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Olympic Games 1984
Olympic Games 1984

LocationLos Angeles

Olympic Games 1984

Articles and Pictures 

The best prepared team every

A Long Way to the top - 1984 Olympics

From Australia's Year of Sails edited by Sandy Peacock (1983/4)

Photographs by:

Carlo Borlenghi, Francois Richard, Koran Evans and Peter Campbell

Take 300 sailors, 174 competing boats from 62 countries, 200 official boats, more than 1200 officials ashore and afloat, and a tent city on the seafront of downtown Long Beach. . . and you have the basic ingredients of the yachting regatta of the 1984 Olympics. Add to this superb summer weather, tricky sea breezes and unrelentingly close competition on the water and you have a memorable week of sailing.

For most of the competitors the preparation for these Olympics had begun at least two years earlier; this was certainly true of the Australians, Americans, British, West Germans, French and Italians. ln many cases the crews had been campaigning towards Long Beach for up to four years.

Most of the crews begun arriving here two weeks before the Games, adjusting themselves to the Southern Californian summer heat and carrying out their final rig and sail tuning. Among the first arrivals were the Australians, after an intensive pre-Games campaign in Europe for all except the Soling crew, who had elected to bring their boat to Long Beach a month earlier instead of going to Europe. lt was without doubt one of the strongest and certainly the best prepared Australian teams ever to contest an Olympic regatta.

lt was also team comprised largely of faces new to the Olympic scene, like Sydney's Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson in the Tornados - considered Australia's best prospects for a medal and given a reasonably strong chance of picking up the gold. Gary Sheard's Soling crew from Melbourne were newcomers too, although Sheard had been John Bertrand's for'ard hand when they won the Olympic trials in the Solings in 1 980. Jamie Wilmot and James Cook - from Sydney - were the Flying Dutchman crew, Australia II 's mainsheet trimmer Colin Beashel and his crew Richard Coxon (also from Sydney) were sailing the Star, and the 470 representatives were Adelaide's Chris Tillett and Richard Lumb. The singlehanders were Adelaide Finn sailor Chris Pratt and Sydney's Greg Hyde on the Windglider.

The reserves and back-up team that went to Long Beach for the final pre-Games tuning, sailing as training partners, proved to be a group almost as good as the chosen Australian team. Great credit has to go to this support group for the way they worked up the team crews... the sailors who in most cases had only narrowly beaten them back at the selection trials in Adelaide earlier in the year. lt was interesting to note that the back-up team included four former Olympians and two former world champions.

Australia's Boxing Kangaroo flag stole the scene at the official opening of the yachting regatta. Soling skipper Gary Sheard hoisted the flag from the mast of his Soling, which was parked just behind the main assembly area, after the teams had marched in.

lt was a colorful scene, with Gary Sheard carrying the flag for the Australian team. Blonde Trine Elvstrom (21) carried the Danish flag while her father Paul, the king of yachting, marched behind.

Another young flag carrier, and probably the youngest yachting competitor, was 15 year old Tony Philp from Fiji. Tony sailed in the Windglider class while his father, Tony Snr. skippered the Tornado for Fiji - the country's first yachting team at the Olympics since they sent a Finn sailor to Melbourne in 1956.

Next day it was serious business, certainly for the 1200 organisers, the 70 coast guard boats on security patrol and the other 130 support craft. This was the practice race, a chance for competitors to flex their muscles against their competitors on the race course. Only half the competitors bothered to finish the race but it was a morale-boosting exercise for the Australians, with all seven crews showing they were on the pace going into race one of the Olympics.

The first race of the Olympic yachting regatta began in perfect sailing conditions but ended with 1 5 protests and the disqualification of two race winners. Nor was it a great day for the Australians, who failed to gain a place in any of the seven classes. But they pointed to definite gold medal chances in the Tornado, Soling and Star classes, with medal prospects in the Finn and Windglider classes.

A Long Way to the top - Day 1 

Wall-to-wall Tornados as the Olympic fleet takes off from the starting line
NZ's gold medallist Rex Sellers drives his tornedo clear of the pack

The first race of the Olympic yachting regatta began in perfect sailing conditions but ended with 15 protests and the disqualification of two race winners. Nor was it a great day for the Australians, who failed to gain a place in any of the seven classes. But they pointed to definite gold medal chances in the Tornado, Soling and Star classes, with medal prospects in the Finn and Windglider classes.

