New Orleans sailing champion Buddy Friedrichs won a gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in the Dragon Class.
George Shelby “Buddy” Friedrichs was a sailing champion from New Orleans. He won several North American and world championships in the 1960s and a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
Friedrichs was born on February 15, 1941, in New Orleans, and attended Metairie Park Country Day school and Tulane University. He took up sailing at the age of ten at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. While a student at Tulane, Friedrichs won the L-16 Class National Championship and the International Star Class North American Championship. He was honored in 1964 with the Clifford Mallory Championship as the top sailor in the country.
Friedrichs had dreamed of one day sailing in the Olympics and in 1965 switched exclusively to dragon boats in pursuit of this goal. He won the North American Dragon Championship for three consecutive years (1965–1967). He was also the Canadian champion in 1965 and the European champion in 1966, and won the World Championship in 1966 in Copenhagen, followed by the 1967 World Championship in Toronto.
Following the 1966 Dragon Class World Championships in Denmark, Friedrichs offered King Constantine of Greece and then-Prince Juan Carlos of Spain a ride back to the harbor where their yachts were moored. As Friedrichs slid behind the wheel of his car, he quipped, “Kings in the front, princes in the back.”
During the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Friedrichs and his longtime crew members, Chick Schreck and Barton Jahncke, captured the gold medal in Dragon Class ahead of the Danish and German teams. Following his Olympic triumph, Friedrichs won his fourth Dragon North American Championship in 1970.
While he remained active in local and regional regattas, Friedrichs engaged in a successful business career as an investment banker with the firm of Howard, Weil, Labouisse, and Friedrichs. He also served on the boards of the Olympic Sailing Association, the Southern Yacht Club, and the Tulane Green Wave Club. He was a member of the Southern Yacht Club, the New York Yacht Club, and several social organizations in New Orleans. He was inducted into the the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame (1985) and the Tulane University Athletics Hall of Fame (1986).
Friedrichs died on March 19, 1991, at the age of fifty-one.