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6 June 2012, 01:01 pm
Retracing Roots - Seoul 1988 Olympic Sailing Competition
1988 Olympic Logo
1988 Olympic Logo

Seoul 1988 Olympic Sailing Competition
Seoul, Korea

Until the country was awarded the Games in 1981, recreational sailing really hadn't taken root in South Korea and the Korea Yachting Association existed in name only.
The competition took place in Busan, South Korea;s second city after the capital and host Seoul, and the countries major port. Large numbers flocked to Korea as 360 sailors in 214 teams from 60 nations flew their flag on the water from September 20-27 1988,

With little data and questions posed on the tide in the area there were a few surprises that sprung up including Great Britain's gold in the Star class that was won by Mike McIntyre and Bryn Vaile. The pair split from the fleet looking for turning tide to win the last race. It was their second win of the series and handed them a surprise gold medal.

Spain's Luis Doreste won gold in the Finn ahead of US Virgin Island Peter Holmberg and Kiwi John Cutler.

France had won one gold medal since 1932 - Serge Maury's Finn gold in 1972 - until Thierry Peponnet burst onto the scene and having won the bronze in the 470 class in Los Angeles, together with crew Luc Pilot, Peponnet got the gold in Busan.

Brazil celebrated for not only did Torben Grael gain the bronze in the Star, but brother Lars got the same medal in the Tornado class.

Larry Lemieux Awarded Pierre de Coubertin Medal

Canada's Larry Lemieux is the only sailor, and one of 11 athletes, that have been awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal which is awarded to athletes who demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship at the Olympic Games.

And Lemiuex put his own medal aspirations to one side on September 24 1988 when 10-15 knots turned into winds in excess of 35 knots. In a comfortable position and on his way to silver medal in the Finn the Canadian passed Singapore's 470 entry Shaw Her Siew and Joseph Chan who had capsized. Siew was clinging to the hull whilst Chan was 20 metres from the boat.

Without hesitation Lemieux turned his boat and dragged Chan aboard who was too badly hurt to climb aboard. He then in turn rescued Siew, held his boat against the wind and waited for the Korean Navy boat to arrive.

He then resumed, finished 21st in a 32 boat fleet sacrificing his own medal hopes. Nonetheless his heroics were rewarded and at the award ceremony, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Saramanch said, "By your sportsmanship, self-sacrifice, and courage you embody all that is right with the Olympic ideal."

Women's Class

With a low number of women sailing at the Olympic Games the IYRU (which became ISAF in 1996) introduced an eighth event, the women's two person dinghy. The 470 was the chosen equipment and 21 nations featured highlighting 42 of the world's best female sailors.

The first Women's 470 medals went to America as Allison Jolly and Lisa Jewel (pictured right) took the top honours followed by Sweden's Marit Soderstrom and Birgitta Bengtsson and USSR's Larisa Moskalenko and Irina Shunikhovskaya.

Elvstrom Bows Out

Denmark's Paul Elvstrom bowed out of the Olympic Games in 1988 having won four gold medals in eight Olympic Games he competed in.

He remains the most successful Olympic sailor in the sport and the person whose name is most often mentioned when the best sailors in the world are asked to name their heroes. He is a person who is held in the highest regard as a sportsman, a man of integrity and a man of great skill.

Schuemann And Bank Contest Begins

Two of the all-time greats in the Soling class, Jochen Schuemann (from what was still East Germany) and Dane Jesper Bank sandwiched American silver medallist John Kostecki. The Schuemann versus Bank contest was to run all the through to the final leg of the final race of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney after which the Soling was dropped. By then, Bank had added the 1996 and 2000 gold to his bronze and Schumann a further gold and silver.

The Future

The Olympic Games headed to Barcelona in 1992 as organizers worked hard to increase spectator involvement. A vast marina was built allowing spectators to view from platforms and the breakwater. And it was the host nations ideal regatta as they took four gold medals and one silver in ten of the events on show.
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