Conn Findlay, Four-Time Olympic Medalist and Member of Two Victorious America Cup Crews Dies at 90
Findlay rowed at the University of Southern California as a senior in the 1953-54 season and was USC’s oldest living Olympic gold medalist.
SAN MATEO—On April 14 Associated Press reported Conn Findlay, a four-time Olympic medalist, died in a care facility in Northern California at 90. Mike Sullivan, a longtime friend of Findlay who coaches club rowing at UC Irvine, told AP Findlay died April 8 in San Mateo.
Findlay was one of the few competitors to medal in two distinct sports, rowing and sailing. Findlay won gold medals in the coxed pair rowing events at the 1956 Melbourne and 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and a bronze at the 1960 Rome Games. At the 1976 Summer Olympics sailing events, Findlay crewed for Dennis Conner to win a bronze medal in the Tempest two-man keelboat class.
Findlay was also part of the winning America’s Cup sailing teams, as a crew leader, in 1974, Courageous, Ted Hood, and 1977, Courageous, Ted Turner. From 1974 to 1986 he was a member of the team on the winning Maxi Ocean Racer, Windward Passage.
“Conn’s greatness as an athlete and as a friend was his utter self-reliance,” said Ed Ferry and Kent Mitchell, Findlay’s partners in the 1964 Olympic Gold Medal Coxed Pair, in an online tribute posted on row2k.com. “He was a self-starter and a self-finisher… never asked anyone for help… did it himself… his way.”
Findlay rowed at the University of Southern California as a senior in the 1953-54 season. He is regarded as USC’s greatest rower, according to an April 10 article on the University of Southern California Athletics’ website. He later earned an MBA from UC Berkeley.
AP reported he went on to serve as freshman rowing coach at Stanford and became varsity coach in 1959, holding that position for several years. He later operated a boat leasing business, according to AP.
Findlay was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in 1968 and 2000 and named US Rowing’s Man of the Year in 2007.
Findlay is a 2021 National Sailing Hall of Fame nominee, put up for induction by National Sailing Hall of Famer Robbie Doyle. Doyle said in his nomination no matter what program Findlay was in, he was the glue that held everyone together.
“He always kept it positive, he didn’t dwell on the negative,” stated Doyle in his nomination. “When things would get crazy, he would quietly come up with solutions. He never brought his ego to the boat; he could get the best out [of] everyone, no matter how dire the circumstances.”