Paul Bert Elvstrøm


Paul Bert Elvstrøm

Paul Bert Elvstrøm (born February 25, 1928 in Copenhagen) is a yachtsman from Denmark. He has won the world championships fifteen times in eight different types of boat, including Snipe, Soling, Star, Flying Dutchman and Finn.

He competed in eight Olympic Games from 1948 to 1988, being one of only three persons ever (the others are athletes Carl Lewis in the long jump and Al Oerter in the discus) to win four consecutive individual gold medals (1948, '52, '56, '60), first time in a Firefly, subsequently in Finns. [cite web|url = http://www.olympic.org/uk/athletes/profiles/bio_uk.asp?par_i_id=37250 |title = International Olympic Committee - Athletes |accessdate = 2008-08-13]

Elvstrøm has also made a name of himself as developer of sails and sailing equipment and built boats, e.g. the Trapez.

One of his most successful inventions is a type of self-bailer that is still in production. This is a device set into the underwater section of the hull that can be lowered to remove water from the cockpit by means of the suction generated by the water flow. This device is extensively used in racing dinghies which do not have a self-draining cockpit.

Elvstrøm also revolutionised dinghy sailing by pioneering the technique of 'sitting out' or hiking. He was the first to fix straps, known as toe-straps, in the bottom of his dinghy. He could then hook his feet underneath the straps to enable him to get all his body weight, from the knees upwards, outside the boat, thus providing significant leverage to enable the boat to remain level in stronger winds and hence go faster than his competitors. This technique required significant fitness. Elvstrøm built a training bench with toe-straps in his garage to replicate the sitting-out position in his dinghy. He then proceeded to spend many training hours on dry land sitting out on the bench at home. This technique revolutionised dinghy racing and quickly became the norm in all dinghy classes.

He also popularised the kicking strap, or boom vang (US). This may take the form of a block and tackle linking a low point on the mast (or an equivalent point on the hull) and the boom close to the mast, which allows the boom to be let out when reaching or running without lifting. This controls the twist of the mainsail from its foot to its head, increasing the sail's power and the boat's speed and controlability. Elvstrøm did not advertise his new invention, leaving his competitors mystified at his superior boat-speed. Investigation of his dinghy revealed nothing as he used to remove the kicking strap before coming ashore.

He established a manufacturing company whose products included masts, booms, and sails. He has also been instrumental in developing several international yacht racing rules.

Among the innovative concepts he has brought to sailboat racing is the concept of gates instead of a single windward or leeward mark in large regattas. The leeward gate on a windward-leeward course is commonly used. The windward gate less often used due to the difficulties in managing right-of-way around the right gate whose subtlies are understood mostly by match racers. [cite web|url = http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/archived_Detail.asp?key=3866 |title = Scuttlebutt: Archived Newsletters |accessdate = 2008-08-13]

In 1996 Elvstrøm was chosen as "Danish Sportsman of the Century." [ [http://www.denmark.dk/en/menu/AboutDenmark/TheDanes/GreatDanes/Athletes/PaulElvstroem/] dead link|date=August 2008]

In 2007 Elvstrøm was among the first six inductees into the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing Hall of Fame. [cite web|url = http://www.sailing.org/halloffame/21227.php |title = ISAF Hall of Fame : Paul Elvström |accessdate = 2008-08-13]

Bibliography

* Elvstrom, Paul. "Expert Dinghy and Keelboat Racing", 1967, Times Books, ISBN 0812900545
* Elvstrom, Paul. "Elvström Speaks on Yacht Racing", 1970, One-Design & Offshore Yachtsman Magazine, ISBN 0812901347
* Elvstrom, Paul. "Elvström Speaks -- to His Sailing Friends on His Life and Racing Career", 1970, Nautical Publishing Company, ISBN 0245598510
* "Paul Elvström Explains the Yacht Racing Rules", First edition 1969, title updated to "Paul Elvstrom Explains the Racing Rules of Sailing: 2005-2008 Rules." Updated four-yearly in accordance with racing rules revisions, various authors and publishers. ISBN 0071456260

References


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