Sailing

Facts

Discipline of Sailing
Participants 4480
NOCs 120
Competitions held 185 (Venues)
Distinct events 46
IF World Sailing

Description

Sailing as a competitive sport was called yachting until the 21st century. The international federation, now World Sailing, changed the sport’s competitive name in an attempt to limit the elitist connotation associated with the term “yachting”. The sport has been termed yachting at the Olympics through 1996 and sailing, in effect, made its Olympic début in 2000 at Sydney.

Yachting actually began as a form of sailing, which has been practiced since antiquity as a means of transport. In the modern sense, yachting probably originated in the Netherlands, and the word seems to come from the Dutch “jacht” (for hunting), which was originally used for fast, light ships.

Sailing as a sport was brought to England by King Charles II about 1660 after his exile to Holland. International yacht racing began in 1851 when a syndicate of members of the New York Yacht Club built a 101-foot schooner named America. The yacht was sailed to England where it won a trophy called the Hundred Guineas Cup in a race around the Isle of Wight under the auspices of the Royal Yacht Squadron. The trophy was renamed The America’s Cup, after the yacht, not after the United States, as is commonly thought.

Sailing has been governed worldwide by the World Sailing (WS), formerly the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) and International Sailing Federation (ISAF), which was formed on 14 October 1907 in Paris. As of 2020 the WS has 133 member nations.

Sailing was first contested at the 1900 Olympic Games. It made its next Olympic appearance in 1908 and has been on every Olympic Program since that year. Sailing has had a very varied program that is usually changed every few Olympiads as the popularity of various boats waxes and wanes. Women have always been allowed to compete in Olympic sailing with men, and the first woman to compete in the Olympics was a sailor, in 1900. In 1988, separate sailing events exclusively for women were introduced, and as of 2008 only three sailing events allowed mixed crews. In 1984, the popular sport of boardsailing was also added to the Olympic Program, and a separate boardsailing event for women was placed on the program for the first time in 1992.

The current sailing program has events for both men, women, and open crews. The classes fit into certain categories, including a windsurfing class, one-person dinghies, two-person dinghies, two- and three-person keelboats, skiffs, and multihull boats; however, the exact type of boat within these categories may now vary from Olympics to Olympics.

Sailing is contested at the Olympics in a series of fleet races, with points awarded for the placement in each race. In 2008, the so-called Medal Race was added to make the sport more suitable for television: these races featured only the top 10 boats, and took only 30 minutes.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain GBR 27 20 11 58
United States USA 19 23 19 61
France FRA 17 12 19 48
Norway NOR 17 11 3 31
Spain ESP 13 5 1 19
Denmark DEN 12 9 9 30
Australia AUS 11 8 8 27
Sweden SWE 10 12 13 35
New Zealand NZL 9 7 6 22
Netherlands NED 7 9 7 23
Brazil BRA 7 3 8 18
Germany GER 4 5 6 15
Soviet Union URS 4 5 3 12
Austria AUT 3 4 1 8
Italy ITA 3 3 8 14
Greece GRE 3 2 3 8
Belgium BEL 2 4 3 9
People's Republic of China CHN 2 3 1 6
Finland FIN 2 2 7 11
West Germany FRG 2 2 3 7
East Germany GDR 2 2 2 6
Argentina ARG 1 4 5 10
Ukraine UKR 1 2 2 5
Switzerland SUI 1 2 1 4
Croatia CRO 1 1 0 2
Poland POL 1 0 3 4
Israel ISR 1 0 2 3
The Bahamas BAH 1 0 1 2
Hong Kong, China HKG 1 0 0 1
Canada CAN 0 3 6 9
Portugal POR 0 2 2 4
Slovenia SLO 0 2 1 3
Ireland IRL 0 2 0 2
Russian Federation RUS 0 1 2 3
Japan JPN 0 1 1 2
Cuba CUB 0 1 0 1
Cyprus CYP 0 1 0 1
Czech Republic CZE 0 1 0 1
Lithuania LTU 0 1 0 1
Netherlands Antilles AHO 0 1 0 1
United States Virgin Islands ISV 0 1 0 1
Estonia EST 0 0 2 2
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1

Youth Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 2 2 0 4
Singapore SGP 2 0 1 3
Argentina ARG 2 0 0 2
Austria AUT 1 0 0 1
Dominican Republic DOM 1 0 0 1
Greece GRE 1 0 0 1
Israel ISR 1 0 0 1
People's Republic of China CHN 1 0 0 1
Thailand THA 1 0 0 1
United States Virgin Islands ISV 1 0 0 1
France FRA 0 3 1 4
Netherlands NED 0 2 2 4
Russian Federation RUS 0 2 1 3
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Hong Kong, China HKG 0 1 0 1
Philippines PHI 0 1 0 1
Portugal POR 0 1 0 1
Slovenia SLO 0 1 0 1
Spain ESP 0 1 0 1
Great Britain GBR 0 0 2 2
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1
Netherlands Antilles AHO 0 0 1 1
Peru PER 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Ben Ainslie GBR 4 1 0 5
Paul Elvstrøm DEN 4 0 0 4
Valentin Mankin URS
UKR
3 1 0 4
Jochen Schümann GDR
GER
3 1 0 4
Robert Scheidt BRA 2 2 1 5
Torben Grael BRA 2 1 2 5
Magnus Konow NOR 2 1 0 3
Rodney Pattisson GBR 2 1 0 3
Mark Reynolds USA 2 1 0 3
Iain Percy GBR 2 1 0 3

Youth Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Lara Vadlau AUT 1 0 0 1
Siripon Kaewduang-Ngam THA 1 0 0 1
Mayan Rafic ISR 1 0 0 1
Ian Barrows ISV 1 0 0 1
Wu Linli CHN 1 0 0 1
Samantha Yom SGP 1 0 0 1
Francisco Saubidet ARG 1 0 0 1
Bernie Chin SGP 1 0 0 1
Dante Cittadini ARG 1 0 0 1
Deury Corniel DOM 1 0 0 1
Alexandros Kalpogiannakis GRE 1 0 0 1
Teresa Romairone ARG 1 0 0 1
Giorgia Speciale ITA 1 0 0 1
Sofia Tomasoni ITA 1 0 0 1

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Windsurfer Men 9
One Person Dinghy Men 7
Two Person Dinghy Men 8
Two Person Keelboat Men 3
Skiff Men 2
One Person Heavyweight Dinghy Men 2
Windsurfer Women 8
One Person Dinghy Women 7
Two Person Dinghy Women 8
Three Person Keelboat Women 3
Skiff Women 1
Multihull Mixed 1
Windsurfer Boys 3
One Person Dinghy Boys 2
Kiteboarding Boys 1
Windsurfer Girls 3
One Person Dinghy Girls 2
Kiteboarding Girls 1
Multihull Mixed Youth 1
Windsurfer Open 1
One Person Dinghy Open 19
Two Person Dinghy Open 3
Two Person Keelboat Open 18
Skiff Open 3
Multihull Open 9
Three Person Keelboat Open 15
12 foot Open 1
Two Person Heavyweight Dinghy Open 10
18 foot Open 1
5.5 metres Open 5
6 metres Open 10
6.5 metres Open 1
7 metres Open 2
8 metres Open 8
10 metres Open 3
12 metres Open 4
30 metres² Open 1
40 metres² Open 1
Open Open 1
0-½ Ton Open 2
½-1 Ton Open 2
1-2 Ton Open 2
2-3 Ton Open 2
3-10 Ton Open 2
10-20 Ton Open 1
20+ Ton Open 1