Jochen Schuemann

Four-time Olympic medalist from Germany

Philippe Schiller/team Alinghi

Jochen Schuemann (b. 1954) burst on the consciousness of the American sailing public in late 2002 as the afterguard strategist and technician who made the dynamic duo of Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth nearly invincible. But any student of the Olympics, including his former competitors, already knew the superstar. "After Paul Elvstrom," says John Bertrand, "Schuemann is the greatest Olympic sailing champion ever." He won the Finn class gold medal against Bertrand, the Australian champ in 1976, but Schuemann's greatest success came in the Soling class in which he won two Olympic golds and a silver.Born in East Berlin, Schuemann learned about sailing as an 11-year-old through a "boatbuilding and sailing" class in which he helped build an Optimist dinghy. When it was time to sail the dinghy, "It didn't start too well," he says. "It was windy, and I returned to the habor because I was afraid of sinking." Despite that setback, Schuemann grew up to race Finns until 1984, when the Eastern Bloc countries boycotted the Olympics." That nearly ended my Olympic career," he says. "I was so angry." But two friends from his home yacht club-Thomas Flach and Bernd Jakel-rescued him and together created a Soling team that, starting in 1985, won a medal in the European or world championships from then onward. Schuemann's biggest disappointment was a fourth in Barcelona, when he found his team's light-air speed and match-racing skills weren't good enough, especially against Jesper Bank, of Denmark, who won the gold. Schuemann also blames his nerves: "I lost my focus and collided with Lawrie Smith and was penalized. Everything went wrong." That was the aberration for this champion of cool decision making. After rebounding for a gold in Savannah in '96, he and his teammates shook hands and retired. Schuemann went to skipper of Swiss Fast 2000 America's Cup project. When he realized how little sailing practice he would be getting, however, he started a new Soling team and nearly won another gold in 2000. By then, despite the rapid elimination of the under-funded Fast 2000 effort, he'd met Ernesto Bertarelli and Russell Coutts had talked him into another go at the Cup. Schuemann joined Team Alinghi as strategist in their 2003 America's Cup winning campaign. For 2007, he is again the sailing team director for Alinghi. Sailing World conducted an interview with Jochen Schuemann shortly after his induction into the Hall of Fame-to read, click here