Louis Urvois passed away tuesday afternoon aged 75, after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease. A father of four, this polyglot and globe trotting businessman was passionate about Douarnenez, his native town. President of the Société des Régates de Douarnenez for more than 10 years, Louis Urvois managed to breathe life into the old lady founded in 1880 by, among other things, inaugurating the Challenge Cup and the Grand Prix.
The grand son of a fisherman and son of a fishmonger, Louis Urvois, after studies in HEC (High Commercial Studies) became a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Before his retirement in 1996, he was President of Estée Lauder International and General Manager of the luxury Spanish brand Loewe.
Louis Urvois loved sailing, particularly in a Dragon of which, together with Gwen Chapalain, he was one of the great champions. At the helm of his celebrated Dragon, Ar Youleg, Louis proved to thousands of sailors that Douarnenez Bay was such a superb arena.
Admired for his discretion, Louis helped and supported many young businessmen from Douarnenez and, over and above this, gave his support to the world of culture, as for example to the College of Contemporary Arts of Pont-Aven.
Today, tributes come from the whole world, praising his intelligence, his modesty, his generosity, the trust he placed in everyone, and the courage with which he fought his illness.
To those who were lucky enough to cross his path, Louis Urvois will leave an unforgettable memory, that of an exceptional man, warm and unique.
In a few weeks will begin the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez, an event which owes so much to him. Organizers, volunteers and sailors are all orphans today.
A tribute will be paid to him during the Dragon Grand Prix.
Gilles Le Doaré, President of the Société des Régates de Douarnenez (SRD):
“I was not fortunate enough to meet Louis while he was president of the SRD. Two years ago however, I was able to spend a short time with him in his beautiful home. Although he was already ill, Louis talked enthusiastically about the SRD, his life, his affection for Douarnenez and for the bay that he looked out onto. This was a remarkable and priceless visit, which touched me deeply.The succinct advice which he offered was precious, almost an invitation to follow the path he had already chosen. What I find now in the SRD is a team, united in admiration and gratitude for the benefits which the creation of the Grand Prix has brought to Douarnenez and to the SRD.The pleasure, the energy and the creativity which are involved each year in the organisation of this event constitute the finest tribute we can continue to pay to Louis Urvois”.
Christian Guyader, Guyader Gastronomie General Manager:
“I met Louis for the first time in the Spring of 2010. He had come with Gwen to persuade me to support the Grand Prix. We talked about boats, business, politics, the world, Douarnenez… life.I was beguiled by his humour, impressed by his intelligence and his simplicity, and of course he convinced me.Each time I take the helm of Ar Youleg, I recall our first meeting with emotion and affection.Avel Mad”
Jose Matoso, president of Cascais Yacht Club and vice-chairman of the Dragon Class:
“I shall never forget a long conversation I was lucky enough to have with Louis on August 27 2012 after the French Open in Douarnenez. On a beautiful day we spent a good three hours, just the two of us, sitting facing each other at the dining table in his beautiful house, which was designed by his architect daughter, overlooking Douarnenez Bay. Louis was already ill and spoke of his illness without hesitation and with the practical realism of a successful businessmen, which left a deep impression on me. But later, after having of course spoken of sailing and of Dragons, we talked about business, politics, our own life-experience and our families. It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding conversations I ever had in my life, and I often think about it. And this thanks to Louis, his personality, his culture, his knowledge and his experience.
I have this great and powerful memory of him, very clear in my mind.I am deeply saddened by his passing and I can imagine the great sorrow you will all feel in Douarnenez”.
Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen R:
"Sometime in the late nineteen nighties, a gentleman by the name of Louis Urvois, together with his friend Gwen Chapalain came to see me at Petticrows. I had already been “warned” that something was about to happen in Douarnenez by Rene Gourlouan a local Dragon sailor; but nothing prepared me for what was about to unfold. I soon found out that there were many sides to this man; enthusiasm, focus, energy, intelligence but what really touched me was his kindness and thoughtfulness for others. His priority, he told me at our first meeting, was to revive the Dragon fleet in Douarnenez and how should we achieve this? Many hours of discussion followed over the years, but suffice to say he reached his goal; many of us have enjoyed wonderful races over the years in Douarnenez as a result of his and Gwen’s actions.
For only a short time, he was Vice-Chairman of the IDA; leaving to support his wife Kersti in her business venture. He was an exceptional human being, and has touched many lives. On Easter Sunday we received a mail from Louis in typical fashion; no drama, stating the facts and telling us to enjoy every day of our lives to the full. A final gift from a great man!"
“The Grand Prix Guyader is now an orphan. Louis Urvois just left us and our sadness is immense.Louis embodied a positive vision of the world and of mankind. He granted his trust, gave us the energy and the freedom to face challenges, with kindness and friendship.
I met him 20 years ago and thanks to him and with him, we created the Grand Prix in Douarnenez.
Louis was deeply attached to Douarnenez, his native town; he wanted to share its development and believed in its maritime potential. He loved its bay and its lights, which he helped all his Dragon friends discover; they who also lose a key figure of their “family”.Louis taught us – taught me – so much, gave so much. Without him, my life would obviously have been different. He gave me wings, and I shall do my utmost to preserve this legacy which has passed to me.
My thoughts go to his family, Kersti , Tania, Claudia, petit Louis, Yves and his grandchildren”.
Société des Régates de Douarnenez
Maison du Nautisme - 59 quai de l'Yser
29100 Douarnenez - France
Tél. : + 33 (0)2 98 74 36 84
News and Information posted by the IDA only.
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