Norwegian Olympic rower Nils Jakob Hoff, a medical student at the University of Bergen, has won World Rowing’s 2016 Filippi Spirit Award. This award is for university rowers who demonstrate the core values of rowing. Hoff has won the award ahead of the biggest number of high calibre nominations in the four-year history of the award.

Hoff started rowing as a 14-year-old and 14 years later he became a World Champion in the men’s double sculls. He is famous for striking a Viking pose after crossing the finish line at the 2013 World Rowing Championships. But Hoff’s story goes much deeper than his successful international career.


As a child Hoff was not involved in sport, spending most of his time playing music. Having suffered from bullying in his teenage years for being overweight he took up rowing as he heard it was a good way to lose weight. His affinity with the sport was soon obvious and Hoff made the Norwegian junior national team.

Hoff then began juggling elite rowing with medical studies. He was disappointed to find the University of Bergen in Norway was without a rowing club. Hoff and a fellow student founded the Medical Rowing Club, Bergen with the goal of sharing the values of rowing with their fellow students. The club now has more than 60 active rowers, with more than half of them being women. Hoff has become a role model for kids struggling with weight issues and his teammates say that he is an inspiration for all of those around him.

As he continued through his university studies, Hoff made two Olympic rowing teams – the London 2012 Olympic Games and Rio 2016.

“We had an extremely difficult time this year to pick the Filippi Spirit Award winner,” says FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland. “The standard and quality of the nominated candidates had the judges strongly debating who would win. Nils just had that something extra. His story on and off the water is exceptional and inspiring.”

The Filippi Spirit Award is open to university rowers worldwide who demonstrate the core values of rowing in his/her social, academic and sporting life and, through those values enable or inspire exceptional success in other people’s lives – for example in education, business, sports or charity. Rowing’s core values are: Teamwork, Fairness, Natural, Inclusive and Enduring.

Nils Jakob Hoff Wins FILIPPI SPIRIT AWARD  Photo credit: FISA
Photo credit: FISA

The winner’s university rowing club will receive a custom-built, top-of-the-range Filippi eight racing shell. The boat recognises the winner’s involvement in the club and helps the club to develop more young rowers in the future.

This is the fourth year of the Award, and the first edition with title sponsor, Filippi. Previous winners include James Cook (GBR) in 2013, Franz Gravenhorst (GER) in 2014, and Kirsten van Fossen (USA) in 2015.

Filippi Lido S.R.L. (also known as Filippi Boats) is a rowing racing boat manufacturer based in Donorotico, Italy. Since 1980 Filippi has produced top Olympic-class rowing boats. They are renowned for design, top-quality materials and state-of-the-art technology combined with passion and core values that underpin their work


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