An Official
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Sailing Federation
Olympic Games
5 - 21 August 2016

The History of Olympic Sailing

Sailing History at the Olympic Games

Sailing was first contested at the 1900 Olympic Games, made its next Olympic appearance in 1908 and has been on every Olympic programme since that year. It is one of the oldest sports on the Olympic programme and its Olympic history is littered with many heroes including some of the sporting world's great figures.

The Basics

In the early Olympic Games, sailing was dominated by bigger boats, sometimes with as many as 10-12 sailors, and time handicaps were used to adjudicate the races. Starting from 1924 and increasingly from the 1950s onwards, the trend has been towards smaller and smaller one-design boats with fewer crew members. In the last 20 years, equipment trials have resulted in several new boats reflecting the latest developments in the sport.

During the 2008 Beijing Games, only one event had a three-person crew (Yngling), with five events contested by lone sailors. Currently the line up of boats is a mixture between classes with a long and distinguished history, like the Star and the Finn, and those reflecting the design and technology advances in the sport, such as the 49er.

Women have always been allowed to compete in Olympic sailing with men, but in 1988, separate sailing events were introduced exclusively for women. The Olympic sailing programme in 2008 consisted of men's, women's and open events.

In effect, sailing made its Olympic debut in Sydney, as it became the first Olympic sport to make a name change. The sport had always been called yachting in the past.

Sailing's history at each of the Olympic Games

Use our Olympic history section to can find out more about sailing at the Olympic Games through the ages, simply use the icon menu above to pick and choose a games of your choice.

Medal Tally
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