Sailing at the 1908 Summer Olympics

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at the Games of the IV Olympiad
Olimpiad medal 1908.jpg Olimpiad medal 1908 2.jpg
1908 Gold Medal (Obverse and Reverse)
Venues Ryde, Isle of Wight
Hunters Quay, Scotland
Dates First race: 27 July 1908 (1908-07-27) (Ryde)
Last race: 29 July 1908 (1908-07-29)
First race: 11 August 1908 (1908-08-11) (Hunters Quay)
Last race: 12 August 1908 (1908-08-12)
Sailors 64 Male and 2 Female (Documented) from 5 countries
Boats 14
Top ranked countries
 Great Britain: 1st, gold medalist(s)  2nd, silver medalist(s)  3rd, bronze medalist(s)  
 Belgium: 1st, gold medalist(s)  2nd, silver medalist(s)  3rd, bronze medalist(s)  
 Sweden: 1st, gold medalist(s)  2nd, silver medalist(s)  3rd, bronze medalist(s)  
← 1900
1912 →

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 1908 was open for a total of five sailing classes (disciplines), but actually only four Sailing events were contested. The planned venue of all races, named matches, was Ryde, Isle of Wight.


Royal Victoria Yacht Club
RVYC, Ryde, 1909.png
Clubhouse of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Ryde, 1909
Burgee Royal Victoria Yacht Club.png
General information
Status Complete
Type Clubhouse
Town or city Ryde
Country  GBR
Coordinates 50°43′58.92″N 1°9′44.91″W / 50.7330333°N 1.1624750°W / 50.7330333; -1.1624750Coordinates: 50°43′58.92″N 1°9′44.91″W / 50.7330333°N 1.1624750°W / 50.7330333; -1.1624750
Elevation Sealevel
Construction started 1846
Client Royal Victoria Yacht Club
Owner Prince Consort Building
Design and construction
Architect Italianate style Regency architecture
Royal Clyde Yacht Clubhouse
Royal Clyde Yacht Club.png
The Clubhouse of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club Clyde at Hunter Quay (GBR) was made available for the Organizing Committee of the B.O.C. and the Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club for the 12 Metre Matches.
Burgee Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club.png
General information
Status Complete
Type Hotel & Clubhouse
Town or city Hunters Quay
Country  GBR
Coordinates 55°58′11.31″N 4°54′31.78″W / 55.9698083°N 4.9088278°W / 55.9698083; -4.9088278
Elevation Sealevel

At the 1907 The Hague Conference of the IOC Ryde at the Isle of Wight was appointed to host the sailing regattas, for all classes, of the games of the IVth Olympiad. However, when there were only two British entries for the 12 Metre matches, and both yacht were located at the Firth of Clyde, the decision was made to use Hunters Quay as a second venue [1]

Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Ryde[edit]

The RVYC was founded on 24 May 1845 by Prince Albert to give Queen Victoria a Yacht Club which she was entitled to enter as a mere female![2]

For the Olympic matches the race committee used the available shipping buoys as marks for the courses. for the classes the following course lengths were used:

  • 6 Metre: 13 nautical miles (24 km)
  • 7 Metre: 13 nautical miles (24 km)
  • 8 Metre: 16 nautical miles (30 km)

Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club, Hunters Quay[edit]

  • 12 Metre: 26 nautical miles (48 km)

Course areas[edit]

The following course areas were used during the 1908 Olympic sailing regattas:

1908 Olympic Course Areas
Olympic Course Area for the 6 & 7 Metre, Ryde
Olympic 12 Metre Course, Hunters Quay



Continents Countries Classes Entries Male Female
1 5 5 14 64 2

A maximum of 2 boats per country per class was allowed.


Map of Participating Sailing Continents at the 1908 Summer Olympics
Green = Participating for the first time
Blue = Participating
Light Blue = Have previously participated
● Europe


Source: [1]

Map of Participating Sailing Countries at the 1908 Summer Olympics
Green = Participating for the first time
Blue = Participating
Light Blue = Have previously participated
 Belgium (BEL)  France (FRA)  Great Britain (GBR)  Norway (NOR)
 Sweden (SWE)

Classes (equipment)[edit]

Source: [1] Although one of the oldest organized sporting activities, sailing in the early first part of the 20th century was not uniformly organized. This had a lot to do with national traditions as well as with the fact that there were no standardized boat types with uniform building instructions and measurements. Also a lot of development was done in the area of boat design and boat building. The shape of a boat, specifically its length, its weight and its sail area, are major parameters that determine the boat's speed. Several initiatives were started to create a formula that made it possible to have boats race each other without having to calculate the final result. But the different countries initially could not agree on an international system. At the Olympics of 1900 it was clear that sailing was not ready for international competition, and something had to be done.

