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Johan Friele

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohan Mohr•Friele
Used nameJohan•Friele
Born29 November 1866 in Bergen (NOR)
Died1 October 1927 in Bergen (NOR)
AffiliationsBergens Seilforening, Bergen (NOR)
NOC Norway


Dr. Johan Friele was a renowned surgeon and gynecologist. His first assignment after graduation was as a resident and fisheries doctor on the Lofoten Islands. In 1884, he returned to Bergen and served as general physician, surgeon and gynecologist at Bergen Private Clinic and later the Red Cross Clinic. As a doctor, he was highly appreciated for his helpfulness towards the poor. He was also active as a local politician and chairman of the sailing association.

Friele was a prominent sailor even prior to World War I. His first experiences, however, came in rowing, where he won 13 first prizes in local races and was known for his stamina. He joined the Bergen Seilbaadforening in 1889. During the first years he took part in local regattas as a member of the crew or in boats borrowed from other members.

Friele bought his first boat in 1898 and named it Skum. With this boat, he competed internationally, sailing to the venues even in bad weather. In 1904, he won his first international races off Göteborg, Sweden. He purchased the Skum II in 1908, a technically up-to-date boat constructed by Johan Anker. With the new boat, he took first prize at the first regatta in Bergen in 1909. He then sailed to Kiel and København (Copenhagen), again winning several first places in the 10 m class. Even though he remained at the top level in Scandinavia with this boat, technical progress demanded further developments in construction.

In 1914 Friele had a new 12 m yacht built for him named Skum III, designed by Charles Nicholson and again constructed by Anker. This boat, however never met expectations. World War I broke out and competitions were limited to Scandinavia, which was not involved. Because he was not successful even regionally, Friele sold the boat after only two years. With Skum IV and Skum V, both older boats he continued to compete successfully on a regional level. In 1919 Friele started preparing for the Antwerpen Olympics as helmsman on Olaf Ørvig’s 12 m yacht Heira II. After the Olympics Friele confined himself to tour sailing and founded the KNS Turseilingspokalen in 1922. The jury gave the first cup to Friele himself. His entire sailing career spanned a period of more than 30 years until Skum V was sold in 1924.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Sailing NOR Johan Friele
12 metres, Open (Olympic) Heira II 1 Gold