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Olympic Sailing Event Facts and Glossary of Terms

'Beijing Olympics - Qingdao Sailing Event'    © Ingrid Abery
Facts about the Olympic Sailing Event. The Glossary of Sailing Terms was provided by the International Olympic Committee.

For each event the competition will consist of an opening series and a medal race. The ten boats ranked highest in the opening series will be assigned to compete in the medal race.

Eleven races are scheduled for each event except for the 49er class, for which 16 races are scheduled as opening races and one as a medal race. Two races per day are scheduled for each event, except for the 49er class, for which three races per day are scheduled.

The scheduled time of the warning signal for the start of the first race each day is 1300.

On scheduled medal race days for each event, no start will be made after 16:30.
The target time for the Medal Race will be 20 minuets for the RS:X class and 30 minutes for all other Classes.

The courses raced will either be Trapezoid or Windward-leeward.


Sailors must hail “protest” to a boat they wish to protest or the hearing will be invalid.

If a sailor hails “protest” and the protested boat doesn’t take penalty turns to exonerate themselves then the protester must fill out a protest form once ashore and within the protest time limit, detailing the incident and the rules broken and if possible involve a witness. The protest hearing is then held in front of a panel of International Jury.

The result will either be:
For the Tornado and 49er classes only one 360 degree turn (one tack and one gybe) is required to exonerate a penalty.
For all other classes a 720 degree turn (two tacks and two gybes) is required to exonerate a penalty. Decisions of the International Jury are final.


The low point score system will be used where by 1st place gets 1 point, 2nd gets 2 points and so on.

The Medal Race is one race that scores double points so 1st gets 2 points, 2nd get 4 points and so on.

The Medal Race is not excludable from the final overall score.
For boats assigned to compete in the medal race, ties in the regatta score are broken by the medal-race score.

Six races are required to be completed to constitute an opening series before a Medal Race will be run.

One race is required to constitute a regatta.

When five or more races have been completed, a boat’s series score will be the total of her race scores excluding her worst score.

The leading boat after the first day of racing will have a yellow dot (circular sticker) on the sail. Second place will carry a blue dot and third place a red dot.


360 - Meaning a “360-degree penalty turn”, one complete circle sailed as a penalty for hitting a buoy.

720 - Meaning a “720-degree penalty turn”, two complete circles sailed as a penalty for breaching a rule.

ABANDON - A ruling by the Race Committee or jury to void a race, although it may be sailed again later.

BALLAST - Extra weight carried for stability, usually lodged in the keel.

BEAR AWAY - To alter course away from the wind.

BEAT - The line taken to sail most directly into the wind (about 45 degrees from wind direction); also known as “work”.

BUOY - A rounding mark that floats on the water, denoting the required course.

DNC - Meaning “did not compete”, the ruling when a boat fails to compete in a scheduled race and is awarded the maximum number of points for the race.

DND - Meaning “disqualification not discardable”, the ruling when the jury disqualifies a boat from a race and awards the maximum number of points
for the race, points which may not be discarded from the overall score later.

DNF - Meaning “did not finish”, the ruling when a boat fails to finish a race and is awarded the maximum number of points for the race.

DNS - Meaning “did not start”, the ruling when a competing boat fails to start a race and is awarded the maximum number of points for that race.

DSQ - Meaning “disqualified”, the ruling when the jury disqualifies a boat from a race and awards the maximum number of points for the race.

FLEET RACING - A style of race where all the competitors sail against each other at once, the predominant form of sailing at the Olympic Games.

FORESTAY - The rigging that secures the mast forward.

GYBE - To shift the mainsail from one side to the other when sailing with the wind behind; also “jibe”.

HEADSAIL - The sail in front of the mast.

JIBE - To shift the mainsail from one side to the other when sailing with the wind behind; also “gybe”.

LEEWARD - The side farthest from the wind.

LEG - A part of the course bounded by two marks or buoys.

LUFFING - Altering course toward the wind.

MARK - A buoy that defines the endpoint of a leg of a race.

MAST - A vertical spar or pole to which a sail or sails attach.

MATCH RACING - One-on-one racing between two boats,a component of the programme for the Soling class at the Olympic Games.

OCS - Meaning “on course side”, a ruling where a boat is deemed to have started a race prematurely and is subsequently disqualified from the race and awarded the maximum number of points.

OPEN - A style of competition in which both men and women may enter.

PORT - A boat’s left side when looking forward.

PRE-START MANOEUVRES - Tactical manoeuvres in the water carried out with the intention of being in the best possible position for the starting signal.

RACE COMMITTEE - The on-water officials responsible for setting the course and starting and finishing the race in accordance with the race rules and regulations.

RDG - Meaning “redress”, a ruling where the jury reinstates or changes a boat’s score for a particular race, based on a protest hearing.

REACH - To sail across the wind, or between the extremes of beat and run.

RUDDER - A vertical board hinged to the back of a boat that turns the craft.

RUN - The course taken to sail most directly downwind, or with the wind.

STARBOARD - A boat’s right side when looking forward.

TACK - To change direction relative to wind direction (usually in a zigzag manner over the duration of an upwind leg), such as changing from having the wind on the right to having the wind on the left.

TRAPEZOIDAL - A four-leg course configuration with separate starting and finish lines.

WINDWARD - The side closest to the wind.

WINDWARD RETURN - A type of course configuration requiring the boats to sail into the wind to a mark, then with the wind when returning to a second mark.

WORK - The course taken to sail most directly into the wind (about 45 degrees from wind direction); also known as “beat”.

Information courtesy of the International Olympic Committee

by Australian Sailing Team Media


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8:54 PM Thu 7 Aug 2008 GMT

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