Jack Cropp was one of the early big figures in New Zealand yachting. He and Peter Mander were New Zealand’s first Olympic yachting representatives and they turned that debut appearance, at Melbourne in 1956, into a memorable occasion by winning the gold medal in the Sharpie class.
At the Olympics, the New Zealanders, sailing Jest, recorded placings of 2-1-5-4-1-1-2, but even with those results their gold medal triumph could not have been closer. Australians Roly Tasker and Malcolm Scott looked to have shaded them for the gold after the final race, and the New Zealanders went off to celebrate their silver.
Then came word that the French had protested the Australians for obstruction and a few hours later the protest jury upheld the protest. When the points were recalculated after the Australian team was disqualified from the last race, the New Zealanders and Australians finished with the same number of points. Cropp and Mander won the gold because they had scored more first-place finishes.
Cropp began life on a small farm at Kowhitirangi, near Hokitika. His family moved to McCormick’s Bay, Christchurch when he was just a toddler and he developed his love of sailing there. He attended Sumner School.
Cropp trained and worked as a lithographer in the printing industry, then became a professional boat-builder and shipwright. Later he moved into design as well, and not just sailing boats, but power boats, too.
By the mid-1950s Cropp was Commodore of the Canterbury Yacht and Motor Boat Club ands he remained Commodore or Vice-Commodore until the 1970s.
In 1973 Cropp, his wife Judith and their three children moved to Takaka, in the Golden Bay region.
Cropp and Mander were inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.