Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
ISCYRA official condolences to sailing sport hero GOLD STAR PAUL ELVSTROM.
The Star Class is saddened to hear today about the passing of Danish Sailing Team (Sejlerlandsholdet) Olympic legend Paul Elvstrom at the age of 88. Elvstrom was a 2 x Star World Champion (1966 & 1967) as well as the winner of four Olympic gold medals and eleven world titles in an amazing eight different types of boat, Mr. Elvstrom influenced the sport around the world, and was an inspiration to sailors around the world.
From Lars Grael, ISCYRA President (2014/2017):
Sailing Legend Paul Elvstrom dies at 88.
4 times Olympic Champion and 13 times World Champion, Elvstrom was the first ever great sailing legend at Olympic classes.
Paul was a boat designer and built sails; boats; masts; fittings and sailing gear. Who never had while sailing an Elvstrom bailer or a ratchet block?
He published many rule books with tactical skills entitled "Elvstrom Explains".
At the Star Class his short career was relevant enough to win 1966 and 1967 World`s and George Elder Trophy; Bud Vanderveer Trophy; Commodore Harry Nye Trophy – 1966.
He sailed against my uncles Erik and Axel Schmidt in the Soling Class at Kiel Olympics in 1972. He sold sails to my grandfather's Preben Schmidt 6 Meter "Aileen" in the sixties.
Sailing Idol and Olympic hero, I met Paul and Trine Elvstrom for the 1984 Tornado Class Olympic campaign.
I had the pleasure to sail with and against him for two Olympic campaigns and once together on Super Maxi "Ipanema" (photo above) in a regatta in Palma de Mallorca.
Our friendship made me an Elvstrom Sails sailmaker in Brazil from 1987 till 1993. My oldest daughter Trine Grael name is influenced by Paul's daughter and Tornado crew Trine Elvstrom.
As a sailor, my greatest honor to remember him was not to occasionally beat Paul & Trine (just a few times) in the Tornado Class, but to become the runner-up to his last international title at the 1988 Kiel Week.
"Paul was my greatest idol, and probably of many other sailors of many generations too."
"A true legend and a great example that made a reference for an era of our beloved sport. A true great! The sport of Sailing is mourning today".
He transformed sailboat racing. Put in the training and hours. Loved the Finn and the Star boat. He was the 1st Robert Sheidt!! Just a real, real cool guy. Obsessed but, so cool.
I was lucky to visit Mr. Elvstrom in 1986 at his house in Hellerup next to the club. I was just passing through and Jan Persson took me there. He was my idol and educator growing up, his books "Expert Keelboat and Dinghy Racing" and a few years later "Elvstrom Speaks on Yacht Racing" were my bibles. I knew every word! I still utilize his sailmaking advice from his first book.
I remember Paul's sailing demonstration at the Star Worlds in Kiel 1966. We had wind conditions where sailors today would not leave the harbour. 8 (eight) bft. westerly to north-west winds which means big waves in Kiel on Stollergrund. Dark grey clouds. If you would see the Star Log 1967 with the cover photo you can imagine what this means. His crew was John Albrechtson from Sweden. The results: 1-3-2-1-11 My memory is that we all were total fascinated how he handled his boat in this conditions.
One year later the worlds in Kopenhagen on the Öresund in front of Skovshoved Harbour the conditions where much lighter, sunny weather, nice winds. He sailed with a young danish sailor Poul Mik-Meyer. Results: 1-12-4-5-4. 5 Races, no discard and star class's own scoring system. Paul 288 points, Lowell North 285 points. Don Trask 283 and Joe Duplin 282 points. It was very very close on the last day. Paul waited at the finishing line until Lowell fined the race - in place 17. Poul was Champion again.
By the way, my dear friend - you can be happy to be an active sailor today. At that time, 1960s, it was the rule that the President of the Star Class could not sail the Worlds. He was in one person Chief Race Committee Chairman and Chief of the International Jury and decided every problem by his own. So he made the decision in Kiel, that the sailors are responsible for their own and have to make their own decision to race or not to race. The Starting Vessel was an old large heavy steamer owned by the Water Department, which means, they could go out in every condition. I remember that Ding Schoonmaker sank his boat. After the race the above mentioned race committee vessel pulled up his star and Ding was able to race next day. Today the race committees feel much more responsible for the security of sailors and boats.