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30 May 2012, 09:09 am
Retracing Roots - Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Sailing Competition
1984 Olympic Games Poster
1984 Olympic Games Poster

Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Sailing Competition
Los Angeles, USA

The Los Angeles and Long Beach combination that was seen in the 1932 Olympic Sailing Competition was used again at the 1984 Games as the USA hosted the Olympic Games for the third time.
Although Soviet countries refused to attend the sailing event was the biggest one seen at the time as 62 nations descended upon Long Beach to sail in seven events. And for the first time since Melbourne 1956 sailing was contiguous to the rest of the Games.

Kiwi Russell Coutts fought off terrible salt-aggravated boils to win the Finn gold from American John Bertrand.

Brazil's Torben Grael made his Olympic debut in the Soling class taking silver. By 2004, Grael had won a medal in five of his six Games, missing out in 1992 with an 11th. From 1988 onwards, he moved from the silver medal winning Soling to the Star and won a further two bronze and two gold medals.

Spain's Jose-Luis Doreste won the 470 gold yet many remember 1984 as the year when Briton Cathy Foster, crewed by Pete Newlands, won a race against an all-male fleet in an Open Olympic class, finishing seventh overall in a 28 boat competition.

Near Perfection For Home Sailors

The American team had a near faultless Olympic sailing competition as they picked up medals in all of the Olympic sailing events with three gold medals and four silver medals.

Jonathan McKee took the Flying Dutchman title with Carl Buchan his crew, whilst Buchan Snr, Bill, won the Stars with Stevie Erickson as crew. Robbie Haines, crewed by Rod Davis and Ed Trevelyn took the Soling title.

Their medal sweep had not been seen since Stockholm 1912 when hosts Sweden picked up medals in all classes. The Americans nearly did it again at Barcelona 1992 as they secured nine medals in ten events but the feat has never been done by anyone since. And with a wide distribution of talent worldwide it will take a fantastic team to do it again.

View full results from Los Angeles 1984 here.

Windsurfing Comes Into The Fray

Sailing gained a seventh event for Los Angeles 1984 in windsurfing using the new Windglider class. It proved to be an immediate success with a fleet of 38 turning out, 10 more than the already established 470 and Finn class.

With the Olympic course measuring nine nautical miles there was an emphasis on competitors strength and speed to take the top honours. And it went the way of the Netherlands Stephan van den Berg followed by America's Randall Scott Steele and Brune Kendall (NZL).

Youth Sailing Legacy

The United Airlines Olympic Youth Sailing Program provided instruction including: safety terms and precautions, boat handling and navigation techniques and introduction to competitive sailing to youths between the ages of 12-17. The program ran successfully for three summers and, in 1984, also included boardsailing instruction.

The courses were organized into five day sessions which took place at three water sites in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas. Each summer the most promising young sailors from each site who had received at least 15 hours of sailing and water safety instruction were eligible to be selected as one of 60 participants in the final regatta. The 1983 sailing competition was held on a modified Olympic Triangle Course in Long Beach, site of the 1984 Olympic Sailing competition.

The Future

An eighth event was added to the 1988 Olympic Games, and Seoul, Korea welcomed a Women's 470 division to address the low number of females sailing.

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