Friday, April 7, 2017

Paul Elvstrom, Camelot and Jack Knights

Paul Elvstrom passed away a couple of weeks after I posted about one of his projects, an obscure 11 foot dinghy, the Elvstrom Jr.

Paul Elvstrom was my teenage sailing hero in the 1960's; a larger-than-life king who ruled over the best dinghy sailors on the planet; the Olympic Finn sailors. Just as Theodore White romantically redefined the JFK presidency as a hero king ruling over Camelot, yachting journalist Jack Knights did the same with Paul Elvstrom and the band of rough, tough Finn sailors bestride the sailing dinghy world of the 1960's. Jack wrote a column for Yachts and Yachting magazine, a magazine I received via surface mail through the grace of my kindly Aunt Doris. Most columns had some news about the goings on of the Finn crowd. Through Jack Knights, the top Finn sailors of the 1960's; Richard Creagh-Osbourne, Jorg Bruder, Andre Nelis, Willi Kuhweide, Valentin Mankin, Hubert Raudaschl, Peter Tallberg, Thomas Lundquist, Peter Barrett, Henry Sprague, Bob Andre, the East Germans..., became lasting heroes as they fought each other in grueling battles in gale force winds.

Jack Knights, who himself was three time English champion in the Finn, always painted Paul Elvstrom in a different league from his counterparts. His reports added another facet to the legend. There was the Jack Knights report on Paul Elvstrom's first Star Worlds. Paul finished third in the first race but was unsatisfied with his boat speed. Overnight he moved the mast 6 inches forward which entailed, cutting the deck, changing his spreaders, changing the rigging. A normal sailor would not do this in the middle of a championship. Paul didn't give it a second thought and went on to dominate a windy World Championship.

Paul Elvstrom was the best and Jack Knights was the brilliant scribe who wrote the sailing story; a legendary band of heroes led by the incomparable Dane.

From Expert Dinghy Racing

From Expert Dinghy Racing

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