London 2012 - Olympic sport guide: Sailing

Tue, 08 May 12:08:00 2012

Like rowing, sailing was cancelled at the 1896 Games because of bad weather. It was also dropped from the 1904 Games but resumed in 1908 and has been included in the programme ever since.

Ben Ainslie of Britain waves his country's flag after winning the medal race in the Finn class sailing competition during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Qingdao, Shandong province - 0

The London Games will feature six events for men and four for women and the categories include dinghies, keelboats and windsurfers. Competitors will take part in a series of races with the lowest number of points awarded for the best finishing position. In the final race — known as the medal race — the points are doubled. The overall winner is the individual or crew with the lowest total.

Unfortunately for windsurfing, it has now been ditched from the Olympics from Rio 2016 in favour of kiteboarding.

Hélène de Pourtalès became the first woman to compete in the Olympics - as a member of husband Hermann's crew which won the 1-2 ton sailing class for Switzerland in 1900.

Switzerland's future success was limited to a silver and a bronze in the 1960s but women fared rather better with occasional medal wins before they were given their own categories from 1988,

Great Britain has won the most sailing gold medals with 24 and has also produced one of the most successful individual sailors in Ben Ainslie (pictured), who won silver in 1996 and then three successive golds.

The Dane Paul Elvstrøm holds the record for the most sailing gold medals, winning at four consecutive Games from London 1948 to Rome 1960.

There have been significant family achievements in sailing. In 1912 the six-metre class was won by the French brothers Gaston, Amédée and Jacques Thubé and in 1952 Sumner and Edgar White won the 5.5-metres class for the United States.

In 1960, Crown Prince Constantinos was a member of the Greek crew that won gold in the three-person keelboat event. His brother-in-law, the future King Juan Carlos, sailed for Spain at the 1972 Games, followed at later editions by his niece and nephew. Reports suggest that for all his status, the Crown Prince was unable to avoid the traditional celebratory ducking, and was shoved into the water by his mother, Queen Frederika.


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