27 Apr 1908
31 Oct 1908
Country of the host city
Berlin (GER), Milan (ITA), Rome (ITA)
From just 200 odd competitors in all events of the inaugural Games of 1896, London saw 2,000 passed for the first time. The first appreciation by the IOC that sailing has unique aspects too are evident at the 10th IOC Forum were it was noted that it was the only Olympic sport which cannot take place in a stadium. Still the sport was declared an "integral" part of the Games.
Like the Paris Games, the London Olympics saw yachting in two locations. The 6-metre, 7-metre and 8-metre classes raced off Ryde, Isle of Wight, and the larger 12-metres competed at Hunter's Quay, on the Clyde. As there were no overseas entries, the British Olympic Committee thought it pointless to ship boats to the Solent. And as there were no entries for the 15-metre class, racing was cancelled. In these early days, the racing demands were not onerous. The 6-metres were required to sail only three, two laps of 13 miles, starting and finishing at Ryde Pier. It was the same for 7-metres though as Capt R Sloane-Stanley's Mignonette did not start, Heroine was required to complete just one lap of two races to win.
The Fife-designed cutter Cobweb won the Eights, again with two wins, as scoring was still not done on aggregate. In 3rd place was Sorais, owned Constance Edwina Cornwallis-West, the then Duchess of Westminster. She was the first female medallist. Her role onboard is variously described as passenger or in Charles Newton-Robinson's report for the Yacht Racing Association, "the pilot".
A contemporary photograph by Kirk of Cowes shows her sitting, in a prominent wide brimmed hat, in front of the helmsman. Of course this was an era when professionals were the norm in yacht racing, though they were explicitly banned under the Olympic rules. Yacht designers were another matter: both Gilbert Laws and Alfred Mylne competed. Laws skippered Dormy and won a gold medal. Her owner, Mr T D McMeekin was awarded a silver gilt medal, the crew received silver medals whilst pewter was given to the others crews.