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16 May 2012, 04:12 pm
Retracing Roots - Montreal 1976 Olympic Sailing Competition
Montreal 1976 Olympic Poster
Montreal 1976 Olympic Poster

Montreal 1976 Olympic Sailing Competition
Montreal, Canada

The terrorist murder of nine of Israeli athletes at Munich meant that the Montreal Games were held under the tightest security. Sailing took place in another Canadian province, Ontario instead of Quebec, at Kingston.
In a bid to modernise Olympic sailing, two venerable keelboats were dropped, the Star and Dragon. In their places a modern, glassfibre, trapezing dinghy in the shape of the 470 designed by Frenchman Andre Cornu, and a multihull with the Tornado class.

This was created by Briton Rodney March, assisted by Reg White and Terry Pearce, and won the IYRU trials for an Olympic catamaran. Like Rikard Sarby had done with the Finn, White, already a winner of the Little America's Cup, blended his intimate knowledge of the class with his ability to win the first gold medal with a race in hand, crewed by his brother-in-law John Osborn.

The first 470 winner was West German Frank Hubner. Plenty of interest was focussed on Rodney Pattisson and Valentin Mankin, gunning for a third gold on the trot in the FD and Tempest classes. It was not be. They won silver. Pattisson was bettered by West German Diesch brothers, Jorg and Ekhart, and Mankin by Swede John Albrechtson. In fact, Pattisson held on the silver by just 0.4pt. East Germany was among the medals with Jochen Schumann winning the Finn class gold, on his way into the Pantheon of medallists, eventually matching Mankin's three gold and a silver, after moving to the Soling class.

Schumann had never won a major Finn event before the Games but a sports-science student, he used an early VMG (speed made good to windward) indicator to develop his sails, settings, tune and steering. A rudimentary recording device and basic computer had allowed post-test analysis.

Montreal 1976 Leaves A Burning Impression

Alan Warren and David Hunt's Tempest, Gift Horse, had a rough old ride over to Montreal for the Olympics which resulted in some bad damage.

'The 'Orse', as it became known, had gone a bit lame and the former World and European champions finished 14th in Montreal. Instead of sailing The 'Orse back to shore after the final race the pair concealed a container of acetone in a buoyancy tank and with a bit of a helding hand from a Belgian sailor, who leant them a light, The Orse was set alight.

The pair stepped off and let the old 'Orse burn, giving her the fitting end the pair intended.

The Future

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 several countries boycotted the Moscow 1980 Olympics and in the sailing competition noticeable absentees were USA, Japan, West Germany, Australia, Britain, Canada and France.

Competitor numbers dropped with only 83 boats going for gold across the six classes.
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