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| Event type

One Person Dinghy (Laser), Open

Date23 – 31 July 1996
StatusOlympic
LocationWassaw Sound, Savannah, Georgia
Participants56 from 56 countries
FormatPoints awarded for placement in each race. Best nine of eleven scores to count for final placement.

The Laser class was designed in 1970 by Canadians Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce, who designed it as a “car-topped” dinghy, meaning one small enough that it could be transported on top of a car. In 1996 it was chosen for a mixed one-person dinghy event, although there were also one-person dinghy events for men (Finn) and women (Europe). There were 56 sailors in the class, but no women competed.

After 10 races Brazil’s Robert Scheidt had a slight lead on Britain’s Ben Ainslie, but the gold and silver were not yet fully decided. There were four false starts in the final race so the officials raised the black flag, meaning that any further false start would lead to a premature start and disqualification. On the fifth start Scheidt raced aggressively for the line and Ainslie had to follow. They both crossed the line early and were disqualified, giving Scheidt the gold medal.

The silver medal would not occur again for Ainslie. He won gold in this class in 2000 and then switched to Finn and won three consecutive golds in 2004, 2008, and 2012, making him only the second sailor to win four Olympic golds, after Denmark’s Paul Elvstrøm, who four straight golds in one-person dinghy from 1948-60.

The rivalry between Ainslie and Scheidt is one of the best ever at the Olympics, and in sailing. Scheidt won the silver medal in 2000 behind Ainslie, but won the Laser gold again in 2004 when Ainslie raced in the Finn class. By 2008 Scheidt had switched to the Star class, winning a silver medal that year and a bronze in 2012. Through 2014, Ainslie had also won eight World Championships but he was topped by Scheidt, who could claim 12. After the 2012 Olympics, both had five Olympic sailing medals, a record only matched by Scheidt’s countryman Torben Grael, who also raced at Savannah in 1996, winning gold in the Star class.

PosCompetitor(s)NOCNet PointsTP
1Robert ScheidtBRA26.092.0Gold
2Ben AinslieGBR37.0122.0Silver1
3Peer MobergNOR46.078.0Bronze
4Michael BlackburnAUS48.092.0
5Stefan WarkallaGER54.0126.0
6John HarryssonSWE55.0108.0
7Vasco SerpaPOR74.0147.0
8Thomas JohansonFIN78.0111.0
9Santiago LangeARG79.0159.0
10Hamish PepperNZL84.0162.0
11Mark LyttleIRL88.0202.0
12Francesco BruniITA90.0171.0
13Serge KatsNED98.0212.0
14Franz UrlesbergerAUT122.0175.0
15Guillaume FlorentFRA136.0218.0
16Dave HibberdRSA138.0198.0
17Jens EckardtDEN142.0230.0
18Philippe BergmansBEL144.0197.0
19Luis EcheniqueCHI158.0246.0
20Aliaksandr ZelenovskiBLR163.0229.0
21Nick AdamsonUSA164.0278.0
22Antón GarroteESP172.0265.0
23Kim Ho-GonKOR173.0240.0
24Peter ŠaraškinEST176.0239.0
25Robert HirstIVB192.0263.0
26Rod DaviesCAN194.0279.0
27Dimitrios TheodorakisGRE203.0264.0
28Tomoyuki SasakiJPN212.0285.02
29Andrey KirilyukRUS212.0280.0
30Ricardo FabiniURU216.0311.03
31Tamás EszesHUN234.0348.0
32Cao XiaoboCHN241.0311.0
33Antonio GoetersMEX265.0350.0
34Paul DielemansAHO267.0366.0
35Rodion LukaUKR274.0375.04
36Ben TanSGP284.0382.0
37Kevin LimMAS300.0389.0
38Allan JulieSEY305.0409.0
39John van Batenburg StaffordCAY318.0415.0
40Alp AlpagutTUR328.0409.0
41John TaboneMLT337.0432.05
42Malcolm SmithBER338.0429.0
43Karl JamesANT340.0446.0
44Brett ChiversGUM340.0435.0
45Michael GreenLCA342.0428.0
46Yang FungHKG357.0451.0
47Robert DunkleyBAH379.0473.0
48Horia IspașROU394.0508.0
49Khalifa Al-HitmiQAT397.0511.0
50Gastón VedaniECU399.0506.0
51Mohamed Al-SadaBRN429.0543.06
52Rodney ReaderBAR444.0558.07
53Constantino ScarpettaPAR450.0564.08
54Tiko CrofootFIJ463.0577.0
55Mohamed YoussefDJI469.0583.09
56Luca BelluzziSMR477.0591.010