Eight Bells: Paul Elvstrøm 1928-2016

Author:
Updated:
Original:
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

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more

01-LEAD-'21.05.01_Jay-&-Mira

Cruising: Bluewater Pollywogs

Bluewater sailing is 25 percent actually sailing and 75 percent learning how to live on a boat at sea, in constant motion and with no chance to get off the roller coaster. I cannot over-emphasize how difficult normal daily functions become at sea, even on nice, calm days. ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_0078

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 2

If you missed the first installment, click here. Thankfully, the deck and cockpit of my decades-old Santana 27, Shirley Rose, were in pretty good shape. The balsa core, in particular, was for the most part nice and solid. Nonetheless, there was still a fair bit of work to do. ...read more

orca

Orca Encounters on the Rise

This week’s confrontation between a pod of orcas and the Nauticat 44 ketch Tuuletar which left the boat rudderless is just the latest in a string of encounters with orcas off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, over 50 of these encounters have been reported, half of ...read more

01-LEAD-Project-complete

DIY: an Antique Nav Station

Ever since the advent of GPS, I have not found much use for the chart table on my schooner Britannia. Most of our passagemaking navigation is done on a Raymarine multifunction display on the helm pod, which is then transferred to a paper chart on the saloon table roughly every ...read more