He has won the world championships 13 times in eight different types of boat, including Soling, Starboat, Flying Dutchman and Finn.
He competed in nine Olympic Games from 1948 to 1988, being one of only three persons ever (the others are athletes Carl Lewis in the long jump and Al Oerter in the discus) to win four consecutive gold medals ('48, '52, '56, '60), first time in a Firefly, subsequently in Finns.
Elvstrøm has also made a name of himself as developer of sails and sailing equipment and built boats, e.g. the Trapeze. He has also been the father of several international yacht racing rules.
In 1996 he was chosen as "Danish Sportsman of the Century."