Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Sailing

Sailing in the Olympics | The Rio 2016 Sailing Course

What is the sailing race course going to look like at the Rio 2016 Olympics?

Alison Young is one of Team GB’s hopefuls for the Rio 2016 Olympics in Laser Radial class. Photo: British Sailing Team

Sailing is one of the most exhilarating race to watch at the Olympics. At Rio 2016, there are eight sailing events – not including two windsurfing events.

These include the following disciplines: 470, 49er, 49erFX, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial and new to 2016, Nacra 17.

270 sailors from 62 countries will be taking part in the Olympic sailing events. There are five sailing courses at the Rio 2016 Olympics – three inside Guanabara Bay and two in the open ocean.

Sailing In The Olympics: An Essential Guide To The Rio 2016 Events, The Rules And Schedule

The three courses inside Guanabara Bay are called Pão de Açucar, Ponte and Escola Naval. Outside Guanabara, the two open ocean courses are Copacabana and Niteroi.

There is also a reserve course – in case the wind conditions don’t work for the other courses – called the Aeroporto area.

Guanabara Bay is a renowned world-class sailing venue. It was a stopover point for the Volvo Ocean Race back in 2009 and hosted the Pan American Games in 2007.

A map of the different course areas for the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing events. Photo: ISAF

Not sure how a sailing regatta works? Here’s a basic rundown.

Two official boats mark the start line. The sailors race around a series of buoys – there is usually two to four laps. The sailors have to complete the race powered only by the wind, adapting to the wind and weather conditions in order to succeed.

There are ten races per Olympic class (15 races for the 49ers). Sailors can discard their worst race result from these ten races. Then the top ten boats in each class move onto the Medal Race. This counts for double points which are added to their overall score. The sailors with the lowest score wins.

Last summer, the Olympic prospective sailors had the chance to sail the courses at an Olympic test event. “The great thing about Rio is the diversity of the conditions and also the diversity of the different race areas, and that makes for the best all-round sailor,” Australian sailor Mat Belcher told a reporter for Rio 2016.

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There are some concerns about the Olympic venue for Rio 2016. The waters in Guanabara Bay are very polluted. “This is by far the worst water quality we’ve seen in our sailing careers,”Austria sailing coach Ivan Bujala told Sport and Wisdom.

From Team GB, there are 15 sailors and windsurfers heading out to the Rio 2016 Olympics, many of whom have won medals before – so we have high hopes of topping the podium this summer. Learn more about the Olympic sailing race rules here.

It is currently scheduled to start on Monday 8th August and finish on Friday 19th August, but this may change depending on weather conditions. Medal races are scheduled to take place from 14th August until 18th August with two per day.

You can watch every event on the BBC – whether it is live on TV or catch up online. Read more about the sailing schedule here.

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