Eight Bells: Paul Elvstrøm 1928-2016

Author:
Publish date:
Paul Elvstrom

Elvstrom was both an innovator and a magnificent sailor

This past December, the world of competitive sailing lost one of its greats when Danish Olympian Paul Elvstrøm died in his sleep at the age of 88 in Hellerup, Denmark.

In addition to being the preeminent Olympic sailor of his generation, winning four consecutive gold medals in the Firefly and Finn classes between 1948 and 1960, Elvstrøm was a brilliant innovator in terms of both training and equipment.

Among his many creations were his automatic bailers, which are still in use today, and the now ubiquitous hiking strap—which in turn prompted him to develop a rigorous exercise regimen designed to allow him to take full advantage of this device. He was also widely renowned for his cutting-edge sails. In 1996, Elvstrøm was honored as the “Danish Sportsman of the Century” in recognition of his accomplishments, and in 2007, Elvstrøm was among the first six inductees into the ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame.

“He was a great hero for Denmark and for the world of sailing,” said Danish Laser Radial sailor Anne-Marie Rindom, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. “When I started in the Optimist I was like, ‘Yeah, the hiking strap is just another part of the boat,’ and I remember my coach said to me, ‘You know Paul Elvstrøm, he invented the hiking strap.’ I was just starting in the Optimist and the hiking strap was there and I didn’t think about where it came from. I thought, ‘That’s amazing. What did they do before the hiking strap?’ I remember at that time I came to think of him as a great man for the sport and a hero in my world.” 

February 2017

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more