Olympic and Paralympic Classes

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has selected nine one-design classes for the eleven Olympic sailing events to be contested at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Sailing events are to be held in Qindao, China.

(Click on the equipment to link to it's description):

Equipment Event Discipline
Radial Women's Singlehanded Dinghy Fleet Racing
Finn Men's Singlehanded Dinghy Fleet Racing
470 Men Men's Doublehanded Dinghy Fleet Racing
470 Women Women's Doublehanded Dinghy Fleet Racing
49er Open Doublehanded High Performance Dinghy Fleet Racing
Laser Open Singlehanded Dinghy Fleet Racing
NeilPryde RS:X Men Men's Windsurfer Fleet Racing
NeilPryde RS:X Women Women's Windsurfer Fleet Racing
Star Men's Doublehanded Keelboat Fleet Racing
Tornado Open Doublehanded Multihull Fleet Racing
Yngling Women's Triplehanded Keelboat Fleet Racing

Radial (Women's Singlehanded Dinghy)

The Laser Radial sail was originally designed for training and as an introduction to Laser sailing. But since the aim of the International Sailing Federation is to increase the participation of emerging nations in the Olympic games by right, then the availability of the Laser Radial in these nations was a huge boost to achieving that goal. Therefore the Radial is now the Olympic Women's Singlehanded class and will have a start for the first time in China 2008.
Visit the web page for the International Laser Class at: www.laserinternational.org
or the homepage for the North American Laser Class: www.laser.org

FINN (Men's Singlehanded Dinghy)

A high-performance, refined sailboat, the Finn ranks as one of the world's great boats. Because each rig is tailored to each individual's style. Sailing ability is key and superior sailing ability wins!
A one-man centerboard dinghy, the Finn requires tremendous physical exertion and mental concentration. This combination of excellent craft with sophisticated competitor makes Finn racing unique.
Finn sailors are strong, fit and tolerant of long periods of concentration and physical exertion. Averaging more than 6' in height, they weigh in at 190+ lbs. and are unusually tough. Finn sailors train hard for competition and are known as well-rounded athletes with proven general sailing skills.
The 115-square-foot sail is fully adjustable, and its shape bears directly on performance and boat speed, the Finn is extremely responsive. Mastery of the craft is never quite fully achieved. Finn sailors may have sailed for years, yet find some small nuance of tactics, weight or other adjustment yielding a greater result and luring them to a lifelong love of the boat.
Designed by Swedish sailor Rickard Sarby in 1949, the boat was the winner of a design competition to provide the best possible singlehanded boat for the 1952 Olympics in Finland. The new Finn challenged the sailor to the maximum, which immediately attracted many competitors. The Finn remains today as the oldest continuous class in Olympic sailing. Over 12,000 of the boats have been built worldwide and at least 65 nations have active Finn fleets.
Visit the web page for the International Finn class at: www.finnclass.org

470 (Men and Women's Doublehanded Dinghy)

The everyman/woman boat of competitive racing, the 470 is sailed by young or old, experienced or beginning sailor. In 1963, French architect Andre Cornu designed the two-handed centerboard boat as a modern high performance fiberglass planing dinghy which could be sailed by anyone. The 470 is directly credited with drawing many new sailors to the sport during the 1960s and '70s.
An Olympic class boat since 1976, 470s are sailed today for both family recreation and superior competition by more than 30,000 sailors in 42 countries worldwide. The 470 is so popular that its annual World Championship is considered one of sailing's major international regattas attended by sailors and spectators from around the world.
A light and narrow boat (length 15'6" and beam 5'6" with a weight of 264 lbs.), the 470 responds easily and immediately to body movement. Thus, the sailors' teamwork is critical. The skipper is usually smaller and lighter (5'5" to 5'10" and 125-140 lbs.), and the crew is usually taller and light (5'10" to 6'2" yet only 135-150 lbs.). The crew's build lets him or her hang far out on the trapeze to keep the boat level in all conditions.
In 1988, women officially entered Olympic sailing competition with the first-ever 470 Women's event. This boat is especially well-suited to women's competition because of its light weight, maneuverability and light crew weight requirement. The United States won the first 470 Women's gold medal.
Visit the web page for the International 470 Class at: www.470.org

49er (Open Doublehanded High Performance Dinghy)

This Australian designed 16-foot double-trapeze skiff is high-tech and ultra-fast. Retractable wings spread to nine feet and allow the crew to leverage their weight in order to keep the dinghy from heeling over too far. With a huge sail area for such a small boat -- 639 sq. feet -- the 49er can sail faster than the speed of wind.
The relationship between skipper and crew is critical on the 49er, perhaps more so than on any other Olympic boat. Going so fast on the edge of control means that one slip can mean a flip. The boat attracts competitors looking for speed and excitement. Made of fiberglass and carbon fiber to be strong and light, the 49er weighs 275 pounds when fully rigged. The 49er appeals to sailors who like to live life on the edge.
Visit the web page for the International 49er Class at: www.49er.org

LASER (Open Singlehanded Dinghy)

