Magnus Olsson: Your memories of 'sailing's wonderful spirit'

Memories of Magnus, by Roger Nilson
Simon Le Bon's tribute to Magnus Olsson
Magnus Olsson: Your memories of 'sailing's wonderful spirit'
We are putting together the nicest tributes to Magnus Olsson shared by the public over the past few days. We hope you'll send us more memories of Magnus if you knew him, or your thoughts if you felt touched by one of sailing's great personalities.

If you want to share with us your story about Magnus and his legacy, post your comment at the bottom of this story or email us at Thanks. We are updating the story with the most recent comments at the top.  

Patrick Cain: Like many 'fans' on here, I've followed this race for years. In my case that's every Whitbread/Volvo leg since the summer of 1982 when Conny and Flyer reigned supreme. Many great names of offshore and round-the-cans racing have made headlines in this race since then. They came, saw, some conquered and most left. Magnus Olsson never left. From Drum onwards he not only imprinted his infectious personality on every boat and race he sailed, every drama he - sometimes literally - dived into and every photo he was in or email he penned, he devoted his life to this race. Magnus helped make sure it stayed 'The Greatest Race' as Bob Fisher called it in his book of the trail-blazing 1973-4 epic. 

I only saw Magnus Olsson close once, but I'll never forget it. It was the dock-out at Galway in 2009. He lit that pontoon up like the people's favourite that I think he was. He'd reluctantly taken over Ericsson 3 and then won that awesome Pacific leg. The Galway crowd knew it. Now setting off for Sweden on the final stages of the race, to me, at that point Magnus was it.

A tremendous character, a race legend, and a record-distance ocean leg winning skipper; genuinely Magnus was one of a kind. May the Viking smile sail forever.

Brian Sheridan, Galway Harbour Master: Magnus Olsson was a man of incredible resolve. My first encounter of Magnus was the arrival into Galway as the day was breaking. His boat Ericsson 3 and crew had an unlucky leg from Boston and were last over the line at Mutton Island. He arrived in to the harbour with his iconic beaming smile and blond hair, with his crew wearing Viking hats and saying “this wasn’t the first time the Vikings had been to Galway!”

Throughout the stopover, I would see Magnus on his bike around the harbour, avoiding the festival traffic. It was his white teeth that caught your eye first. He had even figured out the traffic light sequences and which roads to avoid in order to gain a little pace to the harbour. It was though he was always trimming out a better performance whether at sea or on a bike!

While our nation’s interest in the Green Dragon (2008-09) was without doubt, there was a growing attraction for Ericsson 3 and more so during leg 5 from Qingdao to Rio when the old salt and his young navigator took the daring decision of tacking north when all continued with bow pointed toward the Horn. It was a bold move. His navigator doing the math and Magnus the ultimate decision maker, backing him up. It was a great sight to witness Magnus and his crew beat the socks off the other teams with sheer guts and the true spirit of the Volvo Ocean Race with the arrival into Rio.

Magnus came to Galway again as the campaign to secure another stopover in Galway was underway. The time was spent teasing out how best to pull an entry together for the 2011-12 Volvo. His advice was invaluable, his stories were gripping, his resolve always sublime. He was simply a great guy.

My sincere condolences to the Olsson family. Rest in Peace Magnus.

Emil Larsson: When I was a kid I didn't have Maradona or Van Basten as my heroes, I had Magnus Olsson. Later in life I got to sail with him for a couple of months on a 60ft trimmaran. And apart from the fact that this is one of the biggest watermen we have had on this planet, he was also one of the kindest and funniest guys I have ever been around. 

As of now I'm going to be a father in July, and what echoes in my head is something Mange told me in his summer house in Halmstad where the crew of the boat was invited on a summer night. 

He said (with a grin, of course), "This stuff with kids, it's Hell, but it's the meaning of life, I love it." Rest in peace Mange.

Colm Doherty: Magnus Olsson was a real hero of my girlfriend and I, though we never met him. During the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 edition, we "met" Magnus through his wonderful on-board videos and became instantly fascinated by this extraordinary man. Whether he was exhorting the fresh-faced crew of Ericsson 3 to do press-ups on deck or giving his infamous "talk, talk, talk" ramblings on the nature of how the mind copes with long distance sailing, we were captivated.