For the Americans, many sailing on their home waters off Long Beach, it was a good day with four wins and a second - but one of these firsts was lost when Californian John Bertrand (no relation to Australia II skipper John Bertrand) was disqualified from the Finn class.

lt was an ironic result for Bertrand, who had trained in Australia last summer in his bid for Olympic selection after two years of involvement in six-metres and then 1 2-metres. His selection came only two days before the opening ceremony after two months of protests, appeals, court litigation and finally a hearing before an independent arbitrator. lt began after the original winner of the US trials last May was disqualified for unfair sailing against Bertrand in the final race. Although Bertrand still did not place first, he sought redress, received it and made the US team. But it went back and forth with Bertrand in, Silvestri out, then the opposite in a confrontation between the US Yacht Racing Union and the US Olympic Committee - with the USYRU backing Bertrand. Despite his absence from competitive sailing and training Bertrand sailed a fine race but was disqualified on a simple port and starboard incident, soon after the start, with the New Zealander Russell Coutts, who finished second.

ln the Windglider class the first placegetter, France's Gildas Guillerot, was disqualified for "pumping", as was the Brifish sailor David Hackford. The jury themselves lodged the protests. Australians Chris Tillett and Richard Lumb from Adelaide were disqualified after finishing 1 5th in the 470 class, because of a collision with a Mexican boat rounding the leeward mark.

The best result of the day for the Australians came with a fourth by Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson in the Tornado class. Unfortunately, the Australian crew went too far to the let of the right-hand- favored first weather leg, and in this speed race could not catch the first three boats. New Zealander, Rex Sellers, led early but was overtaken halfway through the race by American Randy Smyth, who dashed away to a 20-boat-length victory over Robert White from Britain and the New Zealand boat.

Australia's Gary Sheard, Tim Dorning and Dean Gordon were quite happy with their fifth in the Soling class after a poor start, the winner being the US world champion Robbie Haines, from Britain's Chris Law, and the Brazilian boat skippered by Torben Grael.

Young Adelaide sailor Chris Pratt sailed a sound race in the Finns to be seventh while in the Windglider class Greg Hyde finished eighth. Hyde was third early but was overpowered as the seabreeze freshened to over 20 knots. The winner of the Windgliders was the German Dirk Myer from NZs Bruce Kendall.

Veteran American, Bill Buchan, won the Star class and the Australians Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon were forced to retire after running into the stern of the Swedish boat. They had been in third place halfway through the race. Meanwhile Jamie Wilmot and James Cook had a mediocre race in the Flying Dutchman class to finish 12th.

A Long Way to the top - Day 2

Power sailing in the Stars as the champion helmsman Hubert Raudaschl edges his boat out from a Windward cover.

Day two brought improved placings for most of the Australians but a disastrous race for gold medal hopes Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson. ln fact it was a day of upsets in unusually shifty light winds off Long Beach, which had many top competitors in trouble.

Not one of the first race winners won again; they didn't even gain a place in the second race. What was obvious, however, was the depth of talent in all the fleets, particularly the Tornado, Soling and 470 classes, with the Windglider results very much influenced by the strength of the breeze.

Australia gained two thirds and a fourth. Gary Sheard skippered the Soling to an impressive third following his fifth in the first race, while Colin Beashel, after retiring from race one, also notched up a third. The fourth place went to Chris Pratt in the Finns.

ln the Solings, Sheard got away to a much better start and was in third place throughout the race, at one stage getting within 20 seconds of the leader, Norway's Dag Halfdan Usterud. The Norwegians went on to win by one minute from the ltalian Gianluca Lamaro, who beat Sheard by 20 seconds. First race winner, US world champion Robbie Haines, got forced too far to the left on the first work and finished ninth. After two races the Italians led the point score with 14.7 points from the Americans on 15 and Sheard on 15 .7.

ln the Stars, Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon finished a close third to the consistent Greek crew, llias Hatzipavlis and Leonidas Pelekanakis, and the Swedes, Kent Carlson and Henrik Evermann.

But after their retirement in race one the Australians were still well down the points table. First race winner Bill Buchan (US) could do no better than ninth in the light winds. The Greek crew led the point score with 3 points, the Swedes were next with l 1 points, followed by Buchan on 1 5. The Australians were lying ninth with 31 .7 points.

Chris Pratt continued to show his ability in the Finn class with a fourth behind Brazil's Jorge Zarif Neto, a surprise winner from Canada's Terry Neilson and the Greek sailor, Armando Ortolano.

America's John Bertrand, disqualified from his first race win, was fifth. The Canadian was now leading the pointscore with 6 points from two seconds. NZs Russell Coutts, the first race winner, was sixth in race two to be second on points with 1 3, while Chris Pratt was next with 21 points from a seventh and a fourth.

