Mourning a Mentor

Published on August 8th, 2013

Canadian Paul Cote (January 28, 1944 – July 19, 2013) won a bronze medal in the Soling Class at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Here John Kerr shares his memory of the man…

Paul Cote was bigger than life in so many ways. As a young kid growing up on the sidelines of sailing, he and John Ekels and Dave Miller were bigger stars to me than most sports heroes of the day. I had followed their exploits sailing their Soling in Vancouver and around the world as much as I could.

I met Paul for the first time at the Olympic trials in 1972 in Halifax and remember his wonderful drive and focus and the team’s chemistry. During a pick up football game prior to racing I think I might have hit helmsman Dave Miller by accident, and if I recall correctly, Cote was right there helping his helmsman off the turf for good that day before something really bad happened.

I remember too their wonderful toast to all of us who were hoping to dethrone them that week. Having won the series before the last race, they endured the tow out to the course and then lost their main halyard up the mast and the champagne started to flow. They went on to win their Olympic medal for Canada in Kiel.

Those were politically charged times in Olympic history and perhaps those influences motivated Paul to his new passion on co-founding Greenpeace and following his passion therein. For a guy like me, I can only thank guys like Paul who sent me off on my way in this great sport and who showed me the path to sail like they did. – Canadian Yachting

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