THE 10 EVENTS
- Men (5): RS:X (windsurf), Laser (1-person dinghy), Finn (heavyweight 1-person dinghy), 470 (2-person dinghy), 49er (2-person skiff)
- Women (4): RS:X (windsurf), Laser Radial (1-person dinghy), 470 (2-person dinghy), 49er FX (2-person skiff)
- Mixed (1): Nacra 17 (2-person multihull)
- For the Laser, Finn and 470 events, there are 10 regattas followed by 1 medal race.
- For the RS:X, 49er and Nacra 17 events, there are 12 regattas followed by 1 medal race.
- The winner of each regatta scores 1 point, 2nd place scores 2 points, etc. Each competitor has their worst result discarded after the first 10 or 12 regattas. The competitor with the fewest points after the medal race (which counts double) is declared the winner.
The first regatta is held on the River Thames in England, from Greenwich to Gravesend, between boats belonging to the Duke of York and Charles II.
The New York Yacht Club (NYYC), founded in 1844, sends a boat, "America", to participate in the Royal Yacht Squadron's "One Hundred Sovereign Cup". In the presence of Queen Victoria, "America" wins comfortably ahead of 15 English boats. The Cup is later donated to the NYYC and renamed the America's Cup.
American Joshua Slocum becomes the first man to complete a solitary round-the-world crossing, unaided, in his sloop "Spray".
The planned sailing events at the first modern Games are cancelled due to bad weather.
Sailing makes its Olympic debut in Paris. After a brief absence at the 1904 Games in St Louis, sailing becomes a permanent fixture of the Olympic programme.
Americans Clark Mills and Major Clifford McKay develop the Optimist, a boat which opens up the sport to a wider population.
The first women-only event, the 470, is introduced at the Games in Seoul (the event was previously mixed).
Changes to the Olympic sailing programme. The 49er FX is introduced for women, as is the Nacra 17 mixed event, on a 2-person catamaran. The keelboat events for men (Star) and women (Elliot) are dropped.
- Paul Elvstrom (Denmark)
The pioneer. 4 consecutive Olympic gold medals, in Firefly (1948) and Finn (1952, 1956, 1960). A remarkable 8 Olympic appearances between 1948 and 1988. In 1984, at the age of 56, he finished 4th in Tornado with his daughter Trine. An 11-time world champion in 7 different types of boat.
- Valentin Mankin (USSR/Ukraine)
The all-rounder. He remains the only sailor to have won 3 gold medals in 3 different classes. In 1968, he won the Olympic title in Finn, before taking gold in Tempest (1972) and Star (1980). He also picked up a silver medal in Tempest at Montreal 1976.
- Ben Ainslie (Great Britain)
The greatest. 4 gold medals at consecutive Games between 2000 and 2012 (1 in Laser, 3 in Finn). He also took Olympic silver in Laser in 1996. A 10-time world champion, knighted in 2013, Sir Ben is also one of the rare Olympic champions to have won the America's Cup (in 2013, with the boat Oracle Team USA).