Past Olympian: Charles Currey (1916 - 2010) 

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It is with great sadness the RYA reports the passing of past British Olympic medallist, Charles Currey who died on 10 May 2010 at the grand age of 94, Charles Currey won Britain’s only sailing medal of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics...

 

Charles Currey won Britain’s only sailing medal of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, claiming Finn silver behind the great Dane Paul Elvstrom on what was the class’ Olympic debut. Charles lived in Chichester with his wife of 67 years, Bobbie. Bobbie, who attended the Helsinki Games as a helper for the sailing team, recounts their Olympic experience.

Interview with Charles Currey (1916 - 2010)

"It was the most wonderful thing to go to an Olympic Games, the achievement was making the Games and it really was about the taking part not the winning that mattered. That said Charles was very, very keen and wanted to do well"

"He had missed out on being selected for the 1948 London Olympics, which he was very annoyed about, so from the moment he started sailing Finns he was determined to get to an Olympics. From 1946 he was working for Fairey Marine in Hamble, where he worked for 30 years, and they started producing Finns and he just sailed and sailed. There were not all that many Finns to be competitive with in this country, just a handful, and in those days you didn’t really go abroad to compete but he had done a lot of racing in International 14s and Fireflies so he had a lot of racing experience"

"The people at the Games were very, very good but then Charles won a race and had a couple of 3rds and 4ths and before you knew it the points added up. He’d say to me each night that he knew who he had to beat in the next race or where he needed to finish so when he won the silver it was just an incredible thing and he was absolutely thrilled"

"When he won the medal we had three children all under the age of six. There was no such thing as funding although he did receive a couple of grants from Itchenor and Bosham sailing clubs, which were very welcome. You had to pay for everything yourself while there was no such thing as special sailing clothes, it was just a set of waxed oilskins and ordinary clothes. The cost of getting to the Games was covered and of course once we arrived everything was laid on for us"

"People had given up their houses for the sailors to stay in during the Games and we would have someone come in each morning and do breakfast for us and a car pick us up and take us to the boat park every day. I was one of three or four British wives at the sailing venue in Harmaja and we were all allowed to stay with our husbands throughout the competition. We did whatever needed doing from sewing Union Jacks on to their uniforms to helping get the boats ready and putting them on the water"

"When we returned to England Charles was invited all over the country to go to give lectures at sailing clubs about the Olympics. He really enjoyed it and was very good at it.  He did campaign for Melbourne 1956 in the International 12m2 Sharpie but he didn’t make it and was very, very upset as he had tried extremely hard.  He gave up after that and became an RYA Measurer for many classes and an International Finn class measurer.  Through this he met many of the British Finn sailors who have been so successful over the past decade. He also successfully took part in the Cowes-Torquay Powerboat Race every year after Fairey’s started producing motorboats. He was never interested in cruising or getting involved in big sailing boats"

"No Briton won another Finn Olympic medal until Iain Percy won gold at Sydney 2000 and when Iain won he rang Charles and said ‘I’ve beaten you at last!’ Iain is a lovely man and a great sailor and I would love to see both him and Ben Ainslie win again at London 2012. Ben is probably the best sailor we’ve had for many years and it would be a wonderful thing for him to win yet again"

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