Until the year 2000, this sport was known as yachting. It originally became an Olympic sport in 1900, with people taking part in large yachts, often with as many as 10 crew members. Now small design boats have replaced the bigger boats, with the emphasis being on the skill of the sailor and not on the speed of the boat itself.
The category of sailing includes windsurfing, dinghy and keelboat events.
Sailing first became an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900, where time handicaps were used to adjudicate the race. The race format and the classes of competing boats have changed frequently since then. Olympic racing is now conducted with boats categorised into one-design classes based on similar weights and measurements.
The events to be contested in the 2004 Olympics are:
- Men's doublehanded dinghy
- Women's doublehanded dinghy
- Open doublehanded high performance dinghy
- Open singlehanded dinghy,/li>
- Men's windsurfer
- Women's windsurfer
- Men's doublehanded keelboat
- Open doublehanded multihull
- Women's triplehanded keelboat
From 1936 to 1988, the results were determined by a series of seven races. Since 1996, most sailing events are determined by an 11-race series. Up to 1984, all classes in this sport were open to men and women. In 1988 separate men's and women's competitions were added in some events.
Sailing requires a large body of water, so the sport has often been held some distance from the city hosting the Olympics.
Competitors have to sail a triangular course in the quickest time possible. Races take place in two categories: fleet racing - in which all competing boats race against each other at the same time - and match racing.
At the end of each heat, a negative points system is used to determine the final standings, as follows: 0 pt for 1st place, 3 pt for 2nd, 5.7 for 3rd etc. At the end of the last heat, each competitor deducts the two worst results (except in Soling where the winner is the sailor who wins the final), the winner being the competitor with the least number of points.
Gareth Blanckenberg is in the South African Olympic sailing team.