Eight Bells: HKH Prince Henrik

Published on February 16th, 2018

His Royal Highness Prince Henrik passed away on February 13, 2018 at the age of 83, at Fredensborg Castle, surrounded by the royal family.

The sport of sailing lost a respected ambassador and committed pioneer, who, with his presence, his interest and passion for nature, the boat and the water, brought the pleasure of sailing life far beyond the sailing communities own reach.

Just the encounter with nature, the experience and the freedom of the water, combined with the excitement, concentration and tactics in a race, was appealing to the Prince, who over the years participated in a multitude of racing at national and international level. In the sport, the Prince could also enjoy the comradeship before and after the sailing, which he always emphasized as one of the very valuable aspects of sailing.

Bringing new vitality to boat classes
Prince Henrik’s commitment to sailing began in 1967, where Royal Danish Yacht Club (RDYC) donated a one design keelboat, ‘Knarr’ as a wedding gift to the Royal couple. Crown Princess Margrethe was sailing in Triton, but it was Prince Henrik, who became excited by sailing and later racing. Prince Henrik was very involved in giving the Knarr class a new vitality, and competed regularly in national races and attended in the International Knarr Championship in the Danish team.

Prince Henrik’s great profit in Danish sailing was his deep commitment to the Dragon class, which he helped to reboot at a meeting he held at Fredensborg in 1982. The preceding year the Dragon Gold Cup was sailed in Skovshoved, north of Copenhagen the following year. The Prince’s entrances in the class drew great attention to the Dragon who received a renaissance in Denmark and internationally after joining the Olympics for the last time in 1972.

The Prince showed a great talent as a skipper with many great national and international results, including the European Bronze medal in 1987. He participated in many Danish competitions, Danish Nationals, Nordics, Europeans, Worlds and Dragon Gold Cups.

Prince Henrik has been the owner of six Dragon’s, the last one was the famous “White Lady” in which the Dane Ole Berntsen won gold in Tokyo 1964. The Prince brought the famous boat came back to Denmark in 2006, after 37 years abroad.

Initiator of racing events
The Prince was also the initiator of ‘Prince Henrik Silver Trophy’, a competition in Dragon between the 4 sailing clubs: the Royal Danish Yacht Club, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Cercle de la Voile d’Arcachon, sailed for the first time in 1988. The Prince participated in his last race at the age of 78, and this was Prince Henrik Silver Trophy in Hong Kong, where he helped secure RDYC and Denmark a distinguished second place.

The Prince also took the initiative that the Dragon Class again got its own start at Régates Royales in Cannes, where HM Christian X was a keen participant in the 1920′ and 1930s.

Broad involvement in sailing
Prince Henrik was involved in many aspects of sailing, and showed his broad interest and respect for the many facets of the sport.

In the mid-1980s, Prince Henrik initiated sailings first elite training center close the Aarhus City, which has since helped to foster many international medalists in Danish sailing.

Prince Henrik was the Protector of the Danish 12m project, which focused on Danish participation at the America’s Cup in 1992 under RDYC’s burgee. The dream with Danish participation in the America’s Cup was never fulfilled, but the project generated a lift in Danish sailing, and the match race culture in Denmark developed rapidly over the years to produce some of the world’s best match race sailors.

Since the mid 1990s RDYC has organised the Nationals, Europeans, Worlds and World Match Racing Tour events in match racing in front of Skovshoved Harbor in the northern part of Copenhagen.

Prince Henrik was the patron of Denmark’s Museum for Pleasure Boats in the Danish city Svendborg, where he participated in the opening of the museum at Valdemar Castle in 1996, which has now moved to the central location in Svendborg, close to the city center. One of the most complete museums of this kind in Europe.

In 2004, Prince Henrik, together with the Royal Family, hosted an event at Christiansborg Castle for sailing representatives from all over the world when the Danish Sailing Federation hosted the Annual Meeting in Copenhagen for the then International Sailing Federation, now World Sailing.

Prince Henrik has also visited the Danish Olympic sailors during the Olympic Games on a number of occasions, most recently in Weymouth in 2012, where he was following the intense battle for gold between Danish Jonas Høgh-Christensen and Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie, and afterwards met with all that Danish Olympic Sailing Team in the Danish “meeting point”.

A great era is over
Denmark has lost a well-respected, lovable and colorful Prince, RDYC and the sailing sport has lost a popular, moody and engaged sailor as well as a good sailing mate, with a big heart for the sailing sport.

A great era is over and we can bring it forward as Prince Henrik has taught us: To be curious, to be well-oriented, to be critical, to being in the present moment, easy to a laugh, to be festive, to be generous , to be a devoted friend, to make an effort and to be yourself.

RDYC and sailing will all miss Prince Henrik as our honorary skipper and a great sailing mate.

Honor the memory of HKH Prince Henrik.

Source: Dan Ibsen, CEO, Royal Danish Yacht Club

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