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2 February 2012, 10:48 am
Retracing Roots - 1900 Olympic Sailing Competition
Paris 1900 Olympic Games Poster
Paris 1900 Olympic Games Poster

Paris, France

As the ISAF London 2012 Olympic Sailing website is officially launched we take you back to where sailing's long Olympic history began...
The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 in its ancient birthplace, Athens, Greece. Sailing was planned for the programme but owing to bad weather the events were not staged.

Fast forward four years to 1900 and sailing's 112 year Olympic history began on the River Seine. Meulan, 20km away from Paris, and Le Havre, located at the mouth of the Seine welcomed the sailors to the Games of the II Olympiad.

The regatta was split in two, the smaller boats sailied from 20 - 27 May whilst the 10-20 Ton boats sailed from 1-5 August.

All competitors were required to participate in a Concourse d'Honneur on 20 May at Meuan but only seven finished inside the time limit. Two, Mamie and Carabinier were disqualified for "using other means of propulsion than sail."

The image below (taken from the 1900 Olympic Report) shows the boats that finished the Concourse d'Honneur.

The classes were determined under the Thames Tonnage Rules with the 10-20 and Over 20 Ton classes competing on the coast. In fact the big boats just had one race to determine their medal while the smaller classes on the Seine at Meulan had two separate races with medal winners in each.

This is one reason for the inconsistent results because some sources have aggregated the two races in the modern style as an overall series score.

Keeping It In The Family

Count Hermann de Pourtales of Switzerland, winner in the 1-2 Ton class, was the oldest sailor at 53. Sailing alongside him was his wife, Helene de Pourtales who, at 33, was the oldest woman in any of the 1900 Olympic sports. Helene became the first female Olympic medallist when Lerina (pictured right) crossed the line in a corrected time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 32 seconds in Race 1 of the 1-2 Ton Class.

The wife and husband sailing duo were also joined by their nephew Bernard and they added a silver medal to their collection in Race 2 after they finished behind the German boat Aschenbradel.

They said

"In common with other sports at the 1900 Games the yachting results are varied, incomplete and contradictory," concluded Ian Buchanan, president of the International Association of Olympic Historians who, with Swede Tore Widlund, ploughed through contemporary accounts in French, German and British periodicals.

"The picture that was in front is really impressive, the many amateur photographers who furnish the bank hasten to take pictures and while the public is in love with this panorama that we will not see for long in Meulan," 1900 Olympic Report.1900 Olympic Medal

The Medallists

The 10-20 and Over 20 Ton classes had just one race to determine their medal whilst those racing on Seine had two, with medals (pictured right) determined in each. This is one reason for the inconsistent results because some sources have aggregated the two races in the modern style as an overall series score. For the full results table check out the Paris 1900 Olympic section on the brand new ISAF London 2012 Olympic Sailing website.

The Future

St. Louis, USA was to host the 1904 Olympic Games, beating off Chicago with 14 of 21 IOC votes. But unfortunately, this was the second games where sailing was not present, but it was to be the last with sailing present in every games to date.

ISAF London 2012 Olympic Sailing Website

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