Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates has led the tributes for Bob Oatley, who has died at the age of 87 following an illness.
Oatley bought four 470 class sailboats for the Australian team ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympics and provided one of his buildings in Sydney to Yachting Australia, rent free for three-years, to use as their headquarters.
He was also one of eight original members of the Australian Sailing Team Patrons’ Programme, which provided significant funds direct to the Olympic sailors for their campaign.
The support was crucial to the sailors leaving the Games with two gold and one silver medal.
For London 2012, the programme raised over AUD$1million (£480,000/$700,000/€640,000) to allow sailors to participate in international regattas and spend time preparing at the Olympic venue in Weymouth, which helped the team to record the country’s best ever sailing result of three golds and one silver.
“Yachting Australia and the Australian Olympic Team are hugely indebted to Bob for his contribution to sailing and our Olympic effort” said Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice-present.
“His drive has paved the way for our excellent results in sailing at the 2008 Games in Beijing and again at London in 2012.
“A keen sailor all his life, all this was a labour of love for Bob.”
Oatley, who established the Rosemount winery and had a personal worth of $910 million (£626 million/€836 million), was also a keen supporter of youth sailing in the country.
He was also well-known as the owner of the Wild Oats XI yacht, which won the Sydney to Hobart race a record eight times.