EIGHT BELLS: Magnus Olsson
Published on April 21st, 2013
Magnus Olsson (64), one of the greatest sportsmen in the world of sailing, passed away on April 20, 2013 at a hospital in Spain. Magnus suffered a stroke during the week and, despite initial positive signs, deteriorated over the following days.
Since the mid-1960s Magnus ‘Mange’ Olsson lived with his passion for offshore racing. From Swedish National Sailing Championship regattas in 505s when he was in his teens, via the America’s Cup to the Volvo Ocean Race, he was a central figure in Swedish sailing.
It was another Swedish sailing legend, Pelle Petterson, who got Mange to start sailing full time. In the mid-1970s Mange had just graduated from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and imagined an engineering career, when Pelle called and persuaded him to become a crew member on the yacht ‘Sverige’ in the America’s Cup. It was in 1976, Magnus was 27 years old and he did not hesitate to start sailing professionally.
Magnus Olsson has participated in six Whitbread / Volvo Ocean Races. First time was in the 1984-1985 on ‘Drum’. He was a member of the winning crew on ‘EF Language’ in 1997-1998 with Paul Cayard as skipper. Mange himself ranked this victory as his greatest sporting achievement.
The last time Magnus sailed the Volvo Ocean Race was in 2008-2009. Then he was skipper on ‘Ericsson 3’ who finished fourth. During this race, another of Mange’s great sailing achievement in his sailing career occurred when ‘Ericsson 3’ won the longest leg in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race’, between Qingdao in northern China to Rio de Janeiro, a distance of 12,300 nautical miles that they managed to sailed in just over 40 days.
During the last few months, Mange has been involved as a coach, trainer and mentor for the all-female crew of Team SCA currently preparing to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 campaign.
“It’s with great sadness I received the news about Magnus passing away today. He was my mentor when I sailed around the world with him 20 years ago, he was the inspiration for me and for so many more and more than anything he was the smile of the race. A true friend has left on his final leg and the sailing world will never be the same without Magnus and his smile. Never. My thoughts are with his two sons and his close family today.” – Knut Frostad, CEO Volvo Ocean Race.
“Mange has been vital in building Volvo Ocean Race during more than a decade. He inspired us all with his joyful style, his clever words and huge experience from the seven seas. We will miss him enormously at Volvo, and so will our customers who loved his great presentations.” – Sven Österberg, a spokesman for Volvo Group.
“Mange was the greatest person I have ever met, one of my very best friends, and one of the greatest sailors ever. He was a unique man who brought energy, humor and love to everyone around him. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time. He meant a lot to so many people and currently he was a fundamental part of Team SCA. The team will continue the great work that he started, training and working in the way that he would have expected. He will be sorely missed by us all. It is a true privilege to have been a friend of Mange, and I will proudly carry his legacy with me forever,” said Richard Brisius, Managing Director of Team SCA, SCA’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race.
“Magnus was a great sportsman who, throughout his impressive offshore racing career, brought his passionate spirit and enthusiasm to the sport. He has inspired our female crew, many other sailors, both young and old, and all of us who had the opportunity of meeting and knowing him. Magnus will be deeply missed around the world. Our thoughts now go to his family and all who were touched by his energy and passionate spirit,” said Jan Johansson, President and CEO of SCA.