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.
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.
The International Laser Class sailboat, also called Laser Standard and the Laser One is a popular one-design class of small sailing dinghy. According the Laser Class Rules the boat may be sailed by either one or two people, though it is rarely sailed by two. The design, by Bruce Kirby, emphasizes simplicity and performance. The dinghy is manufactured by independent companies in different parts of the world, including Laser Performance Europe (Americas and Europe), Performance Sailcraft Australia (Oceania) and Performance Sailcraft Japan.
The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed dinghies in the world. As of 2011, there are more than 250,000 boats worldwide. A commonly cited reason for its popularity is that it is robust, simple to rig and sail. The Laser also provides very competitive racing due to the very tight class association controls which eliminate differences in hull, sails and equipment.
The term "Laser" is often used to refer to the Laser Standard (the largest of the sail plan rigs available for the Laser hull). However there are two other sail plan rigs available for the Laser Standard hull and a series of other "Laser"-branded boats which are of a completely different hull designs. Examples include the Laser 2 and Laser Pico. The Laser Standard, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 are three types of 'Laser' administered by the International Laser Class Association.
Baird joined Team New Zealand as a coach for the 1995 America's Cup, guiding the syndicate to New Zealand's first ever Cup win. In the same year, he won the World Match Racing Championships, and was named the US's Yachtsman of the Year. The following year, he failed to qualify for the 1996 Olympic Games in the Soling class, missing out again in 2000. In 1999, he skippered Young America in the Louis Vuitton series to determine the challenger for the following year's America's Cup, but the syndicate's challenge faltered when one of its two yachts nearly sank in a race against a Japanese team.1 He joined another American syndicate for the challenger series for the 2003 America's Cup, but was again unsuccessful. Baird has also ventured into open water racing, having competed in round the world races in 1997–98 (for Innovation Kvaerner) and 2001–02 (for Djuice Dragons).2
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.