Conn Findlay, a four-time Olympic medalist in the sports of rowing and sailing and a member of two winning America’s Cup crews, has died. He was 90.
He died Thursday at a care facility in the Northern California city of San Mateo, according to Mike Sullivan, a longtime friend who coaches club rowing at UC Irvine. Findlay had been in declining health and died just short of his 100th birthday on April 24.
Findlay won gold medals in the coxed pair rowing event at the 1956 Melbourne and 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and a bronze in the event at the 1960 Rome Games. At Montreal in 1976, he competed in sailing and earned a bronze medal in the tempest two-man keelboat class event, crewing for Dennis Conner.
“Conn always raced from behind, tracking the leaders and rowing them down by the finish line,” said Ed Kent, who teamed with Findlay at the 1960 and ‘64 Games. “Though competitors knew this and dreaded his finishing assaults, Conn once told me, ‘I never reached the halfway point in a race without serious doubts that I could finish.'”
Findlay was part of the winning America’s Cup crews in 1974 and 1977. The second victory in sailing’s marquee regatta included Ted Turner as the skipper of the yacht Courageous.
“He was larger than life,” Sullivan told The Associated Press. “There wasn’t enough life for him.”
In rowing, Findlay won a gold at the 1963 Pan American Games in coxed pair and placed fifth in the event at the 1962 world championships.
He was named US Rowing’s Man of the Year in 2007.
Findlay rowed at Southern California as a senior in 1953-54. He later earned an MBA from UC Berkeley.
He also served as freshmen rowing coach at Stanford and became varsity coach in 1959 for several years. He was responsible for building the original boathouse on the Palo Alto campus.
Findlay was inducted into several Halls of Fame: US Rowing, US Sailing, Stanford and USC.
After coaching, he ran a boat leasing business and officiated rowing regattas.
Findlay wed for the first time when he and Luella Anderson were both in their 60s. They traveled widely and bought and restored a boat that they sailed on. She died two years ago.
A memorial is planned for later this year.