Sailing has been on the programme of the Olympic Games for over 100 hundred years and women sailors have played a major part throughout this time. The first woman to win a medal in sailing at the Olympic Games was Frances RIVETT-CARNAC (GBR) at the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. RIVETT-CARNAC was part of the gold medal winning crew of four sailing in the 7 Metre Class.
At both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games Sailing Competitions, women represented 35% of the competing athletes (139 of 400). That represents a 32% increase on women's participation in the sailing events of the Sydney Games (95 of 402 competing athletes).
In total, 90 medals have been won by women sailors at the Olympic Games. Alessandra SENSINI of Italy is the only women sailor to have won four medals - a total that includes one gold, one silver and two bronze.
There will be four women's sailing events at the London 2012 Olympic Games:
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Match Racing - Elliott 6m
Women's Windsurfer - RS:X
Women In ISAF
For over 30 years, the ISAF Women's Sailing Committee and latterly the ISAF Women's Forum have represented a specific arena for the promotion of women's sailing within ISAF.
There are current 58 women members of ISAF Committees, Sub-committees and Commissions. These included several Olympic medallists, offshore sailors, International Race Officials as well as high-level figures from ISAF Member National Authorities and Class Associations and other areas of sailing administration. As well as providing input into their relative areas of expertise, together they form the Women's Forum.
At the ISAF Annual Conference in 1996, the ISAF Council committed their support to the Brighton Declaration, made following the first International Conference On Women And Sport in 1994, which provides the principles that should guide action to increase the involvement of women in sport at all levels, functions and roles.
In 1998, Nucci NOVI CEPPELLINI of Italy was elected to the ISAF Executive Committee, becoming the first female Vice-President of the International Sailing Federation. Since then, Fiona BARRON of Great Britain, Teresa LARA of Venezuela and Nazli IMRE of Turkey have all also served as ISAF Vice-Presidents.
Teresa LARA and Nazli IMRE were both elected as Vice-Presidents at the 2008 ISAF General Assembly and are current members of the ISAF Executive Committee. They are two of the six female members on the ISAF Council, which is the final decision-making body of the International Sailing Federation.
Marcelien DE KONING of The Netherlands, who won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games, is the chairman of the ISAF Athletes' Commission. Alessandra SENSINI of Italy, the only women sailor to win four Olympic medals, is the Vice-Chairman of the Windsurfing Committee. The full list of women Chairman or Vice-Chairman of ISAF Committees, Sub-Committees and Commissions is:
Anna ANDREADIS (GRE) - Vice-Chairman, Regional Games Committee
Carolijn BROUWER (NED) - Vice-Chairman, Multihull Commission
Sally BURNETT (GBR) - Chairman, International Judges Sub-committee
Marcelien DE KONING (NED) - Chairman, Athletes' Commission
Josje HOFLAND-DOMINICUS (NED) - Vice-Chairman, Race Officials Committee
Fiona KIDD (CAN) - Chairman, Women's Forum and Chairman, Youth World Championship Sub-committee
Dina KOWALYSHYN (USA) - Chairman, Equipment Control Sub-committee and Vice-Chairman, Equipment Committee
Margriet PANNEVIS (NED) - Chairman, Medical Commission
Lotte Meldgaard PEDERSEN (DEN) - Vice-Chairman, Match Racing Committee
Esperanza PEREZ CRESPO (ESP) - Vice-Chairman, Youth World Championship Sub-committee
Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) - Vice-Chairman, Windsurfing Committee
Susanne WARD (DEN) - Vice-Chairman, Development and Youth Committee
Helen Mary WILKES (IRL) - Vice-Chairman, ISAF Classes Committee
Since 1994, the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award has been presented annually to one male and one female winner and is recognized as the pinnacle award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements by the world of sailing. The winner of the Award in 2008 was Italian Olympic windsurfing legend Alessandra SENSINI.
The ISAF Beppe Croce Trophy recognizes outstanding voluntary contribution to the sport of sailing. The Trophy has twice been awarded to a women: Mary Pera of Great Britain in 1999 and posthumously to Nucci NOVI CEPPELLINI of Italy in 2008.
The IOC Women and Sport Trophy is awarded in recognition of outstanding contribution to developing, encouraging and strengthening the participation of women and girls in sport at all its levels. At the inaugural Award ceremony in 2000, Nucci Novi Ceppellini was presented with the Trophy for Europe for her commitment to women's sailing.
Linda MERKEL of the USA is the President of the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS)
At the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, the introduction of the mixed Two-Person Keelboat - SKUD18 event helped a record number of women sailors to compete. The USA's Maureen MCKINNON TUCKER became the first women sailor to win a Paralympic gold medal.
At the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, eight members of the team of International Technical Officers were women:
- Krystyna LASTOWSKA (POL), Marina PSICHOGIOU (GRE) and Maria TORRIJO MOLL (ESP) were members of the Race Management Team
- Sally BURNETT (GBR), Josje HOFLAND-DOMINICUS (NED), Marianne MIDDELTHON (NOR), Ana Maria SANCHEZ (ESP) and Zofia TRUCHANOWICZ (POL) were all members of the International Jury
Women's match racing is a new addition to the Olympic programme for London 2012. It is a highly competitive discipline in the sport of sailing, attracting many top level women sailors around the world. After voting to select the event in 2007, the ISAF Council chose the equipment last year, and a modified version of the Elliott 6m came out on top. The boat is being redesigned by Elliott Marine to specifically suit three women sailing, with changes to the sails, rig and keel design.
The first edition of the Youth Olympic Games, Singapore 2010 will feature a 50/50 gender split, with two boys' and two girls' sailing events. Fifty aspiring young female sailors aged 15-16 years in will compete in the Girls' One Person Dinghy - Byte CII and Girls' Windsurfer - Techno 293 events.
ISAF Women's Sailing microsite - www.sailing.org/women