Sailing at the 1900 Summer Olympics
at the Games of the II Olympiad
An impression of yacht racing (1867) by Monet
North of Le Havre
Metropolitan Museum of Art
● Le Havre
|Dates||First race: 20 May 1900
Last race: 27 May 1900
First race: 1 August 1900
Last race: 5 August 1900
(including 1 woman) from 6 countries
|Top ranked countries|
Sailing/Yachting is an Olympic sport starting from the Games of the first Olympiad (1896 Olympics) in Athens. With the exception of 1904 and possible 1916 sailing was always a part of the Olympic program. The sailing program in 1900 consisted of a total of eight sailing classes. For six classes, the races were scheduled from 20 – 27 May at the river Seine around Meulan, and a series of three races was held for the largest classes from 1 – 5 August on the North Atlantic off the coast of Le Havre.
Sailing venue of the Games of the Second Olympiad (1900)
During the early years of the Olympic movement there were no strict rules for the assignment of venues. For the Olympic sailing in 1900 the organizers decided to combine the Olympic sailing for the smaller yachts with the regattas of the Exposition Universelle on the river Seine near Meulan. For the larger yachts an Olympic regatta was held at Le Havre.
During the Olympic regattas of the Exposition Universelle of 1900 there were more than 100 yachts racing from Paris, Rouen, Cannes, Nantes and Arcachon and yachts from England, Germany, the United States and Holland. The Bassin Olympique was the river Seine near the Cercle de la Voile de Paris that served as the Olympic harbor.
The race conditions at Meulan during the Olympic regatta were not ideal. A light breeze could hardly make the sailing interesting. Since the river Seine mainly runs from east to west, the light north-easterly breeze was partly blocked by buildings or trees on the river bank, thus heavily influencing the regatta.
|Cercle de la Voile de Paris
de Meulan Les Mureaux
|Address||30, quai Albert Glandaz|
|Town or city||78130 Les Mureaux|
|Owner||Cercle de la Voile de Paris|
During the second part of the Olympic regatta the Atlantic Ocean was used for the races of the 10 – 20 ton and the 20+ ton yachts. The conditions during the regatta were so good that the 10 – 20 Ton class was able to sail the complete 22 nautical mile triangular course. The premises of the Société des Régates du Havre were used as Olympic harbor.
|La Société des Régates du Havre
|Owner||La Société des Régates du Havre|
Since there were two venues there were two course areas. One the river Seine near Meulan. Here the organization could set courses of 8, 15 and 19 kilometres (4.3, 8.1 and 10.3 nmi). The other course area was on the North Atlantic off the coats of Le Havre. Here courses could be set up to 40 nautical miles (74 km).
|2||6||8||64||about 150||1 |
Sailing during the turn of the century was not so well defined as it became later during the 20th century. Racing rules were mostly defined by local yacht clubs or in some cases by a National Yachting Federation. Also, boats were not standardized to what is now called One Design or One Builder classes. Therefore many handicap systems or systems that put yachts into different categories were used. In 1892 Auguste Godinet developed a formula that placed different boats in different Ton categories. This rule was adopted by the Union des yachts français and later by several other National Yachting Federations like the Société Nautique de Genève. For the sailing at the 1900 Olympics this rule was chosen to determine the tonnage of a yacht.
