Captain Jannek Olsson: Adventures aboard 126m Octopus and working with legendary Paul Allen

The 126-metre Lürssen superyacht Octopus is now in the second year of being available for charter with Camper and Nicholsons, which gave rise to an interview with her captain, Jannek Olsson, who retold his journey to the helm of one of the most impressive superyachts in the global fleet.

Octopus was delivered in 2003 and belonged to the late American business magnate and superyacht enthusiast Paul Allen, who was the first to take a superyacht to many of the world’s farthest-flung destinations. Allen spearheaded many research projects and made a number of incredible discoveries with Octopus, and Olsson was at the helm. This is the first time Olsson has retold his story.

How did you get into yachting and what were some of the first yachts you worked on?

Having grown up sailing, spending time on sailboats from before I could walk, as well as being from a seafaring family, it may have been natural for me to decide on a sailing career. It wasn’t however before the age of 15 that I started to consider this salty path. I started a cadetship with Maersk when I was 17 and absolutely loved this new and exciting way of life. During my studies and after completing my first 12 months of seagoing cadet time on tankers and containerships, I stumbled over an article that outlined the peculiar world of superyachts. This article started it all for me, and from then on I always knew that I had to try yachting at some point in my career. Sailing yachts were the attraction still at that point and I did not see myself on motor yachts at all.

You then went on to captain the 115m Pelorus. How did this come about?

The change to Lürssen’s 115-metre Pelorus happened when Le Grand Bleu was sold. Both yachts were anchored in the Maldives and ended up in a command swap between the two vessels. It was an amusing experience to be part of a raft up at anchor between Le Grand Bleu and Pelorus off Bandos Island, while it was not technically needed, we got some great shots of these two very different but equally impressive ships. I remained in command of Pelorus until 2008 and spent two and a half years cruising the Indian Ocean and Europe, where she undertook a major refit. She is a beautiful vessel but didn’t have the same exploration capability as any of the other yachts I have had the privilege to work on.

After Pelorus you must have met Paul Allen, as you served as captain of 92m Tatoosh. How did this relationship form and how did it lead to you becoming captain of 126m Octopus?

Having the opportunity to work on Tatoosh for Paul Allen was a life-changing experience. It would be difficult to capture the significance of Paul Allen in short terms. As I think he did with many; he changed the way I think about challenges. He was such a sharp yet compassionate man to work for and I truly think he made me better at what I do, and how I approach complex challenges and the associated solutions. Amongst many other things, he taught me to never leave a stone unturned!