The Laser has been called the world's premier one-man racing sailboat. With 150,000 Lasers sailing in 85 countries, this boat has motivated more sailors--from juniors to masters--to excel in the sport than any design in the history of sailing. It is fast, responsive, lightweight (cartoppable), and virtually maintenance free. The Laser's accessibility and modest price make it an Olympic sailor's dream. An added bonus is the 1,000 worldwide regattas held each year by the Laser Class Association.
Designed by Canadian Bruce Kirby in 1969 and first produced in 1970, the Laser caught on during a boom period for recreational sailing. However, the design has proven its ability to survive more trying times as well, reaching its current level of popularity with minimal backpedaling over the years. Perhaps it is because every sailor seems to come in contact with the Laser at least once in his or her sailing career, and the boat is so endearing that many cannot continue racing without getting back to their Laser roots at least once in a while.
Though the Laser is offered with three different rig sizes for different weights and skill levels, it is the International Laser that made its Olympic debut in 1996. With 76 sq. ft. of sail and a hull that measures 13'11", the International Laser is ideal for the singlehanded sailor of 150-180 pounds.
Visit the web page for the International Laser Class at: www.laserinternational.org
or the homepage for the North American Laser Class: www.laser.org

NeilPryde RS:X (Men and Women's Windsurfer)

Windsurfers are the fastest monohull sailing crafts in the world today. It is believed that there are more windsurfers worldwide today than all other sailboats combined, and their popularity continues to grow. This is due to the craft's small size, low cost, portability and the excitement of "flying" over the water. The sensation of speed is further enhanced by the sailor's close proximity to the water.
Debuting at the 1984 Summer Games, the windsurfing event utilized the Lechner II-design board in competition for three Olympiads, including the first women's Olympic windsurfing event which was introduced in 1992. In 1996, the Mistral replaced the Lechner for both the Men's and Women's divisions. And in 2005 the new NeilPride RX:S makes it's entry as Olympic class for the 2008 Games in China.
Windsurfers are great athletes and sailors. Physically, the best windsurfing sailors are tall, lean and agile. Standing while sailing, these athletes utilize tremendous upper body strength to support and control their rigs. Windsurfers are some of the most fit athletes at the Olympic games with aerobic requirements similar to those required for running a marathon.

Visit the web page for the International Winsurfing Association at: www.internationalwindsurfing.com

STAR (Men's Doublehanded Keelboat)

Requiring the best technical and racing skills, and, in return, giving the most fun! That's how Star sailors describe their boat which has competed in Olympic sailing since 1932, with the exception of 1976.
Much of the secret to the Star's success is the philosophy of keeping young while growing old. This means the competitiveness of the existing boats is assured while innovation and progress are encouraged. Thus, the Star class has pioneered many refinements now used as standard equipment on all racing sailboats. Supported by a worldwide association, the Star as a class is well-organized, with approximately 7,500 boats built over its 80 year history. Today, over 2,000 Stars are raced actively.
The oldest one-design craft, the Star's 1910-design by American Francis Sweisguth responded to the need to create a bigger, more comfortable and drier "Bug," which was a 17-foot keelboat popular at the time. The first one-design class, the Star revolutionized construction and racing rules. Sweisguth's hull design was ingenius. It has withstood the test of time and the application of new technology to remain at the forefront of international competition. Star World champions acknowledge their win by permanently changing their red mainsail star to gold.
Raced worldwide in over 170 fleets, the Star is a two-handed keelboat, with a sleek fiberglass hull and aluminum spars. Often called "The Torture Rack" because of the enormous 285-square-foot sail area, long boom and narrow waterline, this is a challenging boat to sail in heavy seas. The skipper and crew must be big (average combined weight of 420 lbs.), very fit and strong.
Visit the web page for the International Star Class at: www.starclass.org

TORNADO (Open Doublehanded Multihull)

Speed! Speed! Speed! The Tornado catamaran is the fastest Olympic class boat. With 15-20 knots average speed, at maximum, Tornados reach 30 knots.
The clean, stiletto-shaped 20'-long hull, large sail, light construction and low weight ratio explain Tornados' speed. 49 square metres of sail area over the catamaran's 9'11" beam give incredible acceleration. Five seconds before the gun and motionless at 30' from the start, Tornados will cross the line at the gun at top speed!
Tornado skippers know aerodynamics in order to control the boat's quick response to wind and waves. Often called "daredevils" because of the incredible boat speed and dangerous ease of capsize.
Designed in 1966 in England, specifically to be the Olympic class catamaran, the Tornado entered Olympic competition in 1976. Since then, the Tornado has undergone refinement of shape, construction techniques and sail plan, allowing the boat to go faster and faster. More than 1,300 Tornados are sailed worldwide. The simplicity of the Tornado design allied to its excellent performance has produced a boat of outstanding quality that delivers exciting competition and challenge-the sailing ultimate.
Visit the web page for the International Tornado Class at: www.tornado.org

YNGLING (Women's Triplehanded Keelboat)

The Yngling (pronounced "ING-ling") made its debut as an Olympic-class boat at the 2004 Olympic Regatta in Athens. The small keelboat was inspired by the then 14-year old son of Norway's Jan Herman Linge. Yngling, which means 'youngster' was developed by Linge in 1967, shortly after his previous design, the Soling, had been through the selection trials to be chosen an Olympic boat. Although similarities exist between the two designs, the Yngling is not a scaled down version of the Soling as many have suggested. With more beam, higher freeboard and fuller body-lines, the Yngling is a smaller, slower, lighter and more easily handled boat.
Designed for a crew of three with an optimal overall weight between 400-500 lbs. makes the Yngling suitable for average-sized people, and enhanced it's consideration as the equipment for the three-person women's keelboat event. Costing approximately $50,0000 with sails, it is a very expensive boat. Over 4,000 boats are sailing worldwide.
Visit the web page for the International Yngling Class at: www.yngling.org

*Thanks to the US Sailing Association