In 1906 international meetings were organize to solve the problem. Finally in Paris, October 1907 the first International Rule was ratified. Delegates from this meeting went on to form the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), the precursor to the present International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

The agreed formula gives a result in meters (Metre). During the meeting in 1907 the IOC made the decision to open the 1908 Summer Olympics for the following Metre classes:

Class Type Venue Event Sailors First OG Olympics so far
6 Metre Keelboat Ryde Cercle noir 100%.svg 3 1908 1
7 Metre Keelboat Ryde Cercle noir 100%.svg 4 1908 1
8 Metre Keelboat Ryde Cercle noir 100%.svg 5 1908 1
12 Metre Keelboat Hunters Quay Cercle noir 100%.svg 10 1908 1
15 Metre Keelboat No show Cercle noir 100%.svg Unknown 1908 0
Legend: Cercle noir 100%.svg = Mixed gender event
The 1908 Olympic Classes in action

Race schedule[edit]

Source: [1]

 ●  Event competitions  ●  Event finals
Date July August
Total gold medals 3 1

Medal summary[edit]

Event Gold Silver Bronze
6 Metre insigna.png

1908: 6 Metre

 Great Britain (GBR)
Gilbert Laws
Thomas McMeekin
Charles Crichton
 Belgium (BEL)
Léon Huybrechts
Louis Huybrechts
Henri Weewauters
 France (FRA)
Henri Arthus
Louis Potheau
Pierre Rabot
7 Metre insigna.png

1908: 7 Metre

 Great Britain (GBR)
Charles Rivett-Carnac
Norman Bingley
Richard Dixon
Frances Rivett-Carnac
The second competitor failed to make it to the start. No further competition
8 Metre insigna.png

1908: 8 Metre

 Great Britain (GBR)
Blair Cochrane
Charles Campbell
John Rhodes
Henry Sutton
Arthur Wood
 Sweden (SWE)
Carl Hellström
Edmund Thormählen
Eric Sandberg
Erik Wallerius
Harald Wallin
The Duchess of Westminster
 Great Britain (GBR)
Philip Hunloke
Alfred Hughes
Frederick Hughes
George Ratsey
William Ward
12 Metre insigna.png

1908: 12 Metre[1]

 Great Britain (GBR)
T. C. Glen-Coats (helmsman)
J. H. Downes (mate)
J. S. Aspin
John Buchanan
J. C. Bunten
A. D. Downes
David Dunlop
John Mackenzie
Albert Martin
Gerald Tait
 Great Britain (GBR)
C. MacIver (helmsman)
J. G. Kenion (mate)
J. M. Adam
James Baxter
W. P. Davidson
J. F. Jellico
T. A. R. Littledale
C. R. MacIver
C. Macleod Robertson
J. F. D. Spence
No further competition

Medal table[edit]

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Great Britain (GBR) 4 1 1 6
2  Belgium (BEL) 0 1 0 1
 Sweden (SWE) 0 1 0 1
4  France (FRA) 0 0 1 1
Total 4 3 2 9


  • This Olympic sailing event was gender independent, however only two women, Frances Rivett-Carnac in the 7 Metre, and the Duchess of Westminster as extra on her 8 Metre, participated. The duchess of Westminster also distributed the diplomas of special merit to the competitors of the other Olympic sports on 25 July 1908. Gender specific events however had to wait until 1988.
  • The matches at Ryde were held in light air conditions.
  • All members of a team had to be a citizen of the country they represent. However the boats used did not have to be built in the same country that the team was representing since the Olympic games are considered a test of skills and handling for the team and not a test of the yacht. This in contrast with the matches for the America's cup of that time.
  • A second 7 Metre yacht Mignonette was entered under command of Capt. R. Sloane-Stanley but failed to make it to the starting line.
  • At the end of the official report the following suggestion was made:

    It has been suggested that in the yacht racing of future Olympic Games it might be better to select a fleet of “one-design” boats in the waters where the Games are held, and let all the crews entered draw lots for them every day, with the proviso that no crew should have the same boat twice.

    Sailing had to wait until 1920 before the first "one-design" class was selected for the Games.

Other information[edit]

During the Sailing regattas at the 1908 Summer Olympics among others the following persons were competing in the various classes:

People at the 1908 Olympic regattas
Johan Anker 
Duchess of Westminster 
William Dudley Ward 
Crew of Cobweb 
Race committee of the Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club 

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cook, Theodore Andrea (1908). The Fourth Olympiad, Being the Official Report (PDF). London: British Olympic Association. pp. 339–354. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Royal Victoria Yacht Club". Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 

"London 1908". International Olympic Committee.