The real upsets of the day came in the Tornado class. Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson got a fine start and had sailed furthest to the right-hand side of the course, the normally favored side, when the wind flicked back sharply to the left. They were left so far down the track that they could do no better than 16th in the 20-boat fleet.

Their only compensation was the retirement of their main gold medal opponents, Americans Randy Smyth and Jay Glaser, who hit the Dutch boat midway through the race when they were lying seventh.

The race went to the Frenchmen Yves Loday and Bernard Pichery, who had been disqualified from race one. The fast New Zealander Rex Sellers was second and Denmark's Paul Elvstroem and his daughter Trine finished third. lt was a great effort by Elvstroem, who has won four Olympic gold medals in singlehanded classes, starting at the London Games in 1948.

After two races New Zealand led the pointscore with 8.7 points from Britain's Robert White and David Campbell-James on 13, followed by the Elvstroems on 17.4. The Americans Smyth and Glaser were 7th with 27 points, the Australians 9th with 30 points.

Australia's other results in race two were again disappointing. Jamie Wilmot and James Cook were again 14th in the Flying Dutchman, while Greg Hyde got the wrong side of the wind in the light weather Windglider race. He finished 1 3th after picking up places over the final three legs. The winner was another surprise, American Scott Steele, with the Dutch world champion Stephan Van Der Berg second and NZ's Bruce Kendall third. Kendall headed the pointscore after two races with 8.7 points from the Dutchman on 11.

ln the 470 class, Chris Tillett and Richard Lumb, after being disqualified from their 15th in race one, improved a little to finish 11th but were still low down on the points table.

A Long Way to the top - Race 3

Colin Beashel lines up his Star for the Windward mark

The light winds continued for the third race and again the results were pretty average for the Australian team. The most encouraging result was a third place in the Tornado class by Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson, certainly a vast improvement on their 10th the previous day. This time they got a good start, sailed across to the right early and paced it around the track with New Zealanders Rex Sellers and Chris Timms and the British crew, Robert White and David Campbell-James. (Robert is the son of Reg White, winner of the gold medal at Montreal in 1 976).

The third place also brought the Australians up to fourth position in the pointscore on 35.7 points, but still well behind the New Zealanders who, with placings of 3-2-1, were on 8.7 points. The British were next with 1 6 points followed by Paul and Trine Elvstroem on 27.4, Bermuda's Alan Burland and Chris Nash on 33.7 and then the Australians.

The Australian crews continued to sail consistently in the Soling and Star class although Gary Sheard was still being too conservative in his starts. He was back in 12th place at the first weather mark in this race but picked up placings on each subsequent windward leg to finish fifth. Canadian Hans Fogh led all the way to win from the Brazilian Torben Grael and Robbie l-laines, who just beat the Greek boat on the line. lt was a fine win by Fogh, the former protege of Paul Elvstroem and winner of a silver medal for Denmark in the Flying Dutchman, now a Canadian resident for 1 5 years. After three races Fogh held a narrow overall lead of 19.7 points to 20.7 points for Haines, each with one win each. Then came the Greeks with 21.7 and the Australians on 25.7.

ln the Stars, Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon got another fine start and were up in third place for most of the race, just beating the Germans around the weather mark for the last .time in a tack-for-tack duel to the mark. However, the German proved faster on the square run and the Australian boat dropped a place, losing another on the final beat to the finish when the Italian boat took a flyer to finish third. Race winner was the famous Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl from Sweden's Kent Carlson and the lItalianGiogio Gorla.

The Swedes now led the series with 14 points from the ltalian on 23.1 points, the Austrians on 30.7, American Bill Buchan on 41 and the Australians on 41.7 points in fifth place.

Chris Pratt had his worst race so far with a 12th in the Finn class, while the American John Bertrand finished first, making up somewhat for his first-race disqualification after being first across the line. Second was New Zealand's consistent Russell Coutts and third the Virgin lsland sailor, Peter Holmberg. At this stage Coutts and Canada's Terry Neilson were equal on 16 points; Pratt was fifth in standings on 39 points and certainly a medal chance with four races to sail.

ln the other classes the Australians did little to improve their earlier performances. Canadian 1 2-metre skipper Terry McLaughlin sailed a great race to win the Flying Dutchman class from American Jonathan McKee and the lsraeli skipper, Voel Sela, but Australia's Jamie Wilmot and James Cook were back in 12th place. At this stage, the US crew now led the series with 6 points from the Canadians on 8.7and the two nations looked likely to fight out the gold medal.