For the smallest class, 0 – ½ Ton, among others, Lark's were used. These Larks, copies of the Davis Lark and of the Sorceress designed by Linton Hope, became famous one-designs in France Monotype de Chatou at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Olympics were open for the following classes:
|Class||Type||Venue||Event||Sailors||First OG||Olympics so far|
|0 – ½ Ton||Undefined||Meulan||Unknown||1900||1|
|½ – 1 Ton||Undefined||Meulan||Unknown||1900||1|
|1 – 2 Ton||Undefined||Meulan||Unknown||1900||1|
|2 – 3 Ton||Undefined||Meulan||Unknown||1900||1|
|3 – 10 Ton||Undefined||Meulan||Unknown||1900||1|
|10 – 20 Ton||Undefined||Le Havre||Unknown||1900||1|
|20+ Ton||Undefined||Le Havre||Unknown||1900||1|
|Legend: = Mixed gender event|
|●||Meulan competition||●||Le Havre competition|
|Sailing||1||1 1 1||1 1 1||1 1 1 1||No
|Total gold medals||1||3||3||4||1||1|
However the results of the individual races are quite clear there is not much consensus on what race was part of the Olympics and who where considered as medalists. if we look at the main sources of information on this, The official report, International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Sports Reference we find discrepancies. As we look, for example, to the results of the 3 – 10 Ton races we find the following reports on the medalists:
|The official report||Race 1||Henri Gilardoni (FRA)||Henri Smulders (NED)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)|
|Race 2||Howard Taylor (GBR)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)||H. MacHenry (FRA)|
|IOC||Race 2||Howard Taylor (GBR)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)||H. MacHenry (FRA)|
|ISAF||Race 2||Howard Taylor (GBR)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)||H. MacHenry (FRA)|
|Sports Reference||Race 1||Henri Gilardoni (FRA)||Henri Smulders (NED)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)|
|Race 2||Howard Taylor (GBR)||Maurice Gufflet (FRA)||H. MacHenry (USA)|
|Note: Even the nationality of H. MacHenry varies per source!|
In all classes at Meulan, with exception of the Open class, there were two distinct "finals" Boats were assigned time handicaps according to their weight within each class and cash prizes were handed out to the winners of each race. The IOC initially recognized the winner of the first race in each class as Olympic champion except in the case of the 10 – 20 ton class, which was decided on aggregate time over three races. However currently the participants of both first and second races in three classes (0 – 0.5t, 1 – 2t and 2 – 3t) are present in the IOC database as medalists. So the second races in these three classes had been recognized by the IOC, and for each of these 3 events two gold, two silver and two bronze medals were retrospectively awarded by the IOC. This however does not explain why in the 3 – 10 Ton race 2 is awarded with Olympic medals and not race 1.
Therefor, in order to be complete and leave the final conclusions to others, we here note all races and medalists of the regattas of the Games of the second Olympiad as well as of the Exposition Universelle and count all winners as medalist.
Medal table 1896 – 1900
Since the Olympic sailing regatta in 1896 was cancelled due to circumstances the medal table of 1900 is equal to the 1896 – 1900 one:
|2||Great Britain (GBR)||4||1||1||6|
|3||Mixed team (ZZX)||2||0||0||2|
|7||United States (USA)||0||0||2||2|
There was some discussion about the validity of the Olympic status of Sailing at the 1900 Summer Olympics. The following quote states the status quo on this subject:
Given the possible awarding of cash prizes, the “Olympic status” of this sport in 1900 must be in question. It is not exactly certain if the prizes were cash or “objets d’art” of the values listed, thus, for now, I have retained yachting as an Olympic sport in 1900.—Ian Buchanan (First president of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH), Sports Reference
During the Sailing regatta's at the 1900 Summer Olympics among others the following persons were competing (or owning yachts) in the various classes:
- First female Gold medalist of the modern Olympics:
- "Digital Library Collection (Official Olympic Reports 1896 - 2008)" (PDF). Digital Library Collection at la84.org. la84foundation. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- Numbers of boats and competitors are not reliable. In the official report some figures of the World exhibition and the Olympic Games are mixed.
- Hélène de Pourtalès was the only documented woman participated in the 1900 Summer Olympics regatta. She won the a gold medal in the 1 to 2 ton.
- Several teams had crews from multiple countries, and in one case, they won a gold medal. This team, of the United Kingdom and France, is currently attributed as the ZZX mixed team.
- "Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1900, Concours D'Exercices Physiques et de Sports" (in French). Imprimerie Nationale (LA84). 1901. pp. 399–430. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Hélène de Pourtalès was the only documented woman participated in the 1900 Summer Olympics regatta. She won the a gold and a silver medal in the 1 to 2 ton.
- "Fleet racing - Open - 3 - 10 Ton Under the Thames Measurement Rule". International Sailing Federation. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- "Sports Reference – Sailing at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Mixed 3-10 Ton". Sports Reference. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- "Paris 1900: Sailing". IOC. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- "Sailing at the 1900 Paris Summer Games". Sports Reference. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- "The Countess de Pourtales – After all the first modern female Olympic starter". International Society of Olympic Historians. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
"Paris 1900". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.