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15 March 2007, 01:19 pm
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It is with great sadness ISAF reports that Hans STEFFENSEN (DEN), a great sailor and personality in Danish sailing, has died, aged 90. For more than 15 years he was involved in the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), which became the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) in 1996.
In 1951 Hans was the driving force behind a decision in the Royal Danish Yachtclub to establish the first offshore race in Denmark, the Skaw Race, which was sailed for over 25 years. In 1954 Hans built his own 30 sq m yacht, with which he won the Skaw Race three times and took overall honours in the Gottland Round Race. He competed in the Sealand Round Race 17 times and kept the same boat for nearly 50 years. Every summer he sailed from Denmark to Hankö, Norway, the last time in 2001 at the age of 84, together with a sailing friend aged 74.

In 1965 Hans became a member of the IYRU Keelboat Technical Committee and continued this involvement until 1981, during the period 1977-1982 as Vice-Chairman of the committee. He joined the IYRU Measurement Committee from 1974-1979. Through all these years Hans was deeply involved in the IYRU work with the development of the class rules for many international classes.

During this period, designers and boatbuilders were aiming to optimize constructions in order to build quicker boats - and often ran into problems with class rules. An example of the lack of precision was the Dragon Class, where the shape of the keel was not very accurately described in the rules. Several boatbuilders, including Börge BÖRRESEN, (DEN) challenged the rules and after intense debates in the Keelboat Technical Committee, the shape of the keel was more accurately defined in the class rules.

Problems of this kind in many classes made the work of the IYRU Technical Committees very important and comprehensive during this period, but as an engineer Hans was deeply interested in those challenges during this very expansive period in sailing, when building, especially of glassfibre yachts, exploded all over the world.

After he retired from the Keelboat Technical Committee in 1981, he became involved in a small working party, with the task of considering whether the 'wing keel' could be allowed within the 12 Metre Rule. It was recognized and Australia II made history winning the seventh, last and decisive race over Liberty, to take the America's Cup away from the USA and end the longest winning streak in sporting history.

Hans also represented Scandinavia several times in the IYRU Permanent Committee and he was one of the driving forces in the work of the Scandinavian Yacht Racing Union for more than 20 years.

Alongside with his involvement in IYRU, Hans also served in Technical Committees, the Rules Committee, the Offshore Committee, the Olympic Committee, the Executive Committee and the Council of the Danish Yachting Association for nearly 20 years.

In 1966 Hans was honoured by the Royal Danish Yachtclub, and in 1984 by the Danish Yachting Association, for his outstanding contribution to Danish sailing.

Hans was a great sailor, a strong personality and a true sailing friend, who dedicated his life to the work at national, Scandinavian and international levels.

ISAF extends our sincere sympathy and condolences to Hans' family and friends.

Danish Sailing Association (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Hans STEFFENSEN:© Danish Sailing Association
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