Sailing competitions may not receive as much TV airtime as other Olympic sports such as basketball or gymnastics, but more athletes participate in sailing than many other sports that will be contested at the 2012 Summer Olympics. It is one of the oldest modern Olympic sports. Medals for sailing (or yachting as it was originally called) were first awarded at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris.
A total of 380 athletes from 57 nations qualified to compete in 10 individual and team sailing categories at London. Each country can enter one boat per category. Only New Zealand, France and the United States have qualified athletes in all 10 categories.
Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about the sailing competitions during the 2012 London Olympics:
Dates and Locations
Preliminaries for the sailing events begin on Sunday, July 29. Medal rounds will start a week later on Sunday, Aug. 5 and continue through Saturday, Aug. 11. The entire sailing schedule is spread out over all but three days of the Olympic games.
All sailing competitions will be held off the southern coast of England near Dorset. They will be staged in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.
Sailing fans can enjoy two types of competitions when they arrive in England -- fleet racing and match racing. Only one event -- the women's Elliot 6m -- will be contested as head-to-head match races. The rest of the events will be contested as fleet races.
Men's events include RS-X, laser, finn, 470, 49er and star. Women's events include laser radial, 470, RS-X and Elliott 6m.
Scoring and Determining Winners
Scores for sailing cover both ends of the spectrum. Match racing determines winners based on the highest point total. Fleet racing, on the other hand, mirrors golf in awarding victories based on the lowest point total.
Match races such as the women's Elliot 6m start with a round-robin stage where all 12 teams compete head-to-head. The winning team from each heat receives a point. The top eight teams in the overall points standings advance to the knockout stage. Once again, teams advance by accumulating points in a series of races. Each race is worth a single point, and the series is won by the first team to reach three points. The last team remaining in the knockout stage is crowned champion.
Fleet races hold a series of preliminary heats involving all teams or individual competitors at the same time. Points are awarded proportionally to how the team or individual finishes. First place receives a point, second place earns two points, and so forth.
After 10 races, the worst score is discarded and the remaining points are added together. The 10 best teams or individuals advance to the medal round. Points are doubled in the medal round.
Fleet race champions are not determined in the medal round. The winners are decided based on cumulative point totals from all the races. The team or individual with the lowest total following the medal race is crowned champion.
John Coon has written articles on competitive sailing and recreational sailing as a freelance reporter for several print and online publications. He also enjoys sailing on the Great Salt Lake in his home state of Utah.
- Sports & Recreation
- 2012 Summer Olympics