Successful Beauties on the High Sea and a Rain of Medals!

This is a story about two amazing Swedish brothers, who were two top designers of  several successful Olympic winners. I’m referring to the late brothers Einar and Carl-Eric Ohlson. During the 1950s and 1960s, the two brothers were the most famous and only yacht designers of the successful, international 5,5 m that won a medal at every Olympic event. The two talented brothers, Einar born 1918 and passed away in 2004 and Caerl-Eric, born in 1920 and passed away in 2015.

These two men formed an essential part in the Swedish yacht design-and sailing history.

They grew up in Hälleviksstrand, Orust, an island said to be the 4th biggest island in Sweden. Thanks to their roots in the yacht design field, that dates a couple of hundreds years back, they became introduced to the art of yacht building industry through their relatives and ancestors from Kungsviken, Orust


Einar was the talented designer and with a big mind for business, while Carl-Eric was the talented craftsman and also had the sailing  competition ability. Together these two men formed a splendid team.

Their uncle Hjalmar Johansson, also a well-known boat designer and yacht builder with shipyard operations in Kungsviken and later on at Långedrag/Gothenburg, taught the two boys at at a young age, how to build boats and as well as boat models. Already at a very young age, the brothers managed to build a small sailing canoe. During several decades they remained their uncle’s apprentices.

Einar became an engineer, employed by Götaverken, one of the world’s biggest shipyards as well as educated at Chalmers Tekniska Högskola (one of Sweden’s most prestigious colleges) in tank testing yachts and he opened his design company in 1951 which existed until 1999 when it was closed down.

In 1952 their international 5,5 m-design HOJWA succeeded to win a bronze medal with this boat class*s first participation at the newly introduced Int. 5,5m class at the Olympic in Helsinki/Finland. This success made the brothers internationally recognized. From then onwards, one of their designs managed to sail and become an OS-medal during every year from 1952 until 1968.

Since 2018, TOP The Ohlson Project, strives for a reawakening of its design work with Einar’s daughter Christina Stenberg-Ohlson as Project leader in cooperation with Lutz von Meyerinck, TOP’s initiator.

When the German owner Mr. Lutz von Meyerinck, owner of an Ohlson 38, bought his Ohlson 38, a 38-footer “Saturn” in the middle of the 1990s, he didn’t hesitate to contact the company Bröderna Ohlson AB (Ohlson Brothers AB in Gothenburg). He asked the designer Einar Ohlson for a set of plans, but was informed that no plans or documents were available for the boat. He found out that he wasn’t the only one with the same request. Meyerincks search for plans took him around half the world and finally in 2015, he out of the blue, was sent a set of blueprints of the hull drawings by an American owner,  whom he had briefly met during a trip to the US.

The overall scarcity of plans only reflected the attitude of the Bröderna Ohlson AB design office to keep cards close to their chest for fear of plagiarism.

The ship yards who were commissioned to build the Ohlson Brothers boats were prohibited to pass on any plan later, and those yards are still feeling committed even after the brothers passing.

When the Ohlson daughters went through the archives, a myriad of drawings appeared. The family decided to donate most of the drawings to a maritime museum, Bohusläns Museum in the city Uddevalla, on the Swedish west coast. Some of the drawings are still within the family.

The Swedish Maritime Museum has ongoing cooperation with the Svenska Veteranbåtsföreningen about scanning Swedish yacht design plans.

Christina, the daughter, contacted the museum in the summer of 2018 and was recommended to turn to Veteranbåtsföreningen (The Swedish  Classic Boats Association) for their valuable assistance.

At a lunch in Stockholm, October 2018, organized by the Project team with Mr. Christer Sigrand and Mr. Pierre Dunbar (Mr. Pierre Dunbar chairs the Svenska Veteranbåtsföreningen, the Swedish Classic Boats Association in Stockholm) and operating from a little office in Stockholm at beautiful Skeppsholmen, both gentlemen immediately saw the merit in doing the scanning as they shared the same values as the project team, that the drawings are part of the national maritime heritage. Their project to document the development of Swedish ship and boat design started in year 2005 and their archive today is said to be one of the largest in the world. By autumn 2020 almost all drawings of the Ohlson Brothers were included and are available on the internet both on and on www.Ohlson

There is still a lot of work to be done and it will not be finished quickly.

Veteranbåtsföreningen’ crew in Stockholm has given the worldwide sailing community access to a large part of the Swedish maritime heritage and also details of the previous century’s boat design.

TOP, The Ohlson Project has been able to identify 55 different yacht models designed by The Ohlson Brothers and built at 68 different yards in 12 countries. Their boats HOJWA has taken bronze in the Int. 5,5 m class at the Olympic 1952.

In 1956 the boat RUSH V, won a gold medal at the Olympic in Australia.

In 1960 silver at the Olympic in Naples, Italy.

In 1964 a silver medal at the Olympic in Enoshima, Japan and in the Olympic 1968 bronze in Acapulco, Mexico.

TOP, The Ohlson Project, is working on a documentary about design work of Einar and Carl-Eric Ohlson. So far 4 videos have been produced and the 5th is under production.

If you wish to find out more about those beauties of the sea, please go to

If you happen to be visiting Sweden in summer, plan a trip to Skärholmen and visit its annual Festival (exhibition) of wooden boats.

Can anything be more beautiful than the blue sea and a slender sailing yacht?

Makes me think about Rod Stewart’s song “I am sailing, I am sailing, home again, cross the sea, I’m sailing stormy waters……


About Agneta de Bekassy

Author at ScandAsia and blogger on other websites as well. Swedish influencer in Bangkok

View all posts by Agneta de Bekassy

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