Eight Bells: Valentin Mankin

Published on June 2nd, 2014

Four-time Olympic medalist Valentin Mankin, one of sailing’s greatest ambassadors, passed away June 1, 2014 after a long battle fighting cancer at the age of 75.

Born on the 19th of August 1938 in the city of Kiev, Ukraine, Valentin Mankin sailed for the old Soviet Union from 1955 until 1988. During that time, Valentin came as close as anyone ever has to equaling Paul Elvstrom’s record of four sailing Olympic gold medals, and in today’s professional era, Sir Ben Ainslie with his four Olympic gold medals.

Valentin won his first Olympic gold medal sailing the Finn at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and his second gold in the Tempest in 1972 at the Munich Games. He also won a silver in 1976 at the Montreal Games, despite losing his regular crew to injury shortly before the Olympic Regatta. In that Olympics, he topped bronze medalist Dennis Conner. Valentin then made a comeback to Olympic sailing in the Star class and won his third gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics Games, sailing on his home waters of the then Soviet Union.

His Olympic record could have been even finer, if he had qualified for the Olympics in the Finn class in 1960 and 1964, but under the Soviet system, he was passed over for sailors with more seniority. Valentin immigrated to Italy in 1988, where he remained active as a great coach to his death.

“In recent years he had found the enthusiasm to contribute significantly to organize the activities of the Federal Centre for Olympic Preparation in Campione del Garda,” noted ISAF and IFV President Carlo Croceo. “This was a great opportunity to capitalize on his enormous experience and expertise. He was an athlete, a coach and a very special man. He was really close to all Italian sailors and we will miss him very much.”

Valentin leaves behind his wife Rita, daughter Irina and his beloved grandson Dimitri. – SailCoach

Photo below by Guy Gurney of Valentin with his Star crew Aleksandr Mutzischenko, taken at Kieler Woche in 1980.

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