Eight Bells: Niels Ehrhardt
Published on May 30th, 2018
The sailor and businessman Niels Ehrhardt sadly passed away May 20 at the age of 88 years, after a short period with sickness. Niels was involved in IYRU/ISAF, now World Sailing from 1980 to 2000.
After serving as president for Royal Danish Yacht Club from 1975-1979, Niels Ehrhardt started his involvement in IYRU in 1980. Niels’s first international post was in the Boardsailing Committee during a period, where windsurfing was a whole new sailing discipline and came to the Olympic program for the first time in Los Angeles in 1984.
In 1983 Niels was elected Class Policy & Organization Committee, which was later renamed the Events Committee, which better describes the committee’s task of making all decisive decisions about sailing’s international championships, competitions, formats and boat classes, including and not least, sailing on the Olympic program. He served in the committee for an unbroken period until 2000, the last term of the Chairman of the committee.
Niels Ehrhardt was very dedicated to his different tasks in international sailing and worked hard to ensure decisions that benefited the entire global sailing community, and not only the traditional sailing nations in Europe and North America.
He was a clever strategist, and at the same time very diplomatic and open to ideas and input from all sides. He was highly respected by international representatives from all over the world for his diplomatic and charming attitude, on which he contributed to solving even the most difficult tasks.
At the same time, Niels had a clear perception of what benefited the development and future of sailing. For example, in the early 1990s, Niels together with Paul Elvstrøm and a couple of other Danes, formed a strategic document based on Paul’s vision for the future of sailing as an Olympic sport, which had a decisive influence on the development of Olympic sailing.
Danish sailing was behind a number of submissions in order to modernize the Olympic Sailing program, leading to the choice of the 49er skiff, a modern catamaran with asymmetric spinnaker and double trapeze, first Tornado and now Nacra 17, and the RS:X as a new modern windsurfing discipline.
When Niels Ehrhardt wanted to finish his 20-year efforts in international sailing, he helped to ensure Danish sailing continued to influence World Sailing. It was Niels, who persuaded Kim Andersen to take over the post as Danish sailing’s new ‘foreign minister’ when he retired in the fall of 2000.
Kim continued the work in Council, Events Committee and Equipment Committee, and became elected President of World Sailing in November 2016. In this way, Niels Ehrhardt’s foresight helped to secure strong forces in the work of our global and Olympic sailing sport.
At European level, Niels helped to launch the European Union Sailing Federation in the mid-1980s. He was actively involved in European sailing until he held his last international post as President of this organization from 2000 to 2006, where all the tasks was transferred to a new European organization, European Sailing Federation involving all European MNA’s, which became affiliated to World Sailing.
Danish Sailing’s international work has strong roots in the cooperation with the Nordic and Baltic sailing federations, which form a regional group in World Sailing Council, where Niels Ehrhardt served for three periods, from 1982-1985, 1990-1993 and 1997-2000.
At a national level, Niels was chair of the Danish Sailing Federation’s Windsurfing Committee in the 1980’ies and was in the DSA General Board from 1981 to 1987 as representative of the Royal Danish Yacht Club and during the same period in the federations Executive Committee.
Niels himself was a very active sailor until his passing. He had a myriad of boats, from a 6 meter, then through 22 years a Molich 10 Meter, and at the age of 77 year’s it was replaced with a Brenta 38, a super modern carbon fiber boat with electric and hydraulic systems designed by Italian Luca Brenta, designer of a number of Wally boats. He also sailed a converted fishing boat with fireplace, a ketch, and at last 28 feet motorsailor.
Niels Ehrhardt was honored with both the Danish Sailing Federations Honorary Sign in 1988 and the World Sailing Gold Medal in 2000. In addition, Niels in 2001 was honored with the Danish Sports Con-Federation’s Honorary Award for his unique effort at international level for Danish sport
Honor to the memory of Niels Ehrhardt.
Funeral ceremony will be at Skovshoved Church, Copenhagen at 12:30 hrs on May 30, 2018.
Dan Ibsen, CEO at Royal Danish Yacht Club
(Former Secretary General at Danish Sailing Federation)