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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June 2004, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Beginner's guide to sailing
Sailing action from Sydney
Sailing is awash with technical terms
The Olympic sailing regatta consists of 11 events in nine classes.

Men and women contest four events each while the remaining three are classified as open.

In fleet racing, the dominant type at the Olympics, the first to cross the line wins the race.

In all the events there are a series of 11 races, except for the 49er which has 16.

Each competitor tries to manoeuvre the other into making an error or violating the rules and incurring a penalty.

Boats are given points dependent on where they finish - first place getting one point, second two and so on.

Competitors are allowed to discard their worst result - two in the men's double-handed 49er. The winner is the boat with the lowest accumulated score at the end of the race series.

Men: Mistral, 470, Finn, Star
Women: Mistral, 470, Europe, Yngling
Open: Laser, 49er, Tornado

In the 49er class, after five races the worst result is discarded, and after 12, the worst two are discared.

For the first time at an Olympics, teams of three women will compete in the Yngling class, which replaces the larger Soling boat.

The different classes can be arranged into four boat types:

  • Dinghy: Finn, Europe, Laser, 49er and 470.
    Sailors steer dinghies using a rudder and the crew use their body weight to counterbalance the forces developed by the sail and their common characteristic are lifting centreboards.

    The Finn, Europe and Laser have a single sail, while the 470 class has a two-sail rig. Both the 470s and the 49ers also have an additional sail for downwind, called a spinnaker.

  • Keelboats: Yngling and Star.
    They have a fin fixed below the hull - otherwise known as the keel - while the Yngling boat also has a spinnaker.

  • Catamarans: Tornado.
    These are twin-hulled boats with a centreboard and a rudder on each hull, a two-sail rig and a mainsail.

  • Mistral: Mistral sailboard.
    A type of windsurfer, consisting of a board with a mast and a sail. The sailor controls the mast with their arms and steers in a standing position, moving body weight to guide the vessel.

The Mistral, Laser, Europe and Finn are all single-handed events - meaning one person on board - while the 470, Star, 49er, and Tornado are all double handed.

The only triple-handed event is the Yngling.

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