More than that. We were inspired. Thoroughly inspired. For me, as a club racer fast approaching 50, Magnus seemed to defy the years and the odds. He symbolised how you could stay young, fit and have fun while keeping a competitive edge and an enquiring mind.

For my girlfriend, who was by then fighting cancer, Magnus was the ultimate warrior. He was battling the odds on so many levels, competing in the world's toughest ocean race with a rookie crew, on an 'old' boat. She drew strength from how he faced his challenges, to face her own with similar courage. On days when she was low, finding things really tough, she would think of Magnus, out there, battling the odds. She would re-watch those clips on YouTube. She became part of his team and he part of hers. We would all win.

When Ericsson 3 took an unlikely but glorious victory on the epic Qingdao/Rio de Janeiro leg, we celebrated at home with champagne. For me, his genius was symbolised in his willingness to delegate the key decision on that leg to young navigator Aksel Magdahl. It was a huge call by Aksel. He looked to Magnus to back him, and he did. That took courage. It was the mark of the man - beneath all the joking, he was a deadly serious competitor, chasing victory while retaining the ability to trust his crew. Many top CEOs could learn a lesson from Magnus.

By the time the fleet reached Galway, on our green little island, my girlfriend was too sick to go welcome them. I spotted Magnus and got a picture of him for her but sadly didn't get a chance to meet the great man.

Magnus Olsson was clearly a very special human being. He touched countless lives all around the world. His burning passions for sailing, people, fun and life itself, shone though all his videos and interviews. He was one of the most inspirational figures I have ever seen and his loss to the world of sailing and beyond is immense.

He rests now in that other place, Valhalla perhaps, where my late girlfriend will finally get a chance to meet her hero. They will have many laughs together, recalling their battles of 2008-09.

“We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time” Vince Lombardi. To the Last Viking! May you rest in peace. With sincere condolences to the Olsson family.

Mika Saksela: There is a saying (at least in Finnish) that the best go too early. We have now lost two immense personalities and cornerstones of the Whitbread/Volvo far too early. I did the race twice and was proud to be acquainted and even friends with these heroes of not only sailing but also of life in general. These characters made the race what it was and what it has become. Magnus's quality to make everyone feel special and the togetherness, joy and companionship he spread around him was unique and will never be surpassed.

What serves as some relief at these sorrow filled times is the thought of him and Sir Peter up (or down) there match racing Lasers for a good day and afterwards having drinks with Ayrton.

The rest of us will follow you. As always. Love, Mika.

Aileen J. Dingus: "We've lost one of the best and brightest. We've lost an incandescent smile, a heart as big as any ocean, a giant. I worked with Magnus for just a few weeks, with ASSA ABLOY, but have thought about him often over the last decade. He was just so NICE. I knew nothing about sailing when we met, and as far as my work with the team itself, I was running errands and making coffee. Magnus made me feel like I was a terribly important part of the team, that what I was doing was helping them succeed. A big hug and a kiss every time he saw me – he was the best at the world at what he did but he took the time to make a nobody landlubber feel important.

That was his gift. Beyond being a legendary sailor, he had the ability to make every single person he met feel important. It was no joke. To him, everyone WAS important. I am heartbroken, caught between being enraged at the circumstances and crawling into bed and hiding in my sadness. As I've said several times already since hearing the news, the only consolation is there is a new star in the heavens for sailors to navigate by.

Godspeed Mange. You changed my life. You will be missed. 

Hrvoje: Dear Magnus, you do not know me. But I know you even though I was not lucky enough to meet you in person. Your incredible spirit, unique personality,  the  passion you showed and above all your sincere laugh from the bottom of your heart made you an overall favorite of mine. I have never seen in my life not even a child with such an expression of endless happiness and joy. It was incredible seeing you happy, and with no second thoughts, congratulating others. You were not just a sailor – you were the kind of man that this world is missing.

I hope you will be the first whom I shall meet once I join you in eternal life. Until then I shall be thinking of you while sailing and taking from you in my everyday life. Goodbye, my friend.

