Olsson's first taste of The Whitbread came when he joined rock star Simon Le Bon onboard Drum in 1985-86 and he became involved with the Race for the rest of his life.
He went on to sail onboard The Card in 1989-90 and Intrum Justitia in 1993-94 before enjoying overall victory with EF Language in 1997-98. He followed that with second place on Assa Abloy in 2001-02 before skippering Ericsson 3 in 2008-09 – his sixth and final appearance and the only time he was to skipper a boat.
In 2011, he accepted a role as Legends Ambassador, an honour that meant the world to him, before taking a role as a coach with the all-female Team SCA, helping to break down barriers right up to his death, aged 64.
Olsson played an influential role in the Race's evolution from a Corinthian adventure through to a fully professional competition. “It’s changed a lot from the early days when you went on an adventure and you didn’t care too much about the result," he remarked at the time of the Legends Regatta in Alicante in 2011.
There have been few characters in the sport as engaging as Olsson. Olsson circumnavigated the globe five times before he finally found himself in charge of his own crew, something he always said he never wanted.
In the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, he and his inexperienced Ericsson 3 crew survived a near sinking on leg four and only arrived in China on the day the rest of the fleet began the next leg to Rio de Janeiro.
Olsson and his team had just over an hour to load 40 days’ worth of food and set sail again, chasing the teams that had left seven hours earlier. They were quickly back in contention and a brilliant tactical decision by Olsson’s young navigator, Aksel Magdahl swept them into the lead.
"It’s unbelievable," Olsson said at the finish, where his ecstatic celebrations, arms raised and thumbs up, provided an iconic image of the race. Iconic – that’s a word that sums up Olsson's status with the Volvo Ocean Race just as well.