Eight Bells: Viggo Jacobsen

Published on April 21st, 2016

Viggo Jacobsen, the founder of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA), has died April 18 at his home in Aarhus, Denmark. He was 102 years (Feb 13, 1914 – Apr 13, 2016).

IODA was founded at the fourth Regatta in 1965 in Turku in Finland. The first members were Austria, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, and USA, followed shortly by Germany and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

The new association brought together the work of Viggo Jacobsen, who was elected president, and that of Nigel Ringrose as vice-president. These two were to remain in those positions for over 15 years with Viggo’s English-born wife Edith as honorary secretary.

Viggo was an ideal president. He had been trained in woodworking and had even owned a small boat-building company before the war. He had then joined the family paper-merchant business. As a Dragon sailor – like many of the most influential yachtsmen of his generation – he knew one-design sailing. Among other activities he organised the Århus Boat Show, the profits of which were used to fund junior sailing.

By the time Viggo retired in 1982, IODA had 44 member countries on all six continents and 30 nations at its Worlds. In that period he had overseen such daring innovations as the introduction of toe-straps, metal spars and, critical for the Class, competitive fibreglass hulls.

More about Viggo in an extract from The Optimist Dinghy 1947-2007.

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