Olympic History: A Royal Regatta in Rome
Published on June 16th, 2016
by Fi Edwards, World Sailing
The Rome Games in 1960 was the first time ever the Olympics was televised around the world, arguably the first step on the road to becoming the global mega event we will see in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this August.
The organizers used the opportunity to showcase history alongside modernity with venues that wowed the world. One of those venues, and the location for the Olympic sailing regatta, the scenic Gulf of Naples, offered light conditions and plenty of visual drama and perhaps the perfect location for a Royal to be ‘crowned’ Olympic champion.
Sailing in the elegant Dragon, World Sailing’s President of Honour and IOC honorary member, HRH King Constantine II of Greece, then crown prince, was part of the first crew to win an Olympic gold medal for Greece in sailing since Stockholm 1912. His Royal Highness, sailing with Odysseus Eskidioglou and Georgios Zaimis, beat 26 other nations to take the gold.
The Greek boat’s consistent performance in the tricky light winds eased them past the silver medal crew of Jorge Salas Chávez Héctor Calegaris and Jorge del Río Salas (ARG) and the bronze medal boat of Antonio Cosentino, Antonio Ciciliano and Giulio De Stefano (ITA) who had led for most of the regatta.
However, HRH King Constantine II wasn’t the only Royal competing in sailing at the 1960 Games. Prinz Bhanubanda Bira of Thailand was competing in his second Olympic Games and sailed to 19th place in the Star with crew Boonpuen Chomvith.
The 1960 Olympic Games would also play host to ‘sailing royalty’ littered throughout all the fleets. Paul Elvstrom (DEN) won his historic fourth gold medal; Hans Fogh (DEN), who would go on to develop the sails for the Laser and Laser Radial, took silver in the Flying Dutchman; and George O’Day (USA) and Peter Tallberg (FIN) competed in the 5.5 Metre class with O’Day taking the gold.
It wasn’t just the competitors list where the legends of our sport could be found. Distinguished former Olympians Peter Scott (GBR), Beppe Croce (ITA), Eddy Stutterheim (NED), Jean-Jacques Herbulot (FRA) and Edgar Beyn (GER) served as officials on the Race Committee, International Jury, and Measurement Committee. Truly a star studded event.