In the 470 class Chris Tillett and Richard lumb could not handle the light winds and finished a poor 18th, dropping back to 17th in the standings. The improving Steve Benjamin (US) won the race but fifth placed Spaniard Luis Doreste was still the pointscore leader on 15.7     points from Benjamin on 19 and German's Wolfgang Hunger on 24.7 points.

The sensation of the Windglider course was the disqualification of New Zealander Bruce Kendall and the subsequent row over a bungle by measurers which almost had the race abandoned. The race winner was world champion Stephan Van Den Berg of Holland from America's Scott Steele and Israel's Ken Klein, with Australia's Greg Hyde finishing 10th. After the race, Germany's Dirk Meyer sought redress because the manufacturer's representative had taped the daggerboards of some 14 competitors who had complained their boards were loose in the centrecase. Unfortunately, the other competitors were not advised. Subsequently the jury agreed to give average points to those who did not have their boards taped.

A Long Way to the top - Race 4

Gary Sheard and his crew keep the Australian Soling flat on a tight spinnaker reach
Perfect Symmetry in the 470s, a class still heavily dominated by the Europeans

Race four was, in effect, the race of reckoning for the Australians and a dismal day it was with only Greg Hyde gaining a place and chances of medals diminishing in the other classes. Again it was a light weather day with pronounced wind shifts on the first weather leg, which raised the question that the races should have been delayed at least an hour to enable the wind direction to settle down.

While most of the Australians got poor starts, and sailed demoralising first weather legs, Greg Hyde was the exception, accelerating out of the line into second berth behind the American Scott Steels and holding that place throughout the race. The performances lifted him to fourth in the standings and certainly a medal chance. For the American it was his second win, and after four races he held a handy lead with 3 points from Van Den Berg (Holland) on 11 points, with a big gap to Kendall (NZ) on 27.7, Meyer (Germany) 30, and Greg Hyde 31 points.

In the Tornado class Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson virtually put themselves out of the gold medal running by finishing 10th, later retiring from the race when told they had hit the Swedish boat at the start. "We didn't know we had touched until we came ashore and we immediately retired", Cairns said. After four races the Kiwi Rex Sellers had a clear pointscore lead over American Randy Smyth, who scored his second win of the series with Sellers second and Paul Elvstroem third again. Sellers had now placed 3-2-1 -2 for 6 points with the American 1 -DNF-7-1 for 13 points. Next was Robert White with 16 points followed by Elvstroem on 21.4 and the Australians on 29.7 points.

Going for an aggressive start, Gary Sheard got pushed over the line in the Solings, and in the unpredictable light weather never recovered. He finished 15th, his worst race of the series and dropped from fifth to seventh overall, though still with a medal chance. The race produced the fourth different winner of the series, and the closeness of the points after the discard shows the standard of competition in this three-man keelboat. Haines held a narrow lead with 15.7 points from placings of 1-9-3-5, Greece's Anastasious Boudouris was second on 18 points from placings of 8-5-4-1, and Hans Fogh third on 19.7 points from placings of 4-6-1-8. Britain's Chris Law was next on 20 points followed by Brazil's Torben Grael on 21.7, Norway's Dag Halfdan Usterud 22 and Gary Sheard on 25.7.

In the Stars, Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon got their usual good start and took a middle track towards the weather mark, only to see the boats to windward of them lift away and those to leeward pick up a better breeze while they floundered in the middle losing place after place. At one stage the Australians had only five boats astern of them and could gain little to finish 12th, a placing they would have to carry because of their retirement from race one. From fifth, they were back to eighth in the pointscore, but not out of medal con¬tention in an open field.

In a major upset, the Dutch crew led all the way to win the Stars from American Bill Buchan and Steven Kelly of The Bahamas. After four races Sweden's Kent Carlson was the series leader with 14 points from placings of 4-2-2-4, Buchan was second on 18 points (1-9-DNF-2), and Greece's llias Hatzilpavlis third on 20 points (2- 1-11-13). The Australians, with placings of RET-3-5-12, were on 33 points.

Meanwhile the international jury had disqualified two competitors for breaching rule 60.2 (means of propulsion), outing the Dutch skipper in the Finns and the New Zealanders in the 470 class.

American John Bertrand scored his second successive win in the Finn class, with New Zealander Russell Coutts again second. After four races the Kiwi headed the standings with 6 points from placings of 1-7-2-2, while Bertrand was on 10 points from DSQ-5-1-1. In third place was Canada's Terry Wilson after discarding his fourth race 15th, with 16 points from placings of 2-2-5-15. Australia's Chris Pratt finished 10th but was still sixth overall with 37 points, after discard, from placings of 7- 4-12-10.

