Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Basin, Notre Dame Island, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 18, 1976
Date Finished: July 25, 1976
The East Germans were the reigning Olympic and World Champions in the coxed pairs and sent Harald Jährling, Friedrich-Wilhelm Ulrich, and Georg Spohr to compete in Montreal. Although they were the favorites, it was expected that they would encounter challenges from the Soviet Union, who had been the final European champions (the tournament was discontinued in 1973) and 1974 World Champions, and who were represented by Dmitry Bekhterev, Yury Shurkalov, and bronze medalist in the 1968 Olympic eights Yury Lorentsson at the 1976 Games. The Czechoslovakian entry contained two of the 1972 Olympic runners-up, brothers Oldřich and Pavel Svojanovský, as well as Ludvík Vébr, while the Italian entry boasted Primo Baran, one of the 1968 Olympic champions.
In a surprise upset the Bulgarian crew, Rumen Khristov, Tsvetan Petkov, and Todor Kishev, won its opening heat ahead of East Germany and the Soviet Union with the best time of the round. The entries from France, Jean-Claude Coucardon, Yves Fraisse, and Antoine Gambert, and Czechoslovakia took the other heats. Bulgaria defeated the Soviets again in the semi-finals, this time in Olympic record time, while the East Germans won their slower heat ahead of the Czechoslovakians. In the final, however, it was the Soviets who shone for most of the race, but they were passed by the East Germans in the latter portion of the course and never caught up, settling for silver as Jährling, Ulrich, and Spohr took gold. Czechoslovakia took an easy bronze medal shortly thereafter while the Bulgarians, having faltered, did not arrive until almost eight seconds later.