40 years since the beginning of the Olympic sailing regatta in Tallinn


At 16:22 on 20 July, exactly 40 years will have passed since the moment when sailor Vaiko Vooremaa, 17 at the time, lit the Olympic flame for the sailing programme of the 22nd Olympic Games in Tallinn. The sailing regatta took place between 22 July and 2 August in Pirita.

How did Tallinn become an Olympic host city?

On 14 September 1971, the Olympic Committee of the Soviet Union approved the Moscow government’s proposal to apply for hosting the organisation of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games. A couple of weeks later, Tallinn city government decided to apply for the regatta city status for the capital of Estonia. That, of course, in case Moscow were to be chosen to  host the Olympic Games.

The management of the International Sailing Federation first discussed holding the regatta in Tallinn in the spring of 1974. In addition to Tallinn, other candidates were Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) Sochi, Sevastopol and Tuapse. What gave Tallinn a competitive advantage were a bay suitable for sailing and the city’s previous experience of holding the Baltic Regattas.

Namely, there are no interfering currents in Tallinn Bay while Naissaar and Aegna islands protect the bay from high-sea waves. The bay is about 30–40 metres deep, with a sandy bottom and flat shore.  The racing distances were rather close to the sailing centre.

Between 21 and 25 October, the International Olympic Committee held a meeting in Vienna to decide on the venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Another city to have applied in addition to Moscow as Los Angeles, but a secret voting held on 23 October 1974, the members of the Olympic Committee selected Moscow.


The sailing regatta of the 22nd Olympic Games was held from 22 July to 2 August in Pirita, Tallinn. The sailing regatta in six boat classes was held in Tallinn Bay, and the boat class with the most participants, athletes from 21 countries, was Finn. Only 23 countries (156 athletes on 83 boats) in total took part in the regatta, 17 of which were competing under their own flags. Medals were won by the participants from 12 countries.

The chairman of the regatta organising committee was Arnold Green. The opening and closing ceremonies, which took place at Tallinn Olympic Sailing Centre, were directed by Mikk Mikiver. The mascot of the Tallinn sailing regatta was the sela pup Vigri, the first mascot of a specific sport in the history of the Olympic Games to differ from the main mascot of the Games, bear Mishka. The idea of the name “Vigri” is attributed to a man from Saaremaa.

Photo:   Eesti Spordi- ja Olümpiamuuseum SA