In the Flying Dutchman class, Wilmot and Cook again finished 14th to remain 16th in the standings, with the leaders Terry McLaughlin and America's Jonathan McKee only three points apart going into the fourth race.

In the 470s it was much the same story. The Australians Chris Tillett and Richard Lumb were still 15th in the standings although their race four 10th was their best of the series. Spain's Lius Doreste held a narrow point lead over American Stephan Benjamin, 8.7 to 11 points.

After race four, with no resails, the competitors had two lay days before the final three races. The Australians were struggling for medals.

A Long Way to the top - Race 5

Australia's Greg Hyde makes a good start to windward of the big Windglider fleet.
It was a great year for the New Zealanders, Russell Coutts grinds his Finn into the Long Beach swells on his way to the gold medal.

Race five brought good news. The winds blew fresher and the Australians sailed better after the two rest days, scoring their first race win of the regatta and finishing in the first 10 in every class.

The highlight of the day was the brilliant win by 25-year-old Chris Pratt, whose selection as the Finn Olympian had been criticised in Australia. Gary Sheard in the Solings, Chris Cairns in the Tornado and Greg Hyde in the Windglider class also kept up in the running for medals, though only Pratt and Sheard still had an outside chance of the gold.

Pratt's story had been one of great improvement since his pre-games tour of Europe. With the guidance of Australia's chief coach Mike Fletcher and the tough tuning competition of 1980 Olympian Geoff Davidson, Pratt emerged as one of the best sailors in the Finn class.

He had sailed consistently in the first four races and in race five got the break at the start, sailing a copybook race to beat two Finn Gold Cup winners, American John Bertrand and German Wolfgang Gerz. Pratt took the lead halfway up the first weather mark, lost it to the Swede near the mark, but passed him on the reaching legs and was never headed despite a concerted bid by Bertrand. Although Bertrand closed the gap on the second windward leg, Pratt "blew him out the back door" on the final reaches and then clamped a close cover on the American and the German on the final beat to win by one minute. With two races to sail Bertrand led the Finn standings with 13 points from New Zealander Russell Coutts on 19, and Pratt on 36.

Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson finished second in a belated return to their best form but the Tornado gold medal, after this race, was now firmly in the grasp of New Zealanders Rex Sellers and Chris Timms, who again sailed away to a commanding victory. With a net six points on the board the Kiwis had only to gain a fourth in the last two races to take the gold - even if American Randy Smyth won the last two. The Australians, now back up to fifth place, had a fair chance of taking the bronze against Britain's Robert White and Denmark's Paul Elvstroem.

American World Champion Robbie Haines scored a fine victory in race five of the Soling class to consolidate his lead, but the medal results were still wide open in this hotly contested class. In fact, seven countries were in the running for medals: Haines on 15.7 points leading from Norway 27.7, Greece and Canada on 29.7, Gary Sheard and his crew on 33.7, Brazil on 37.7 and Britain on 36 points.

In this race, Gary Sheard had got his best start of the regatta and was fifth at the first weather mark, improving to fourth at the finish to be still right in the medal stakes.

The disappointment of the day was in the Stars, where Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon slipped back from fourth to 10th, recovering one place at the finish. Although sailing well upwind they were noticeable slower than other competitors downwind. They dropped from sixth in the overall standings down to 10th, with little chance of a medal. The race winner was the German Joachim Griese but the medal outlook was still wide open. Sweden's Kent Carlson was now leading with 22 points from Griese on 27.7, Italy's Giorgio Gorla on 28.8 and America's Bill Buchan on 29.7 points.

The 470 class produced yet another day of drama with the first two crews to finish, the Americans and the New Zealanders, being disqualified as premature starters. So too were the Italian and Australian crews. All protested the race committee for not calling them correctly that they were over, but they all lost and had PMS added to the scorecard. For American Stephan Benjamin it certainly cost him the chance of the gold medal, which now looked in the grip of the Spanish crew, Luis Doreste and Roberto Molina, who were placed first after the PMS of the others. Australians Chris Tlllett and Richard Lumb were seventh to finish, their best place of the regatta, but they were already well out of medal contentions.

In the Windgliders, Greg Hyde kept alive his medal chances in the fluctuating pointscore table, holding fifth spot overall with a seventh in this race. Again it was still a close series, with American Randy Scott, Steele holding a three-point lead over world champion Stephan Van Den Berg. New Zealand's Bruce Kendall fought back with a second place and Italy's Klaus Marran won the race.

