The aesthetics were picture-perfect for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Sailing Competition - with Sydney Harbour's imposing city skyline, the stunning Sydney Opera House, and Harbour Bridge. On the outlook, a wonderful venue but challenging conditions faced the sailors throughout the competition.
From the many vantage points around the harbour, spectators could obtain first class views of the competition for no charge, and they took advantage of the opportunity in large numbers. Others viewed the sailing more closely from chartered ferries. The 2000 Olympic Games was the first instance of a working port being used for the Olympic regatta.
In sailing's 100th year of Olympic history Great Britain finished at the top of the sailing medal table having picked up five medals in the 11 events on show. Shirley Robertson, Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy came through to take gold for Britain whilst Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks got silver in the new twin-wire high performance skiff, the 49er.
Ian Walker and Mark Covell's medal in the Star was emotionally charged after the pair had both lost their previous sailing partners. Walker won Men's 470 silver at Atlanta 1996 with John Merricks who lost his life during a road accident in 1997 whilst Covell's former partner, Glyn Charles, passed away in the 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race.
View full results from Sydney 2000 here.
Ainslie v Scheidt - Round 2
At Atlanta 1996 Robert Schiedt (BRA) forced a young Ben Ainslie (GBR) into a premature final race start enabling the Brazilian to take Laser gold with the Brit settling for silver. But the tables turned at Sydney 2000.
Ainslie led going into the final race knowing that if Scheidt didn't finish above 22nd he would win gold. What ensued was some breath taking boat handling by both sailors as Ainslie tacked and tacked upon Scheidt's wind to stall his rival and subsequently pushing him down the fleet.
When Ainslie released Scheidt it was all about finishing positions and despite an anxious wait counting the boats as well as a jury protest Ainslie had won his first Olympic gold.
"My only option really was to try and sail him down the fleet and use the rule," said Ainslie. "I guess they say what goes around comes around and it certainly was a case of that today."
The Medal Maker
The Australian sailing team had only ever won one 470 medal, and this came at Montreal 1996 when Ian Brown and Ian Ruff picked up bronze.
After Victor Kovalenko coached the Ukrainian Men's and Women's 470 teams to gold and bronze at Atlanta 1996 the Australian Yachting Federation hired the 'Medal Maker' and the results were perfect.
Tom King and Mark Turnbull went on to take the Men's 470 gold whilst Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell took the Women's 470 honours. As well as his expertise Kovalenko told his crews, "Get your dream, trust yourself and follow your dream." It came true at Sydney 2000.
Women's 470 gold medallist Jenny Armstrong (AUS) said, "You could hear the crowd at the windward mark."
Shirley Robertson (GBR) on what was next for her after Europe victory, "A big party tonight and then a holiday."
After the protest hearing and confirmation of the gold and silver Laser medals Robert Scheidt said, "We will continue to be good friends and I look forward to further encounters. I wish him the best and I guess I will wake up happy tomorrow morning with the silver medal."
The modern Olympics returned to Athens in 2004 with the sailing venue 14km south of the city centre. A harbour built in the 1960s was expanded and modernised for the Olympics turning it into a large scale venue capable of hosting all of the teams and sailors.