Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD
Product Feature
NeilPryde Sailing Full Finger Amara Glove
NeilPryde Sailing Full Finger Amara Glove

Colin Smith: eight bells

by Jamie McWilliam 10 Oct 2018 07:49 BST
Colin Smith, sadly missed. © Jamie McWilliam

It is with sadness and yet real gratitude for his life that we report that Colin Smith, sailor, Olympian and coach extraordinaire, passed away in late September shortly after reaching his 90th birthday. He retained his great spirits all the way, and no doubt reported as usual that he is “delightful” when he arrived wherever he is now.

Colin was born in Adelaide in 1928 and learned to sail and build boats at Grange, where his early sailing experience included Heavyweight Sharpies and a stint as a bailer boy on a traditional 18 foot skiff. He then fell victim of the offshore addiction and Sydney Hobarts (9 of them, and 22+ Bass Strait crossings in total) and other long distance races around Australia became a feature for the family. In the 1960s the small boat bug returned, in the form of a Flying Dutchman in which he won the South Australian Champs with Graham Williams in 1968, and shortly thereafter, he moved to Hong Kong and represented the colony in the 1972 Munich Olympics in the Flying Dutchman class, with his lifelong mate Bill Steele.

In the 1980s Colin moved back to Australia where he took his coaching qualifications, and in 1982 was appointed Australian National Sailing Coach; he had instant success coaching the 1982 Fireball Class world champions Chris Tillett and Mike Rogers, amongst other international successes in 505s, 470s, and Lightweight Sharpies. He was the Australian Olympic sailing coach for the 470s and Finns that competed in Los Angeles in 1984 and in Seoul in 1988, and was the Grand Master Champion of the Tasar Class in Australia in 1991. After this, he returned to take care of unfinished business in Hong Kong, where he cruised his much-loved yacht “Rapid” on adventures all around Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, also managing to fit in a win of the China Sea Race with Henry Kaye.

In 1992 he returned to coaching as the National Coach of Hong Kong, where he met and married Mei Han Cheung who was to be his partner for the rest of his life. Colin coached the HK team (including Mei Han, Chun Mei Tung, Fajai Chan and Andy Service) at the 1996 Olympics, and continued coaching Hong Kong sailors for the next 20 years, across Asian Games and World Championships in 420s, 470s, and Etchells.

It is possibly in the Etchells Class that he will be best remembered around the world, as an energetic and enthusiastic coach with time for everybody no matter where they finished. He had an amazing gift for being able to spot something from off the boat and comment on it relative to other boats’ setups, and to communicate thoughts and advice in a way that was unerringly helpful without being interfering. His eye for detail was tremendous. For the last years he was a regular feature on the committee boat at the RHKYC, snapping photos at starts and during the race and sharing them with the fleet for discussion afterwards. The HK Fleet annual award for the Most Improved boat will from now on be the Colin Smith Trophy.

Although sailing was a huge part of Colin’s life, he was also a highly valued communications technician at work, and was a much-loved Dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather, building Oppies for the kids, teaching them to swim, and taking them on sailing adventures.

Colin was adored by his friends and family, respected by his competitors, and revered by his disciples. We will all sorely miss him.

Related Articles

Musto iconic logo tees
To commemorate Keith Musto's 1964 Olympic Silver medal win in Tokyo 100% cotton jersey tee features a ribbed collar and an exclusive FD K93 graphic on the back and a large format sailing graphic across the chest. Posted on 4 Jul
1959 Flying Dutchman Worlds video
Incredible archive footage from Whitstable YC, now including the full report! In the 1950's, Whitstable Yacht Club Rear Commodore 'Slotty' Dawes introduced the first of the new Olympic trapeze dinghies, the Flying Dutchman, into the United Kingdom. Posted on 3 May
Grab your moment in Musto history
An iconic tee celebration silver medal success at the 1964 Olympics Keith Musto sailed to silver medal success at the 1964 Olympics. To commemorate this fantastic achievement, Musto have captured this history in an iconic tee. Posted on 19 Apr
Kiel Week day 4
Hunger quenches his thirst for a 22nd title The international classes concluded the first half of Kiel Week today, with a German legend winning the 505 title after a few years in the wilderness. It was searingly hot in Kiel-Schilksee today, with temperatures touching over 30 degrees. Posted on 25 Jun 2019
Kiel Week day 3
Lining up for some tense showdowns Germany's world-famous regatta has been delivering some sensational sailing conditions this week, as the international classes complete their penultimate day of competition. Posted on 24 Jun 2019
Kiel Week day 2
75 races in dream-like conditions Kiel Week probably needs to hold back, otherwise it might be running out of superlatives. After the perfect Saturday, a Sunday of champagne sailing did follow. And this trend is supposed to go on. Posted on 24 Jun 2019
FD Worlds in New Zealand overall
Hungarian team wins in 41-boat fleet The last two days of racing for the 2019 Flying Dutchman World Championships wrapped up on Thursday. A Hungarian crew confirmed their status as the world's best Flying Dutchman sailors when they won their 13th World title in Nelson Posted on 24 Feb 2019
FD Worlds in New Zealand after day 3
Szabolcs Majthenyi and András Domokos lead The first three days of the Flying Dutchman World Championships have been completed. The results are close at the top of the leader board with Hun 70 (Szabolcs Majthenyi and András Domokos) leading on 7 points with GER 88 (Kay-Uwe Lüdtke and Kai Schäfers) Posted on 19 Feb 2019
Kindly Leave the Stage
What happens to ex-Olympic classes? The Carnival is over...but the Show must go on! These comparisons with a circus have never been stronger, all the more now that the Finn has been told to "kindly leave the stage", with the Olympic Regatta at Enoshima bringing an end to 72 years service. Posted on 3 Dec 2018
Vintage Yachting Games preview
Copenhagen to host ex-Olympic classes next week The fourth edition of the Vintage Yachting Games takes place in Copenhagen from 16-22 September 2018. The Vintage Yachting Games provide an opportunity for a high-level international regatta for the classes which were once Olympic Games equipment. Posted on 15 Sep 2018