In the Flying Dutchman class Jamie Wilmot and James Cook had their best race of the series, lying second at the initial weather mark and finishing sixth. But they were still back in 15th in overall standings. American Jonathan McKee won the race to take a 3.7 point lead over Canadian Terry McLaughlin going in to race six.

A Long Way to the top - Race 6

Race six produced three gold medalists with unbeatable pointscore leads - in the Soling, 470 and Tornado classes - and cliffhangers in the other four classes to be decided in race seven.

It was a day to suit the Australians, with the wind kicking in to 18 knots at the finish. But like most other days, the results were decided at the start and on the first weather leg. It was a chance for the Australian crews to show their fresh weather sailing skills, but the only reasonably good performances came from Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson in the Tornado class and Greg Hyde in the Windgliders, each recording a sixth place to hold them In the medal race.

Without doubt the outstanding result of the day was the gold medal victory of New Zealanders Rex Sellers and Chris Timms in the Tornado class - one of the real upsets of the regatta. While Sellers had shown plenty of boatspeed in the world championships in Australia earlier in the year, at Long Beach he was given only an outside chance against the world champion crews from Australia and the U.S. He outsailed them both.

Sellers had a new and highly experienced crew in Chris Timms from Auckland, and they combined brilliantly to win the gold medal with a score of 3-2-1-2-1-2, not even having to sail in race seven. It was the most consistent winning effort of any of the seven gold medallists.

Americans Randy Smyth and lay Glaser won the race, to virtually clinch the silver medal, with Cairns and Anderson finishing sixth to keep alive their chance of the bronze.

In the Solings it was good news for the Americans. Robbie Haines and his crew, Ed Trevelyn and Rod Davi, notched up a second in this race to win the gold medal with a race up their sleeves, their placings being 1-9-3-5-1-2. They elected not to start in the last race. Haines said it had been a tough series to win and they had not been sailing to their full potential early in the regatta.

The three Americans have been sailing together in Solings since 1972 and all come from the San Diego Yacht Club. They finished second in the 1976 trials to John Kolius, who won the silver medal, and won the 1980 trials for the team which withdrew from the Moscow Olympics. Haines, who works for Hobie International, has sailed for Australia in the Admiral's Cup aboard the Perth yacht Hitchhiker, while Davis was an adviser to the Australia crew in the 1980 America's Cup. Davis, a congressional cup winner, climaxed his gold medal win by being named the following day as skipper of Eagle, the Newport Harbour Yacht Club's challenger for the 1987 America's Cup.

The Australian crew had a poor race after a bad start and finished 11th, and although still seventh overall their chance of a medal was now slim.

The third gold medal decided in race six was in the 470 - mainly as a result of rejected protests by the crews who had been listed as PMS in race five. Despite strong protests by the American, New Zealand and US crews, the jury backed the race committee and the disqualifications stood. For the unlucky American crew a seventh in race six didn't help, while the Spaniards Luis Doreste and Roberto Molina needed only a ninth to tally an unbeatable points lead. Their race record was 3-1-5-2-1-9 and they also had no need to sail in race seven. The Australians Tillett and Lumb finished 12th.

Doreste is a student from Barcelona and is a former top sailor in Europa Moths. He finished fifth in the Moscow Olympics.

Veteran American Bill Buchan and his young crew, Stephan Erlkson, sailed to the points lead in the Star class with a fine win in the fresh conditions. The gold medal was not to be decided by a four- way battle in the final race. Buchan led with 29.7 points from the Italians on 31.8, the Swedes on 3 3.7 and the German crew on 3 5.7 points. Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon finished eighth, after earlier in the race lying in fourth place, to be ninth overall and right out of medal contention.

France's Gildas Guillerot won the sixth race of the Windgliders, but the medals were now clearly a three-way battle between world champion Stephan Van Den Berg of Holland, American Scott Steele and New Zealand's Bruce Kendall. The Dutchman finished second to take the overall lead with 22 points, while the lightweight American was back in ninth again, and on 31 points. Bruce Kendall finished third to be on 36.4 points.

Greg Hyde finished sixth to hold sixth place overall, but a medal looked beyond him going into the last race.

Officials were forecasting a match race to decide the Flying Dutchman class between Canada's Terry McLaughlin and US skipper Jonathan McKee. After six races, McLaughlin's scorecard read 3-2- 1-1-8-1 for 8.7 points, and McKee's 2-1-2-3-1-4 gave him 11.7 points. Jamie Wilmot and James Cook finished 10th in this race to be 15th in the pointscore.

