|With Ants Väinsalu at the 2013 Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn|
L-R: Victor Potapov, Alexander Tšutšelov and
Alexander Tšutšelov, the Finn silver medalist at 1960 Rome Olympics passed away on New Year’s day, aged 83. He was a respected sailing champion, with seven Estonian national titles to his name, former head coach of the Estonian national team and an honorary member of ESS Kalev Yacht Club.
Alexander Tšutšelov was born in Tallinn on 26 April 1933. His father and uncles Dimitri, Andrei and Nikolai were already successful sailors before the war and taught him to sail. He has always been known by the nickname, Šurka, and began sailing in 1946 in the Olympic and Ersh classes, before moving into the Finn.
After high school graduation in 1953, he entered the Tallinn Polytechnic Institute to study shipbuilding, before going to work in a factory building racing sailboats.
Tšutšelov became a member of the Kalev Yacht Club, in Tallinn, when the club was formed in 1948. A talented and hard-working sailor, by the age of 27 he had won a place in the USSR national team at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Only being beaten by the legendary Dane Paul Elvstrøm, he took the silver medal in the Finn.
In a very difficult political and sporting atmosphere he also fought for a place in the 1964 Tokyo Games squad, but unfortunately the mental and physical tension of qualification left its mark, and in Japan he could only finish in 12th place.
He went to Kiel in 1972 as a spare helm, and then campaigned a Soling for 1976, but finished as runner-up in the trials. However during this time he also acheived many international successes. Tšutšelov won a total of eight medals, including three gold. He was also Estonian champion seven times.
He later shared his rich experience with many sailors as head coach of Estonian national team during Soviet times, as well as developing a training programme.
Alexander Tšutšelovi made a huge contribution to the ESS Kalev Yacht Club and Estonian sailing and will always be remembered.
In 2009 he wrote the following for the Finn class book ‘Photo FINNish’.
“We sailed many regattas each year and often met with other sailors. We knew the results and peculiar qualities of each other but we didn’t exchange information or train with foreigners. The members of the USSR National team received a stipendium from the government. New equipment was available for those that improved and won prizes.
Each Finn class sailor was a purposeful individual, and they would spend all their physical and mental energy to win. From the Finn I learned to be purposeful and strong, I learned how to overcome problems and I learned to love sailing with all its difficulties and beauty.
The most interesting regatta for me was the Olympic regatta in Naples in 1960, because all my opponents were interesting and technically strong. I had qualified for Naples on the National regattas and USSR Championships results, but I had to pluck up my courage because I had a great desire to win. I put a lot of physical and mental energy into preparing for that regatta.
There were 35 Finn class sailors that came to the starting line in Naples. The first race was a failure for me. I got a false start and only finished seventh. Fortunately I won the second race. Nelis of Belgium, Conrad of Brazil and Stratton from the UK followed me in that race and my main opponent Elvstrøm could only manage fifth.
I still remember each race results 7, 1, 2, 10, 17, 2, 8. I was not the only one who was pretending to be the Gold medalist, and that's why it was a very tough competition.”
IFA send its condelences to his family and friends.
Rest in peace, Aleksander Tšutšelov