Richard Aylmer-Hall: I was very lucky to have the opportunity to sail with the Charles Jourdan team on the first day of the Legends Regatta in Alicante before the start of the 2011-12 race. Magnus Olsson was one of the human "legends" invited on board and I took the chance to interview him as part of my duties filming the event for a documentary. From the moment Magnus arrived on the dock to the end of the day it was obvious that everyone who had ever come across him held him in the highest regard and wanted to spend more time with him. He was gracious and patient with me, and was clearly totally at home on the water with people who love the sea. The interview is online at:

Marisa and Raoul: Dear Mange, your laughter, tenacity and passion for the things in life that truly matter were both contagious and incredibly inspiring to us. Thank you Mange. We’ll miss you.

Roman: Magnus had such a great laugh no matter how bad the jokes. Had the pleasure of sailing with him once on the Holland 50 Midnight Sun and a 'few' drinks in pubs and yacht clubs all over the world. Way too young to be gone at this time.

Jonas: R.I.P Magnus, will never forget the days around the Gotland race with you and Neil McDonald and the rest of the team at the E/// VOR 60 - Thanks for your 24 h smiles and genuine friendship!

One Bar Playa Blanca Lanzarote: One of the kindest and sympathetic sailors ever here in the One Bar. Thanks Magnus... Please prepare the seas of the eternity with your happiness. Bye.

Tato: I am sure we will meet you in another race, starboard, starboard and you'll say, buoy room, buoy room… Bye for now Magnus.

Björn: I have never met a more positive and committed athlete. Magnus was a role model not only for his sport but for all people. RIP Magnus.

Jeff: Greatly saddened to hear of Magnus's passing. What a legend and an amazing character with always a cheerful salute, that enormous smile and some friendly banter. Sailing has lost one of its greatest characters and he'll be sadly missed. Rest in peace Magnus and if you have half the fun there that you had while you were here it'll still be fantastic! Thinking of you always brings a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit with us all. My thoughts are with your family at this sad time.

Maja: Grateful that I had a chance to meet him years ago, as he was such an inspiration to so many!! He will be missed!!

Oriana: So sad, so premature, an inspiration for all sailors, his smiling face, his passion for the ocean, he will be a champion too sailing amongst the stars. My sympathy to his family and all at the Volvo Ocean Race, who will all miss his dedicated collaboration. R.I.P. 

Peter: Magnus was a role model, not only in sailing but also in leadership and a great joy spreader. My condolences to family and friends.

Ginger: My sailing mentor… In 1984 he rescued me in Porto Cervo and we sailed to Palma on Bla Carat. We laughed forever when he said "Don't YUMP ship with your YACKETS" meaning leave the foul weather gear behind. He had so much patience and taught me so much and trusted me on stormy watches. I really don't think he ever slept when I was at the helm, just pretended. If you think of someone today, contact them… They may be gone tomorrow... My heart goes out to his family and friends.

John: We, old guard of the year 1949, rode the seas with our mate Magnus - and marvelled at his courage and wonderful humour. He was an inspiration to the younger generation and I am sure they know that... We will miss him very much!

John: Very sad. I had the great fortune to sail with the great man, shared a dinner table with him and hear him speak to a wide audience… What an awesome character, he will be sadly missed. Condolences to his family and close friends. RIP.

Richard: Had the honour of sailing with him in 2011 - what a generous spirit, who left such an impression on an entire community of sailors.

Carlo: Un grandissimo simpaticissimo marinaio ci ha lasciato, ciao Magnus…

Oscar: I will never forget the first time I met you, the charisma and the incredible energy you are radiating. I always looked up to you and you sparked my interest in sailing when we meeting during the 2001-2002 edition with Assa Abloy. You were just too young. I and my entire family mourn your death but cherish our memories with you. Rest in peace.

Chuck: Rest in peace Mr. Olsson. May your inspiration live on to support such a great sport that you pioneered.

Wilson: A great man, the most positive, caring man I have ever met! He genuinely cared about people and inspired us. Thankful for having work with you, descanse em paz meu caro amigo.

Bob: Ancient proverb: "Navigare necesse est vivere non est necesse."

Francis: Un sourire et des éclats de rire qui vont manquer.

Pierre: Gone in a gust of wind, his legend will remain forever!