A Long Way to the top - Race 7( Final Race)

USA's Scott Steele stretched out on the windward beat
Australia's Greg stretched out on the windward beat.

And so to the final race. Australia's last chance for a medal, a bronze, rested with the crew who had come here as potential gold medallists: the two-times Tornado world champions Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson.

They went into this race knowing they had to win it to get the bronze medal. They were only seventh on the pointscores and they had to see Denmark's Paul and Trine Elvstroem and Britain's Robert White and David Campbell-James back in fifth or worse. Bermuda's Alan Burland and Christopher Nash had to beat the Australians for first place to take the medal.

The Australians decided to make a risky port-tack start at the port end of the line. They stuck to that decision, unlike previous races where they had changed plans halfway through the starting procedure. They hit the line at top speed, just to leeward of Elvstroem, and ducked astern of several boats, but were heading out to the favoured right-hand side of the course.

The Austrian boat led at the weather mark and the Australians were just a couple of boat lengths astern, followed by Bermuda, Holland, Germany and Denmark. On the second reaching leg the Sydney sailors hit the front and were never headed.

Alan Burland worked his way up to second place during the race but never looked a threat, and the Australians dashed away to a 37 second win. The Dutch crew passed the Bermudan boat near the line to finish three seconds ahead.

The Elvstroems sailed a fine race in the 18-knot breeze, too heavy for Paul and his daughter, to finish fifth, losing the bronze medal to the Australians by .7 point.

Meanwhile the US crew of Randy Smyth and Jay Glaser sailed a "keep out of trouble" race to finish 10th and ensure themselves the silver medal. The New Zealanders had already won the gold and did not sail, their final scoreboard reading 3-2-1-2-1-2-DNS for a total of 14.7 points. The Americans finished with a score of l-DNF-7-1- 4-1-10 (37.0), and the Australians took the bronze medal with 4- 16-3-RET-2-6-1 (50.4).

Cairns and Anderson certainly sailed one of their finest races to clinch the bronze medal; the only pity of it was that they weren't able to sail so well earlier in the regatta. They will go down in history, of course, for having developed the pre-bent rig which the majority of the opponents used at the Olympics. In fact the New Zealanders even used Cairns-made sails.

The four-way battle for the gold In the Star class ended with a fighting win by 49-year-old Bill Buchan and Stephen Ertkson to clinch the gold medal for the U.S.A. Buchan came from seventh early in the race to win comfortably, finishing the series with a score of 1 -9-RET-2-6-1 -1 for 2 9.7 points. For Buchan it was a great result after trying unsuccessfully to gain the Olympic berth for the US since 1972. Germany's Joachim Griese finished third to win the silver medal by 2.1 points from Italy's Giorgio Gorla, who won the bronze by .2 point from the Swede Kent Carlson. The Germans tallied 41.4 points from places of PMS-4-4-6-1-4-3, while the Italians had 43.5 points from 3-6-3-7-3-2-6.

Australians Colin Beashel and Richard Coxon ended up 11th with 81.7 points from places of RET-3-5-12-9-8-13, a position which did not reflect their sailing ability and their tactics. They just had a slow boat downwind. In any case, it was a fine effort by Beashel as he had stepped into Stars only eight months before the Olympics.

Chris Pratt ended up sixth in the Finn class after a series of 7-4- 12-9-1-9-11. He could take some comfort from being one of only three Australians to win a race.

The Finns ended dramatically on shore when New Zealander Russell Coutts almost failed to "weigh-in" correctly after a fifth place that would have given him the gold medal. Twice his weight jacket and sailing gear failed to come under the maximum of 20 pounds. Only with the third try, after his gear had been weighed separately, totalling 19.06 pounds, did he qualify. Failure after three attempts would have cost him the gold.

Coutts, 22, won the gold with places of 1-7-2-2-21-3-5 for 34.7 points, just beating American John Bertrand on 37 points from a series of DSQ-5-1-1-2-5-8. The bronze went to Terry Neilson, from Canada, with 37.7 points from places 2-2-5-14-5-1-6. Coutts is a civil engineering student; he won the world youth championship in Lasers in 1981.

The name Buchan came into the gold medal list again in the Flying Dutchman class when America's Jonathan McKee and Carl Buchan beat the Canadians Terry McLaughlin and Evert Bastet by two places in the last race to decide the gold. Carl is Star skipper Bill Buchan's son - the first time a father and son have an Olympic gold medal in yachting since Hilary Smart and his son Paul won the Stars at the 1948 London Games.

(Australian Bill Northam and his son Rod won gold medals at Tokyo, Bill skippering the 5.5 metre class yacht and Rod competing in the Australian rowing eight).

