The athletes who helped create Australian Sailing’s proud and successful history will be formally recognised with a uniquely numbered alumni pin, named in honour of the boat which sailed to Australia’s first Olympic sailing gold medal.
The Barranjoey Pin, in the tradition of cricket’s Baggy Green cap, is an embodiment of the great traditions and values of those who have competed and continue to compete at the highest level* for Australia in sailing. It will be launched publicly at a media event at Sydney's Australian National Maritime Museum on Tuesday, June 5.
The pins, to be presented this year at events around the country, are named after the 5.5m class yacht that was sailed to victory by Bill Northam, Peter O’Donnell and James Sargeant at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. They are designed by Tony Dean at Medal Art Mint, who has extensive experience creating commemorative coins, medals and pins, including the Rowing Australia alumni McVilly-Pearce Pin.
“You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been,” Australian Sailing President Matt Allen said.
“That’s why presenting these wonderful Barranjoey Pins is such an important step, following on from the establishment of the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame last year.
“Both initiatives should provide us not only with an appropriate and formal mode of recognising those who performed so well for Australia in the past, but also help us forge a continuing tradition of success and pride in sailing for Australia well into the future.”
More about the history of Bill Northam and the Barranjoey
In 1963 aged 58, Bill Northam set himself the challenge of competing in the Olympic Games. He travelled to the United States, where he arranged for naval architect Bill Luders Jr. to design and build him a yacht, which was named Barranjoey after the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse near Northam's Sydney home. With fellow yachtsmen Peter O’Donnell and James Sargeant, both more than 30 years younger than him, Northam took Barranjoey to a successful run in the 1964 Australian titles, the Olympic trials and further challenge races, until the team qualified for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Despite misgivings about Northam's age, now 59 Northam marched in the opening ceremony with his son Rod, who was a reserve member of the rowing team.
The Australian team competed in the 5.5 metre class, starting well with wins in the first, fourth and sixth races. They were disqualified in the fifth race. Northam's main rival, the yacht Bingo skippered by American author John J. McNamara won the second and third races, and McNamara would have taken the gold medal if Bingo won the final race and Barrenjoey finished fifth or worse. In a fierce race for first place against Swedish boat Rush VII, McNamara was disqualified, and Northam and his crew finished fourth, qualifying them for the gold medal. It was Australia's first Olympic gold for sailing, and Northam remains the oldest Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.
In order to be eligible to receive the Barranjoey Pin, athletes must either have:
- Competed for Australia in an Olympic boat class1 at a World Championship, IYRU Women’s World Championship or Paralympic World Championship and placed Top 10 at that event.
- Competed for Australia at the Olympic or Paralympic Games in sailing.
- Achieved Australian Sailing Team (AST) status in an Olympic boat class following its inception in 2006.
1the boat class must have been a current Olympic boat class at the time of competing (i.e. Elliott 6m was only in for the 2012 Olympic Games, therefore someone who competed in this event outside the years of 2009-2012 would not be eligible).
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