walter Meldner, a former Lab physicist, died May 24. He was 80.

Meldner was born on May 21,1939 in Koenigsberg/Prussia, Germany, the second of four children.

In 1965 he obtained a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Frankfurt, West Germany, followed by two years at the University of California, Berkeley on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Postdoctoral Fellowship. He became an associate professor at Frankfurt University of West Berlin in 1967, followed by an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego in 1971 and became a U.S. citizen shortly thereafter. During his time in San Diego he developed an interest in sailing, met Lowell North and became a consultant to North Sails where he was instrumental in developing proprietary sail design codes that tested sails digitally. Over the next decade he worked at Lawrence Livermore National Lab on the development of a number of classified weapons concepts.

Meldner was daring in all that he did. Retiring early from his career in Livermore, he turned his passion for sailing into a career designing America's Cup racing yachts. He participated in several successful America's Cup campaigns around the world; most notably the winning 1992 America 3 campaign out of San Diego Yacht Club, skippered by Bill Koch. America 3 raced with Cuben Fiber sails, a high-performance non-woven composite sail material he helped design. Later he co-founded both Cuben Fiber Corp. and Cubic Tech Corp., which manufactured the lightweight composite material and he helped author a number of related patents.

He is survived by his wife, Valerie, of 42 years; his son, Chris Meldner, and daughter-in-law, Gina; daughter Bridget Anello and son-in-law, Dan; four grandchildren, Samantha, Joe, James Meldner and Chloe Anello. He also is survived by two brothers, Volker and Dietmar Meldner; his sister Heidrun Goppl; brothers-in-law, Steve and Jeff Carmichael; and sister-in-law Susan Carmichael.