2005-12-04 09:29:10


In 1956 Mr Plywood's (Clark Mills) boat building company went bankrupt. Clark Mills was finally left a little house - office (22x20m) and small pension after many protests of his friends and people, who started their sailing adventure by sailing on designed by him Optimists. He died in Florida on 11th December 2001 at the age of 86. >


Bosse - Bo Österberg - was born in 1937 in Gävle, on the north of Swedish city Uppsala. He began his adventure with sailing on a river punt with square rig when he was 10.
In 1956 he begun building "Snipe"- a classical, traditional boat with  gaff rig.

Not optimistic beginnings of Optimist in Sweden.

In 1958 Bengt Juhlin, the chairman of Swedish Sailing Association, brought the first Optimist to Royal Swedish Club. Famous Swedish sailors decided that maybe it could sail somehow, but only on closed swimming pool. Despite these unfavorable opinions, Optimist class developed very much in Sweden. Currently, there are about 26000 Optimists registered in IODAand about 24000 unregistered. Bosse also had a hand in development of this class.

First meeting with Optimist

Bosse saw an Optimist for the first time in 1959. In 1962 he moved to Nynäshamn (about 40km from Stockholm). He was responsible for youth training in the local sailing club. He took care of young people sailing on OK-dingy and Finn-boats, which were the most popular for people at this age. He also wanted to cheer kids up on sailing. Optimists were ideal to do it. There were three kids sailing Optimist in 1968 (one of them was Bosse's 8-year old daughter). The following year he begun periodical trainings on Optimists. Each training lasted for 3 weeks. His Optimist-Sailing School started on 1st of May and finished on 15th of October. Up to today young people can get diplomas of graduation 1st and 2nd step sailing Optimist.

Increasing popularity.

In 1971 Bosse made a mould to produce the Optimist. He took dimensions from thebest mahogany boat . Then he was going from one club to another, showing how to build it. The interest in Optimist was increasing. In 1974 there were 5 companies building fiberglass Optimists in Sweden. Bosse was the representative of  one of them - Falset. That time he sold about 700 boats. A year after he began to cooperate with Winner, selling on average 100-200 new Optimists a year.

Laser-all my life.

In 1971 the magazine " Sailing World" published an article about a new boat- well known nowadays - Laser. Maybe now it is hard to believe , but it was designed for Finn and OK-dingy sailors as a recreational boat and the manufacturer named it "Thanks God it's Friday". Today's name appeared later and at its beginning nobody expected, that this class would become so popular. Bosse was very interested in it, especially because Laser showed good sailing  properties.
In the second week of August 1972, during the Olympic Games, the chairman of Swedish Sailing Association- Bengt Juhlin got a Laser from Canadians. In the same year's autumn  Bosse organized Swedish Laser Association (SLA) and became its secretary-  really Optimistic man. He organized I European Laser Championships in 1974, after which he became a chairman of SLA. Those days he was also involved in selling Lasers. In 1975 he sold 160 of them, making more profit than an electronic engineer in TELIA. That's why he gave up working there and started doing what he really liked. In 1976 he sold 561 Lasers and   stopped being the commodore of the club. He began to edit a magazine "Laser News"that was subscribed by 200-1800 people. The magazine had a considerable contribution into the development of this class in Sweden. There was enough money from advertising to pay costs of the Association and the representation.  For 7 first years Bosse sold on average 700 Lasers a year. He finished his work as Laser dealer as company NORDEN-LASER, selling to that time 4182 brand new Lasers.
Bosse has also taken part in regatta. His biggest result was 2nd in European Laser Great Grand Master Championships in Gotteborg in 2002.

Apart from all these, Bosse also has organised  trainings. One of  his best Lasers students is Karl Suneson (3rd in 1999, 4th in 2000, 3rd in 2002 in World Championships).
From 1992 to 2002 Bosse was the organiser of regatta called Baltic Laser Race, which takes place on Stockholm's Archipelago. The competitors have to sail 10 hours non-stop or 45 Mm. One year the winner made the whole distance in 6 hours and 45 minutes. If nobody makes the distance in time, the race committee goes from the finish line to the start line and notes the competitors. Every person taking part in this race gets 3 liters of water and 10 bananas hung around the mast. Although this race is very difficult for its competitors, especially their physical condition, there are many people interested in taking part in it (usually over 80, the fee is 500 krones). It's because the winner gets a complete new Laser. 