After an America's Cup-type tagging encounter before the Flying Dutchman start, the Canadians lost their chances when they were recalled. They lost at least a minute and did a fine job to climb back to within two placings of the Americans. They later claimed they had returned behind the line before the gun fired and produced video evidence for the jury, but again the jury backed the race committee.

In the end the US crew won with 19.7 points from placings of 2-1 -2-3-1-4-7, with the Canadians on 22.7 from 3-2-1-1-8-1-9. The bronze medal went to Britain's Jonathan Richards and Peter Allam on 48.7 points from 11-3-5-4-4-8-2. The Australians Jamie Wilmot and James Cook had a poor series, finishing 15th from placings of 12-14-12-14-6-10-11 for 100.7 points.

With the gold medal already decided in the 470 class the Interest in race seven centered on the battle for silver and bronze. The gold medallists Luis Doreste and Roberto Molina won with 33.7 points from place of 3-1-5-2-1-9-DNS, with the silver going to Americans Stephan Benjamin and Chris Steinfeld on 43 points (10-2-1 -4-PMS- 7-2) and the bronze to the French crew, Thierry Peponnet and Luc Pillot (2-9-15-8-3-1-6).

For South Australians Chris Tillett and Richard Lumb the series was a big disappointment, ending up 21st in the fleet of 28 with a finish of DSQ-11-18-10-PMS-12-DNF, for 145 points.

The battle for the silver and bronze medals in the Soling class ended dramatically in the jury room when the Norwegian boat, skippered by Dag Halfdan Usterud, was disqualified for infringing the controversial rule 60.2 (means of propulsion). Jury members on the course reported the Norwegians for "pumping" and gave evidence that during the last 100 metres of the last downwind leg a crew member pulled and released the boom rythmically at a frequency of about one cycle per second. Another crew member pulled and released the spinnaker guy at the same frequency rythmically and over the same period. The jury ruled that these actions infringed rule 60.2 (B) and disqualified the Norwegians from the final race - costing them the silver medal. It would have been Norway's first medal since 1968.

So the silver medal went to the Brazilian crew skippered by Torben Grael, and the bronze to Hans Fogh from Canada. (America's gold medallist Robbie Haines did not start in the race). Brazil's score was 43.4 from 3-7-2-10-10-1-3 and Canada's 4-6-1-8-5-5-5 for 49.7 points. Australians Gary Sheard, Tim Doming and Dean Gordon ended seventh overall with 62.4 points from placings of 5-3-5-15-4-11-6, a good effort in an outstanding fleet.

Australia scored its third race win in the final heat of the Wlndglider class, with Greg Hyde showing the brilliance that has won him the world championship in the class. This gave him a scoreboard of 8-12-8-2-7-6-1 for 55.7 points, well outside the medal ring.

World champion Stephan Van Den Berg from Holland won the gold medal with a scoreboard of 4-2-1-11-4-2-3 for 27.7 points, the silver went to American Randy Scott Steele with 46 points from 7-1-2-1-9-9-14 and the bronze to New Zealand's Bruce Kendall with 46.4 points from 2-3-DSQ-13-2-3-5.

So the Australian Olympic yachting team of 1984 ended up with just one medal - a bronze - but with competitors in the first seven places in four of the classes. It wasn't quite what we expected of a group of sailors with so much skill, and with the best coaching and back-up support of any Australian Olympic team.

Perhaps eight years away from the Olympic scene didn't help and certainly we obviously underestimated the strength of the competition, particularly the Americans, New Zealanders and Canadians. One important thing is that the coaching team which gave these yachtsmen such good support must continue in their role in international yachting. We must send more competitors to world championships overseas, certainly the planned Keil Olympic classes World Cup regatta at Kiel, Germany, in 1987. At this rarified level of international sailing it's a long way to the top... to get there we've got to keep competing against the top people.

A Long Way to the top - 1984 Olympic Pictures

Photographs by:

Carlo Borlenghi, Francois Richard,Koran Evans and Peter Campbell

Gary Sheard's boxing Kangaroo flag lends an informal note to the opening ceremony for the Olympic yachting.
1984 Olympic Sailing
Opening ceremony for the 1984 Olympic yachting. The Australian team.
Australia's bronze medallists, Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson, model the latest fashions in Olympic sailing co-ordinates.


Aussie Yachties tipped for collect all the gold
Olympics 1984 - Sailors
Olympics 1984- Sailing Team
Australian Olympic Sailing Team LA 1984


Olympic Games 1984 - Greg Hyde
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