Offshore racer Magnus Olsson died Saturday in Spain after he had a stroke during the week and, despite initial positive signs, deteriorated in the following days. He was 64.
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, according to an obituary in Scuttlebutt.
In the mid-1970s Olsson had just graduated from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and imagined an engineering career when Swedish sailing legend Pelle Petterson called and persuaded him to become a crewmember on the yacht Sverige in the America’s Cup. It was 1976, Olsson was 27 years old and he did not hesitate to start sailing professionally.
Olsson participated in six Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Races. He was a member of the winning crew on EF Language in 1997-98, with Paul Cayard as skipper. Olsson ranked this victory as his greatest sporting achievement.
The last time Olsson sailed the Volvo Ocean Race was in 2008-09. He was the skipper on Ericsson 3, which finished fourth. During the race Ericsson 3 won the longest leg in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race — between Qingdao in northern China and Rio de Janeiro — a distance of 12,300 nautical miles that the crew managed to sail in slightly more than 40 days.
“It’s with great sadness I received the news about Magnus passing away today,” Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad told the publication. “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.”