With 10 medals up for grabs at the 2012 Olympics in sailing--six menâ€™s events, and four womenâ€™s eventsâ€”plenty of exciting, wind-fueled competition will take place on Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour throughout the games. The area has gained fame for its sailing history and as the home of the British Sailing academy.
All of the races, save for the Womenâ€™s match racing on 6m boats, will use a fleet racing format where the winner of each race earns one point, and each subsequent place earns points in an ascending order. The boats contest a series of 10 races (15 for 49er) and the points are totaled, with the points from the worst finish discarded. From there the top 10 finishers are placed in a medal race, which has the points doubled. Medals are then awarded to the top three boats, based on total points (including the medal race, and series races). The womenâ€™s match racing event completes a round-robin round with all 12 boats competing against each other heads-up. Then the top eight boats compete in the elimination bracket.
Here's Part 1 of our events preview.
Menâ€™s Laser and Womenâ€™s Laser Radial (one-person dinghyâ€™s) (Gold Medal date â€“ Aug. 6)
Menâ€™s Finn (one-person dinghy) (Gold Medal date â€“ Aug. 5)
The smallest class of boat sailed at the Olympics could end up the most hotly contested. The 14 foot, 130 lb. craft is one of the most popular racing dinghies and over 250,000 of the boats had been manufactured as of 2011. As a One-Design class all of the sailors have the same boat with matching specifications for hardware. The simple setup of hull, single sail, centerboard, and tiller, doesnâ€™t allow for much tuning or adjustment of the boat, so the person sailing the boat and their tactics remain the most important key to winning a race. Sailors employ a variety of tactics, and body positioning maneuvers to keep their boats moving at rapid pace. A typical Laser sailor will weigh 185-200 lbs. The Laser Radial uses a shortened mast and smaller sail than a standard Laser, allowing female sailors that way less than 150 lbs. to sail it with ease in high winds.
The larger and more advanced single handed sailors sail the Finn. This 15 foot cat-rigged boat requires a larger sailor to control its 320 lb. hull, and the Finnâ€™s hardware allows the sailors to make more adjustments to the boat and sails than the Laser.
Windsurfing- Menâ€™s RS-X and Womenâ€™s RS-X (Windsurfers) (Gold Medal date â€“ Aug. 7)
Windsurfing sounds pretty basic, but the RS-X has a little more power than the board with a sail on it you may have tried at the beach resort. Unlike the other sailing events, a windsurfer has little more than their body, a sail and a board to get around the course as quick as possible. The windsurfers will have to use strength and nimble footwork to steer and keep their board upright, as they battle the wind and waves on the bay. The best windsurfers understand all of the important sailing skills, and move their bodies like gymnast on their boards.