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Olympic sailing classes

Sailing is a well organized and recognized sport. There is a broad variety of kinds of races and sailboats used for racing. Much racing is done around buoys or similar marks in protected waters, while some longer offshore races cross open water. All kinds of boats are used for racing, including small dinghies, catamarans, boats designed primarily for cruising, and purpose-built raceboats. The Racing Rules of Sailing govern the conduct of yacht racing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, model boat racing, dinghy racing and virtually any other form of racing around a course with more than one vessel while powered by the wind.

Sailing pictogram.svg More about...Sailing

Olympic sailing classes

The eight Olympic classes designs scheduled in London 2012.

The Olympic sailing classes were used in the sport of Sailing/Yachting during the Olympic Summer Games since 1896. Since then, 46 different classes have been used.

Over a period of more than 112 years, in a sport that uses complex technical equipment, it goes without saying that classes will be discontinued for use at the Olympics. Reasons for discontinuation of a class did vary from economical, logistical and technological to emotional and even political. Some of the discontinued classes remain very strong International - or National classes. Others filled a niche in a specific area like sailing schools or local club racing. Some faded away.

The “Former Olympic Sailing Classes”, together with their crews form an important and significant part of the history of sailing in general and Olympic Sailing in particular. These tables give an overview of the classes and when they were used for Olympic sailing.

Selected article

470 dinghy.svg

The 470 (Four-Seventy) is a double-handed monohull planing dinghy with a centreboard, Bermuda rig, and centre sheeting. The name is the overall length of the boat in centimetres (i.e., the boat is 4.70 metres long). The hull is fibreglass with integral buoyancy tanks. The 470 is equipped with spinnaker and trapeze, making teamwork necessary to sail it well. It has a large sail-area-to-weight ratio, and is designed to plane easily.

The 470 is a popular class with both individuals and sailing schools, offering a good introduction to high-performance boats without being excessively difficult to handle. It is not a boat designed for beginners, however, it's earlier designed smaller sister the 420 is a stepping-stone to the 470. The 470 is an International Sailing Federation International Class and has been an Olympic class since the 1976 games. The Class was initially an open class, but since the 1988 games there have been separate events for men and women.

The 470 was designed in 1963 by the Frenchman André Cornu as a modern fiberglass planing dinghy to appeal to sailors of different sizes and ages. This formula succeeded, and the boat spread around the world. In 1969, the class was given international status and it has been an Olympic class since 1976. In 1988, the first Olympic women's sailing event used the 470.

Sailing pictogram.svg More about...470 (dinghy)

Selected biography

Torben Grael.jpg

Torben Schmidt Grael (born July 22, 1960) is one of the most well known Brazilian sailors, renowned in international competitions. A descendant of Danes, he was taken sailing by his grandfather at five years old on the sailboat Aileen, of the 6 meter class, which was the boat used by the silver medal winning 1912 Summer Olympics Danish sailing team. Once he moved to Niterói, he started sailing with his brother, Lars Grael, also an Olympic medal winner, on the Bay of Guanabara. Nicknamed Turbine for his fame in conducting sailboats, he collected five Olympic medals, four of them in the Star class. He is the Brazilian with the highest number of Olympic medals, and holds the highest number of Olympic medals in sailing, although Paul Elvstrøm has four gold medals (winning them consecutively from 1948 through 1960), and is Grael's own role-model. He also placed first place in many World, South American and Brazilian championships in several categories. His first-mate is usually Marcelo Ferreira.

Grael has also sailed in other international competitions including the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of the Brasil 1 team, the first 100% Brazilian outfit to enter the competition, which finished third overall. He would win the next Ocean Race, but this time as the skipper of the Swedish team Ericsson 4 (he won the race with two legs to spare). In October 2008 the yacht Ericsson 4 officially travelled 596.6 nautical miles in 24 hours, establishing a 24 hour monohull record. Skipper Torben Grael and his crew made the record on the first leg of the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race. They sailed Ericsson 4 hard as a strong cold front hit the fleet, bringing winds approaching 40 knots, and propelling the yacht at an average speed of 24.8 knots.

He has sailed in several America's Cup races, including the winning campaign in Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000 and the 2007 event as tactician aboard Luna Rossa Challenge

Sailing pictogram.svg More about...Torben Grael

Multiple medalists at the Summer Olympics

Brazilian Torben Grael is the only Olympic sailor with five Olympic medals. The most successful sailor is Paul Elvström with four gold medals.

# Sailor Country Period Gold medal olympic.svg Silver medal olympic.svg Bronze medal olympic.svg Tot. Classes
1 Paul Elvström  Denmark (DEN) 1948–1960 4 0 0 4 Firefly/Finn
2 Jochen Schümann  Germany (GER) 1976–2000 3 1 0 4 Finn/Soling
Valentin Mankin  Soviet Union (URS) 1968–1980 3 1 0 4 Finn/Tempest/Star
Ben Ainslie  Great Britain (GBR) 1996–2012 4 1 0 5 Laser/Finn
5 Robert Scheidt  Brazil (BRA) 1996–2012 2 2 1 5 Laser/Star
6 Torben Grael  Brazil (BRA) 1984–2004 2 1 2 5 Soling/Star
7 Magnus Konow  Norway (NOR) 1912–1936 2 1 0 3 12 Metre/8 Metre/6 Metre
Rodney Pattisson  Great Britain (GBR) 1968–1976 2 1 0 3 Flying Dutchman
Mark Reynolds  United States (USA) 1988–2000 2 1 0 3 Star
10 Tore Holm  Sweden (SWE) 1920–1948 2 0 2 4 40m2 class/8 Metre/6 Metre
Four or more medals
Alessandra Sensini  Italy (ITA) 1996–2008 1 1 2 4 Mistral/RS:X
Carlos Espínola  Argentina (ARG) 1996–2008 0 2 2 4 Mistral/Tornado
Sailing pictogram.svg More about...Multiple medalists

History of Sailing

The cup.

Throughout history sailing has been instrumental in the development of civilization, affording mankind greater mobility than travel over land, whether for trade, transport or warfare, and the capacity for fishing. The earliest representation of a ship under sail appears on a painted disc found in Kuwait dating to the late 5th millennium BC. Advances in sailing technology from the Middle Ages onward enabled Arab, Chinese, Indian and European explorers to make longer voyages into regions with extreme weather and climatic conditions. There were improvements in sails, masts and rigging; navigation equipment improved. From the 15th century onwards, European ships went further north, stayed longer on the Grand Banks and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and eventually began to explore the Pacific Northwest and the Western Arctic.

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Sailing events

International classification

The ISAF officially includes the following seven categories of sailing classes.

Official name Details
Olympic Olympic sailing classes
Centreboard Dinghy sailing
Multihull Multihull
Keelboat Keelboat
Windsurfing Windsurfing
Yacht Yacht
Radio Radio-controlled boat
Current Olympic classes
Category Class Male Female Team Times
Dinghy Finn x Singles 16ª cons.
49er x 2 4ª cons.
470 x x 2 10ª cons.
Laser x Singles 6ª cons.
Laser Radial x Singles 2ª cons.
Keelboat Star x 2 18ª
Elliott 6m x 3, Match racing debutto
Windsurf RS:X x x Singles 3ª cons.
Sailing pictogram.svg More about...International Class

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