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Sailing at the 1952 Summer Olympics

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Title: Sailing at the 1952 Summer Olympics  
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Subject: Olympic sailing classes, Sailing at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Liuskasaari, Bob Maas, 1952 Summer Olympics
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Sailing at the 1952 Summer Olympics

at the Games of the XV Olympiad
Official pin of the 1952 Summer Olympics
Venues Harmaja
Dates First race: 20 July 1952 (1952-07-20)
Last race: 28 July 1952 (1952-07-28)
Sailors 227 from 29 countries
Boats 93
Top ranked countries
United States: 1st  2nd  10 3rd  
Norway: 1st  2nd  3rd  
Denmark: 1st  2nd  3rd  
Italy: 1st  2nd  3rd  

Sailing/Yachting is an Olympic sport starting from the Games of the 1st Olympiad (1896 Olympics in Athens  Greece). With the exception of 1904 and possible 1916 sailing was always a part of the Olympic program. The Sailing program of 1952 consisted of a total of five sailing classes (disciplines). For each class seven races were scheduled from 20–28 July 1952 of the coast of Harmaja.

The sailing was done on the triangular type Olympic courses. The start was made in the center of a set of 8 numbered marks that were places in a circle. During the starting procedure the sequence of the marks was communicated to the sailors. By picking the mark that was most upwind the start could always be made upwind. This system is, at least in certain German lakes, still in use.


Island Lighthouse Harmaja
Skyline of Island Lighthouse Harmaja
Liuskasaari Olympic Harbor

Two course areas were created in front of Helsinki. One for the Finn just outside the island Liuskasaari. The Finn course was 5.4 nm long and triangular in shape. For the keelboats a course area near the Harmaja lighthouse was used. A 13.1 nm course was set for Star, Dragon, 5.5 & 6 Metre just over one nm South of the lighthouse. Specially the keelboat course was situated in an area of fair sailing conditions. No currents or tidal movements, and no obstacles around the course that could create wind shadows. On the other hand the Finn course was set near sheltered islands and thus safe for this type of sailing. This course give the spectators also a nice view of the races.

The races were held from 20–23 and 26–28 July. In between the sailors could recover or made boat repairs.

Three yacht clubs were involved:



Continents Countries Classes Boats Male Female
5 29 5 93 227 3



Countries that participated in the Sailing event of the 1952 Olympic Games.
Blue: Water
Gray: Never participated in OG
Dark Gray: Participated in earlier OG
Green: Country participated for the first time
Dark Blue: Country participated also on previous games
Red: Country boycotted the sailing event of the OG
 Argentina (ARG)  Australia (AUS)  Austria (AUT)
 Bahamas (BAH)  Belgium (BEL)  Brazil (BRA)
 Canada (CAN)  Cuba (CUB)  Denmark (DEN)
 Spain (ESP)  Finland (FIN)  France (FRA)
 Great Britain (GBR)  Germany (GER)  Greece (GRE)
 Ireland (IRL)  Italy (ITA)  Japan (JPN)
 Monaco (MON)  Netherlands (NED)  Norway (NOR)
 Portugal (POR)  South Africa (RSA)  Switzerland (SUI)
 Sweden (SWE)  Soviet Union (URS)  Uruguay (URU)
 United States (USA)  Yugoslavia (YUG)

Classes (equipment)

Class Type Event Sailors Trapeze Mainsail Jib/Genoa Spinnaker First OG Olympics so far
Finn Dinghy 1 0 + 1952 1
Star Keelboat 2 0 + + 1932 4
Dragon Keelboat 3 0 + + + 1948 2
5.5 Metre Keelboat 3 0 + + + 1952 1
6 Metre Keelboat 5 0 + + + 1908 9

= Male, = Female, = Open

1952 Olympic Classes designs
1952 Olympic Classes in action

Medal summary

Event Gold Silver Bronze

1952: Finn

 Denmark (DEN)
Paul Elvstrøm
 Great Britain (GBR)
Charles Currey
 Sweden (SWE)
Rickard Sarby

1952: Star

 Italy (ITA)
Agostino Straulino
Nicolò Rode
 United States (USA)
John Price
John Reid
 Portugal (POR)
Joaquim Fiúza
Francisco de Andrade

1952: Dragon

 Norway (NOR)
Thor Thorvaldsen
Haakon Barfod
Sigve Lie
 Sweden (SWE)
Per Gedda
Erland Almqvist
Sidney Boldt-Christmas
 Germany (GER)
Theodor Thomsen
Erich Natusch
Georg Nowka

1952: 5.5 Metre

 United States (USA)
Britton Chance
Michael Schoettle
Edgar White
Sumner White
 Norway (NOR)
Peder Lunde
Vibeke Lunde
Børre Falkum-Hansen
 Sweden (SWE)
Folke Wassén
Carl-Erik Ohlson
Magnus Wassén

1952: 6 Metre

 United States (USA)
Herman Whiton
Everard Endt
John Morgan
Eric Ridder
Julian Roosevelt
Emelyn Whiton
 Norway (NOR)
Finn Ferner
Tor Arneberg
Johan Ferner
Erik Heiberg
Carl Mortensen
 Finland (FIN)
Ernst Westerlund
Ragnar Jansson
Jonas Konto
Rolf Turkka
Paul Sjöberg

Medal tables

Sailing 1952

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (USA) 2 1 0 3
2  Norway (NOR) 1 2 0 3
3  Denmark (DEN) 1 0 0 1
 Italy (ITA) 1 0 0 1
5  Sweden (SWE) 0 1 2 3
6  Great Britain (GBR) 0 1 0 1
7  Finland (FIN) 0 0 1 1
 Portugal (POR) 0 0 1 1
 Germany (GER) 0 0 1 1
Total 5 5 5 15

Sailing 1896–1952

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Norway 14 9 1 24
2  Great Britain 11 4 3 18
3  United States 6 3 2 11
4  France 5 7 7 19
5  Sweden 5 7 7 19
6  Netherlands 3 3 4 10
7  Denmark 2 3 1 6
8  Belgium 2 2 1 5
9  Italy 2 0 0 2
10  Germany 1 2 2 5
11  Switzerland 1 0 0 1
 Mixed team (ZZX) 1 0 0 1
13  Finland 0 1 5 6
14  Canada 0 1 1 2
 Portugal 0 1 1 2
16  Argentina 0 1 0 1
 Cuba 0 1 0 1
18  Spain 0 0 1 1
 Estonia 0 0 1 1
 Russia 0 0 1 1
Total 20 53 45 38 136


Finn dinghies under construction by Borresens Baadebygger, Denmark
  • Sailors from abroad were housed in the homes of Finnish yachtsmen
  • Two motor launches accommodated pressmen on the yacht race courses
  • Only the Yachting officials wore a different official uniform, blue coat and grey trousers
  • The Danish shipyard of Borresens Baadebygger was the builder of all Finn dinghies, since then till the beginning of the 21st century closely committed to Olympic Sailing.


During the Sailing regatta's at the 1952 Summer Olympics among others the following persons were competing in the various classes:

  •  Denmark (DEN), Paul Elvstrøm in the Finn won his second consecutive Gold medal
  •  Sweden (SWE), Finn sailor Rickard Sarby, also designer of the Finn, injured his right hand during however he took the third place
  •  Australia (AUS), Jock Sturrock the first Australian to represent his country in sailing, became later honoured with the Lindy Award for sportsmanship, Australian yachtsman of the year and ultimately Australian of the year.
At the 1952 Olympic Games
Crownprince Olav of Norway, member of the Jury in Helsinki, with Norwegian Dragon sailor Thor Thorvaldsen (right). 



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