Bruce Banks

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameBernard Bruce•Banks
Used nameBruce•Banks
Born5 April 1918 in Birkenhead, England (GBR)
Died7 April 1984 in Portsmouth, England (GBR)
AffiliationsItchenor Sailing Club, West Itchenor (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Although he was an internationally recognised yachtsman, it was as a sailmaker that Bruce Banks became better known in later life. The son of a jeweller, Banks started racing dinghies before World War II in National 12s and National 14s. He won the Sir William Burton Trophy in 1939 and 1950 in his 12-footer and was four times the winner of the Prince of Wales’s Cup in his 14-foot dinghy between 1950-55. He was regarded as one of the best British helmsmen of the era and was a reserve for the Firefly class at the 1948 Olympics in Torbay. Banks got his chance to appear at the Olympics in 1952 when he partnered Stanley Potter in the two-person Star class. Their boat Fortuna finished 13th. Four years later, the same pair improved to finish eighth in Starlight III. Also in 1956, Banks took part in the inaugural Finn World Championship at Burnham and, despite winning the last race, finished eighth overall.

Banks trained as a civil engineer and in turn founded his own sail-making company, Bruce Banks Sails Limited, in 1961, and he sought to design the perfect sail. The company soon got a reputation and their sails were used for anything upward from dinghies to 12-metre vessels. Banks later became chairman of the British Sailmakers’ Association and also served on the technical committee of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

Banks lost his life when his car crashed on the M27 in Hampshire and he died at the Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. An inquest two months later revealed he had fallen asleep after going into a diabetic coma. He was on his way home after competing in, and winning, a regatta. Unfortunately, at the time of the accident, Banks had made plans to shortly retire from his business.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Sailing GBR Bruce Banks
Two Person Keelboat, Open (Olympic) Stanley Potter 13
1956 Summer Olympics Sailing GBR Bruce Banks
Two Person Keelboat, Open (Olympic) Stanley Potter 7

Special Notes