Hans Fogh




Hans Fogh began his international sailing career in the late 1950s shortly after emigrating to Canada from Denmark. Fogh achieved his first significant success in international sailing when he captured a silver medal at the 1960 Olympics skippering an entry in the Flying Dutchman class. Fogh would demonstrate mastery of two distinct kinds of sailing craft over the next 25 years.

Fogh followed his Olympic success with a 1962 world championship in the Flying Dutchman category, followed by a world sailing title in 1974.

It is the second part of Fogh's sailing career that is of special interest from a sports science perspective. In the early 1970s, Fogh switched his competitive focus from the Flying Dutchman class, a relatively small dinghy (19 ft, 10 in or 6 m in length) with a crew of two, to the Soling class, a keelboat design that measures 26 ft 11 in (8 m) in length. Soling class boats require a three person crew, and the boat is equipped with sails that provide a significantly greater sail area and quite different performance characteristics than a Flying Dutchman dinghy.

Dinghies are designed with a small centerboard that is deployed to provide stability when the boat is maneuvered, particularly when the wind is blowing across the beam of the boat (perpendicular to the path of the boat). The centerboard can be raised at appropriate moments to reduce the drag of the hull on the surface of the water, an action that can permit the boat to plane across the surface. The keel on a Soling class craft is fixed in position, making the keel a constant consideration for the skipper.

While all forms of sailing engage the same basic principles of wind power and movement, whether the boat is a 10-ft (3 m) long skiff or an America's Cup yacht, each competitive class of sailboat requires specialized training and an understanding of distinct techniques if a sailor is to achieve competitive success. Fogh sufficiently mastered the Soling class to win a bronze medal in the event at the 1984 Summer Olympics. In winning the bronze medal, Fogh became the first person in Olympic history to win a medal in competitions held 24 years apart.

Fogh's longevity in Olympic competition is also confirmation that sailing is an activity that can be practiced long past the usual physiological boundaries of other sports. Fogh was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

SEE ALSO Sailing; Sailing and steering a sailboat; Sailing physics.