What a treat it was to attend the annual Yachtsman's Spring Thaw Luncheon on Friday April 23 at the Boulevard Club. The Port Credit Yacht Club was well represented with Commodore Peter Howells, Vice Commodore Fleet Don French and a dozen other members in attendance. The highlight of the luncheon is always the honouring of three members of the boating fraternity – this year the Environmental Award was presented to Geoff Hadrill of National Yacht Club, the Yachtsman of the Year for Power to Find Christiansen, founder of Bronte Harbour Marina, and most exciting – the Yachtsman of the Year for Sail to PCYC's own Hans Fogh! Hans is the patriarch of one of the three generation families at PCYC, with sons Morton and Thomas also being members and Grandson Marcus making his mark as an up and coming Optimist sailor in the PCYC Learn to Sail program.
Hans Fogh is one of the most successful competitive sailors in history and has competed in more Olympics than any other athlete in the world. The list of his sailing accomplishments is long and spreads across five decades. He is still a competitive participant, winning silver at the North American Soling Championships. He is also a mighty competitor around the buoys in local club races where he campaigns a Hanse 40, a range of boats he proudly distributes in Canada. (Watch for Hans on Wednesday nights at PCYC).
His childhood was firmly rooted in the soil of his native Denmark, but his destiny lay on the surface of the sea and the Great Lakes. He started his career apprenticed to the family greenhouse and gardening business for five years, spending his summers at the family's seashore cottage.
It was there that he fell in love with the sea and discovered the joys of sailing and bought his first boat when he was just seventeen. Two years later he claimed what was to be the first of a lifetime of winning flags, world championship trophies, and Olympic Medals. Switching careers joined Paul Elvstrom and learned the intricacies of sailing and the art of sail making; he excelled in both life paths.
The Canadian sailing world rejoiced when Hans immigrated with his family to Canada in 1969 and set up a new sail-making loft that became North Sails Fogh Ltd. He designed and built the original "Laser" sail, single-handedly establishing Canada as a supplier of yachting equipment.
Known as one of the finest yachtsman of his era, he has won more titles than any other Canadian sailor. Becoming a citizen by choice in 1975 made him eligible to compete as a Canadian. He has been on seven Olympic teams, and is the only sailor in the world to excel in three of the seven classes of Olympic Yachting. The 24-year span between his first and second Olympic medals still stands as a record that may never be broken.
In 1985 Hans Fogh was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the only sailor to have ever achieved that honour. Today we can all salute a fellow sailor as one of our own and enjoy the full knowledge that his sailing career is far from over.
The beautiful Yachtsman of the Year for Sail trophy will be proudly displayed for a year in the PCYC front foyer. Next time you visit PCYC, take a moment to read about the other recipients and congratulate Hans on this well deserved honour.