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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
GB success on high seas
Sailing in Sydney
Traditionally, Great Britain has always done well at sailing
Sailing aficionados will be hoping the event enjoys greater success than the last time the Olympics graced Greece.

At the Athens Games in 1896 the event had to be cancelled due to the weather and its debut was put back to 1900.

It has been ever-present since, although it has undergone dramatic changes in the types of boat used.

Regattas have been taking place since the mid-17th century, but the first Games, dominated by Great Britain, had classes measured by tonnage.

Today there are 11 sailing disciplines in nine boat classes, none of which survive from that first Olympic outing.

PRESENT CLASS DEBUTS

Windsurfer
Mistral (men & women) - 1996
Single-handed dinghy
Finn (men) - 1952
Europe (women) - 1992
Laser (open) - 1996
Double-handed dinghy
470 (men & women) - 1976
49er (open) - 2000
Keelboat
Star (men) - 1932
Yngling (women) - 2004
Multihull
Tornado (open) - 1976
The oldest, and longest at 6.922 metres , on show in Athens will be the Star, dating from the 1932.

Of the other classes, the smallest is the Europe at 3.35m and the fastest the Tornado, a catamaran.

Although women have competed in sailing since the early days of the modern Olympics, they made made their official event debut at the 1988 Games, sailing in the 470 class, and now race in three classes as well as the five that are open.

The most recent change to the event came at the last Olympics when the event name was changed from yachting to sailing as organsisers felt the older term was weighed down with preconceptions of class.

The sport can also boast some famous names, including Olympic legend Paul Elvstrom.

The Dane won four successive monotype titles from 1948 - the first man to achieve the feat in any Olympic sport.

He came out of retirement and made his last appearance, partnering his daughter, to race at the age of 60 in 1988.

Elvstrom's 40-year Olympic career equals records set by Norway's Magnus Konow (1908-48) and Durwood Knowles of the Bahamas (1948-88).

DID YOU KNOW?
In the sailing competition of the 1908 Olympics, held at White City, London, one of the sailing events was motorboat racing. It has not reappeared since
But even those efforts are overshadowed by Hubert Raudaschl, from landlocked Austria, who competed in nine Olympics between 1964 and 1996, more than any other competitor in Games history.

Harry Melges (Soling, 1972) and Russell Coutts (Finn, 1984) both won Olympic gold before skippering victorious America's Cup teams, while another winner of the Auld Mug, Dennis Conner (Tempest, 1976) had to settle for a bronze.

Great Britain has won more golds than any other nation including a hat-trick haul in Sydney when Ian Percy (Finn), Shirley Robertson (Europe) and Ben Ainslie (Laser), after a titanic battle against Brazil's defending champion Robert Scheidt, won.

Britian also boast an Olympic record for the lowest number of penalty points in an event when Rodney Pattisson and Iain Macdonald-Smith won the 1968 Flying Dutchman class with three points.

MEDAL TABLE (Top five; since 1900)
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain 17 14 10 41
USA 16 18 16 50
Norway 16 11 3 30
France 12 6 9 27
Denmark 11 8 4 23





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