 Mr Laser-it's Bosse's nickname- up to today he is involved in Lasers. He designed a carbon tiller for Laser and very practical trollies for Optimist and Laser (they make packing them on trailor really easy). In the picture you can see how to install oarlocks on Laser without remakes.

Winter in Florida.

From 1983 to 2003 Bosse spent every winter in Florida. At the beginning he sold Winner's Optimists in Sarasota. Compared to Scandinavian countries, the interest in Optimists wasn't big, although this class was born there. The situation got better after promotion in 1985-87 . More and more children were sailing and the American company Vanguard started to produce very good Optimists. Then Bosse started to promote Laser. He was the first who brought RADIAL's sail to Florida (RADIAL wasn't a different class at that time). These times he also worked for companies: Lars Bergström, Windex, Keel B&R Rigging. He was designing, producing and testing fittings  and rigging to racing boats.

The invention of Optimist- the story of boxes to go down hill on the snow.

In the 80-ties Bosse met Clark Mills many times. During one of these meetings Mr Plywood (Clark Mills) told him a story about designing the Optimist. And how it often happens with inventions, it was designed by accident a little. In 1947 an American colonel-who was a high officer in  the USA  army, moved from Ohio to Florida. He wanted to help  children from impoverished families as he did it in the place he lived before. He thought, that organizing their free time, would help them to function in society in the future. He offered, as in Ohio, to build boxes to go down hill on the snow. Unfortunately in Florida were neither snow nor hills... After settlement, the colonel found out  that there was "only" water, so he asked to contact him with a person who knows how to construct boats. They pointed at Clark Mills. The officer asked him to design and make the boxes. Two months later Mr Plywood showed a prototype of Optimist. The colonel asked a few kids to sail on these "boxes". They were doing quite well, so he ordered first 20 Optimists. However there was a condition, that each of them, ready to sail, couldn't cost more than 50 USD !
 In spring 1948 the fish processing factory, where these boats were stored, was burnt.   Organizing kids' free time by sailing on Optimists was so popular in local society, therefore the local radio organized an action to collect money to rebuild these boats. The a mount of collected money was enough to build 60 new Optimists. From that time on  (1948/49), they were known in Florida. And Clark Mills, to make sailing more popular, gave for free constructional plans to build an Optimist.
In 1956 Mr Plywood's boat building company went bankrupt . That time it was very cheap to buy a complete Optimist on  sale. That's how Dannish got it and in 1956 brought it to Denmark.. Clark Mill was finally left a little house- office (22x20m) and small pension after many protests of his friends and people, who started their sailing adventure by sailing on designed by him Optimists. He died in Florida on 11th December 2001 at the age of 86.
The first meeting of Mr Laser and Mr Plywood took place in 1983 (you can see it in the picture). When Bosse  told Clark Mills that there are 150 thousands Optimists in the world, he only sighed and said: "If I only took a symbolic 1 dollar from each of these boat from royalities....".


 In 1988 Bosse came to Turkey to... find a place for winter Laser . He took two Lasers and then gave them to Marmaris sailing club. He had big troubles becouse of it and had to explain the whole situation in Turkish Ambassy in Stockholm. Turkish couldn't understand how somebody leaves such gift without any reason. They suspected him of spying. In spite of this Bosse really likes Turkey. Up to today he hasn't made a Laser School there, but  for 17 years he has spent in Turkey a part of the year..

He lives on his yacht FORTUNE. Sails: main sail-45sqm, [fok]- 55sqm, spinaker- 130 sqm were made by his son, a NORTH-SAILS manufacturer.
All of this was written down during a conversation with Bosse, sailing his FORTUNE from Marmaris to St. Nicholas Island in September 2005.

(translated by Kasia Macur)

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