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International sailing races began in 1851, when members of the New York Yacht Club decided to take part in a competition in England. To compete, they built a 101‑foot schooner named America, sailed to England and won a trophy called the Hundred Guineas Cup. The trophy was then renamed The America’s Cup in memory of this first international sailing competition.

Brief overview of the rules

Sailing involves moving a boat solely by harnessing the power of the wind. Mastery over ever‑changing conditions requires both great skill and experience on the part of the athletes. In Olympic events, the rules of the international sailing federation, World Sailing, apply. Competitions are made up of fleet racing, where two equally-matched boats race around the same varied course. 

Windsurfer – iQFoil © penofoto/

There were ten events at the Tokyo Games, including windsurfing, mixed Nacra 17 Foiling, 49ers and the 470. The various sailing disciplines are constantly changing and the boats allowed to compete are designed to be increasingly small and lightweight, placing ever greater demands on both the athletic and technical capacities of the sailors. Two new events will take place for the first time in the Olympic Games in 2024 : windsurfer – iQFoil and kiteboarding.

Kiteboarding ©VillegasPhoto/

Olympic history

Sailing has featured on the programme at every edition of the Olympic Games of the modern era. They could not take place on 1st April 1896 in Athens, however, as bad weather conditions forced the organisers to cancel the events. The first competitions therefore took place at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900. Since then, the categories included in the competition have constantly evolved. The different events are organised by monotype classes – i.e. their size and weight.

Events in 2024

The sailing events will take place between the 28th of July and the 8th of August.

  • Women’s : One Person Dinghy – Skiff – Windsurfing – Kite.
  • Men’s : One Person Dinghy – Skiff – Windsurfing – Kite.
  • Mixed : Mixed Multihull – Mixed Two Person Dinghy.

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International federation : World Sailing

© Clive Mason/Getty Images

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