Lee’s Olympic boat returns to the island

  • Howard Lee was one of Bermuda’s outstanding sailors
  • Rockal Evans has donated his grandfather’s Olympic craft to the National Museum of Bermuda
  • Howard Lee’s Finn dinghy will soon go on display at the National Museum of Bermuda
  • Howard Lee’s Finn dinghy will soon go on display at the National Museum of Bermuda

The original Finn dinghy used by Bermudian sailing legend Howard Lee at the 1976 Montreal Olympics has returned to the island.

The boat travelled from Canada to Florida before it was transported to Bermuda.

Mr Lee’s grandson, Rockal Evans, who aims to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in the same single-handed Finn class that Mr Lee competed in, has donated the historic craft to the National Museum of Bermuda.

Mr Evans stumbled across the dinghy when he sailed in his first international regatta in Ontario, 40 years after his grandfather took part in the 1976 summer Games.

He was approached at the regatta by a man who had bought the Finn after the Olympics.

The man offered to sell the dinghy to Mr Evans and drive it from Canada to Florida so it could be shipped to Bermuda.

After months of work, and with the help of Howard Pitcher from Somers Isles Shipping Line and Nick and Toby Kempe of Bermuda Forwarders, the dinghy arrived in Bermuda in late December.

Elena Strong, executive director of the national museum said, “We are thrilled to be given the dinghy, which not only represents Bermuda’s Olympic sailing history and celebrates a local sailing legend, but it is accompanied with a serendipitous acquisition story linking two generations of Bermudian sailors.

“NMB wishes Rockal the best of luck in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.”

Mr Lee, who died in 2012, was one of Bermuda’s best sailors and was hailed as a great ambassador for his country.

He began competitive sailing at the age of 13 and enjoyed a distinguished career.

He became the first black sailor to represent Bermuda in the Olympics and was also a popular entertainer and musician.

Mr Lee also competed in the Comet, Sunfish, and Laser boat classes.

He became only the fourth skipper to win back-to-back Long Distance Comet Races in 1956-57.

The Finn dinghy was designed in 1949 by Rickard Sarby and first used as a racing class in the Olympics in 1952.

It is the longest-serving dinghy in the Olympic regatta and regarded as the world’s premier dinghy for both tactical and technical single-handed sailing.

The museum plans to put the dinghy on display in the museum’s Boat Loft in the near future.