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Sailing 101: Basics

© 2015 / International Olympic Committee / Bob Martin

Sailing 101: Basics

Learn more on the basics of Olympic sailing at the Rio Games.

Up to 3,000 categories of sailboats reportedly exist around the world, each class with its own set of rules and specifications. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, 10 events are contested in six different types of boats. The women's 49erFX and the mixed Nacra 17 make their Olympic debut at the Rio Games. Boats compete in fleet races, with each regatta lasting a series of days.

There are 10 total events, men compete in five, women compete in four and one event is mixed. Crew sizes range from single-handed to two-person boats. Each class is a different size and shape, requiring certain skills of the sailors in order to operate the boat successfully.

Helpful definitions:
Dinghy: Laser, Laser Radial, 470, Finn - the dinghies used at the Olympics - they all have one hull and a daggerboard.

Hull: the main body or shell of a ship or other vessel, including the bottom, sides, and deck.

Daggerboard: An adjustable fin primarily used to stop the boat moving sideways through the water.

Multihull: Nacra 17 - A boat with more than one hull.

Skiff: 49er - A light open dinghy with a self-draining hull.

Below are all of the sailing Olympic classes: 
Men's sailing
Laser (one-person dinghy)
Finn (heavyweight, one person dinghy)
470 (two-person dinghy)
49er (skiff)
RS:X (windsurfer)

Women's sailing
Laser Radial (one-person dinghy)
470 (two-person dinghy)
49erFX (skiff)
RS:X (windsurfer)

Mixed sailing
Nacra 17 (multihull)

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