28 Jul 1984
12 Aug 1984
Country of the host city
The Los Angeles/Long Beach combination seen in 1932 was repeated. So too was a boycott, with countries from the Soviet sphere of influence refusing to come to the USA. Nevertheless it was the biggest Olympic sailing event seen at the time with 62 nations competing. For the first time since Melbourne, sailing was contiguous to the main Games. A nice touch was the presence of Owen Churchill, then 88, and who'd been one of the USA's first two sailing gold medallists from the 1932 Games. He attended in his restored, medal-winning 8-metre Angelita. Sailing gained a new seventh event, windsurfer, using the Winglider class. Straightaway it was the largest fleet with 38 competitors, 10 more than the next largest, the Finns and 470s.
The USA was dominant, winning medals in every class, something not seen since 1912. The first three Olympic regattas had been host country bonanzas. This was the Games where many contemporary top sailors made their mark. Kiwi Russell Coutts fought off terrible salt-aggravated boils to win the Finn gold from American John Bertrand. Jonathan McKee took the FD title for the USA 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. Behind Haines was Brazil's Torben Grael and it's fascinating to compare his record with the likes of Elvstrom, Schumann and Mankin.
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, a quite exceptional performance. This was Paul Elvstrom's last Games, coming out retirement at the age of 56, to sail a Tornado with his youngest daughter Trine. They finished 4th, agonisingly, just one place better in any race would have secured the bronze so many wanted the Elvstroms to win. 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 7th overall in a 28 boat competition.