17 Jul 1976
01 Aug 1976
Country of the host city
Los Angeles (USA) and Moscow (USSR)
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. Though they didn't know it at the time the paths of Australian John Bertrand, bronze in the Finn, and Dennis Conner, bronze in the Tempest, were later to become inexorably linked in the historic 1983 America's Cup; their form in Olympic classes, a passport to helming a 12-metre. The burning impression of 1976 was made by Britain's Tempest crew Alan Warren and David Hunt.
With an undertaker's sense of humour - for this was Warren's profession - the pair concealed a container of acetone in a buoyancy tank in the last race. At day's end, having declared Gift 'orse (their Tempest that had been damaged in transit) no longer competitive, the pair lit a flare, stepped off and let the Tempest burn. "She went lame and we had to put her down," said a deadpan Warren.