Pelle Petterson, the man behind PelleP brand © Photo by Brian Carlin/AWMRT
Marstrand, Sweden (5th July 2013): When it comes to match racing in Sweden, the icon is Pelle Pettersen. Sailor, skipper, yacht designer, the man who is famously the ‘P’ in the classic 1960s ‘P1800’ Volvo, as used in the TV series The Saint, Pettersen, 80, is certainly the stand-out figure of his generation and arguably Sweden’s most famous yachtsman alongside Volvo Ocean Race veterans Magnus Olsson and Roger Nilson.
Pettersen skippered the Swedish challenges in the 1977 and 1980 America’s Cups. During this period he also competed in numerous match racing events around the world, during which time he scored victories at the Liberty Cup in New York and another in Singapore.
“I think I did six Congressional Cups and about six Liberty Cup races and also events in France, England, Germany, Annapolis, etc – in fact, all over the place in those days,” recalls Pettersen, who was in Marstrand yesterday to take part in Stena Match Cup Sweden’s celebrity race alongside Swedish television stars, artists, writers, musicians and athletes. “I kept doing that as practice for the America’s Cup.”
Pettersen’s sailing career certainly helped spawn subsequent generations of Swedish match racers, notably Magnus Holmberg, best known for his role as skipper and helmsman of the most recent Swedish America’s Cup campaign, Victory Challenge. At Stena Match Cup Sweden, the sole Swedish event of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, the host nation continues to have strong representation with the two Tour Card holders this year being Swedish - Johnie Berntsson and his Stena Sailing Team and Bjorn Hansen’s eWork Sailing Team. They were joined this week in Marstrand by Henrik Eyerman. In fact Sweden and New Zealand are the only countries to have two representatives among the eight Tour Card holders this season.
With the origins of Stena Match Cup Sweden dating back 13 years, Pettersen’s career as a match racing skipper ended well before this event was established, but nonetheless he says he has attended every one of them. Marstrand, the paradise resort island on Sweden’s west coast where the event is held, is only an hour’s drive north from his home near Gothenburg.
However Pettersen has been involved on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour in other ways.
To the general public Pettersen may be remembered for designing Volvo’s most iconic sports car. He says he regrets not having spent more time in this industry. “That is the thing I should have been working on all my life – designing cars. But then boats came along and I enjoyed sailing so much that I tried to make a business out of sailing...”
But he also has a strong background as a yacht design. In the past he has designed the SM40, which during the mid-2000s was gearing up to be the Match Racing Tour’s one design, but today is only in use at events in Portugal and Brazil. As a yacht designer Pettersen is still today involved with Maxi Yachts, the Swedish builder of two models, 40 and 42ft long, both of which he penned.
Today Pelle Pettersen is better known for the Pelle P clothing range. “That is the most amusing/successful part,” he says with a smile. “It is my daughter Cecilia who runs that company. I have very little to do with it, but I try to be helpful. She is doing all the design work. I am the test pilot/the model!”
Pelle P is the Official Clothing Partner of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The Swedish company creates and sells both technical sailing clothes as well as casual wear and also has a ski/winter collection.