, 2022-08-10 15:46:35,
Mark Paterson was a fierce competitor in everything he did but there was one fight he ultimately couldn’t win.
Paterson is being remembered after he died last week after a long battle with Huntington’s Disease. He was 73.
His death notice in the New Zealand Herald said he was, “now sailing the high seas, red wine in hand, and finally at peace”.
Paterson is best remembered for coming close to winning New Zealand’s third Olympic gold medal in sailing when he and crew Brett Bennett finished fifth in the 470 at the 1976 Montreal Olympics sailed at Lake Ontario.
The pair held a narrow lead going into the final day but a conservative start and costly capsize in the final race saw them finish 16th and slip down the standings. A top-13 finish would have seen them secure bronze.
Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed and a report in the DB Yachting Annual said “the 470 crew were the biggest surprise for New Zealand at Kingston”.
“Before the Olympics, in several regattas in the United States and Spain, they had shown glimpses of their potential, but in the pre-Olympic European Regatta, at Hyeres, their 27th place indicated that they would have to improve considerably before Kingston. At the conclusion of the seven-race series, Paterson and Bennett finished fifth. They could have won the gold medal.”
The pair were on track to push for a medal four years later, having won a pre-Olympic test event 12 months out from the 1980 Moscow Games, but never got that opportunity due to the widespread boycott by western nations.
Yachting broadcaster Peter Montgomery remembers Paterson as a prodigious talent.
“I remember telling him one day he was perhaps born half a generation or a generation too soon,” Montgomery said. “If he had been born in the era of the likes of the Coutts, Dicksons and Barkers of this world he could have been in that league because he was a real talent.
“He also worked very hard to realise that potential. To do what he did, against some red-hot sailors of the time, was fantastic.”
More like this
Paterson came to prominence as a young sailor when he completed the Tanner and Tauranga Cup double for P Class supremacy in 1961. The P Class was the pre-eminent junior boat from the 1950s-1980s, and success at the Tanner and Tauranga Cups was highly coveted.
Paterson nearly achieved the double three times, winning the Tanner Cup again in 1962 and 1963 and Tauranga Cup in 1963 but he was second behind…
To read the original article, go to Click here