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20 June 2012, 10:33 am
Retracing Roots - Atlanta 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition
1996 Olympic Poster
1996 Olympic Poster

Atlanta 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition
Savannah, USA

The Atlanta 1996 Olympic Sailing took place in Savannah, USA, over 240 miles away from the main Olympic park.
The administration base on Tybee Island was created five miles out of town from where another three-mile ferry journey was needed to reach the temporary Olympic Marina on Wilmington Island. Further still was a day marina, built of out barges towed around from the Mississippi, was moored near Williamson Island.

The day marina, the first of its kind to be used at an Olympic Games, enabled athletes to store their boats safely and securely in close proximity to the racecourses, thus eliminating the long sail or tow for all events except the keelboats (Solings and Stars).

Seventy eight nations competed in the sailing and in turn this saw some of the biggest distribution of medals across the nations ever seen. With 30 medals on offer, 22 nations walked away with medals.

Having won the bronze Tornado medal in Barcelona with John Forbes, Mitch Booth became Australia's first sailing multi-medallist. He picked up silver with Andrew Landenberger. Spain's Jose Luis Ballester and Fernando Leon took Tornado gold.

Among the new faces competing and claiming top honours was Mateusz Kusnierewicz winning the Finn gold for Poland, Greece's Nikolas Kaklamanakis took the windsurfing gold with Israel's Gal Fridman taking the bronze.

Spain's Teresa Zabell won a second successive Women's 470 gold with Japan's Alicia Kinoshita and Yumiko Shige in the silver position, Ukrainians Yevhen Braslavets and Ihor Matviyenko took the Men's 470 gold and Lee Lai Shan the Windsurfing Women's medal. Hong Kong was in transition from British colony to autonomous region of China and it was the tiny Asian state's first gold in any sport.

View results here.

Thunderstorms Cause Havoc

The sailors opening ceremony was cancelled an hour in due to thunderstorms, and this turned out to be a trend that would continue as further storms plagued the sailing competition.

Ainslie And Scheidt - Round 1

Heading into the final Laser race at Savannah Ben Ainslie (GBR) trailed Robert Scheidt (BRA) by two points so a battle of wits was about to ensue on the race course.

The pair had fought each other throughout the week sharing five race wins out of ten heading into Race 11.

All Scheidt had to do was maintain a two point lead throughout the race and the gold would be his however Scheidt skilfully finessed an impatient 19-year old Ainslie into a premature start and in the third attempt, under Black Flag, Scheidt took both of them across early.

Scheidt could afford another discard to win the gold, Ainslie couldn't and had to make do with his silver. But fast forward to Sydney 2000, and the tables would turn.

Hubert Raudaschl Takes Appearance Record

Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) bowed out of Olympic Sailing at Atlanta 1996 after making his first appearance at Tokyo 1964.

The Austrians first taste of Olympic medal success was at Mexico City 1968 where he took the Finn silver. Twelve years later he picked up his second medal, and what was to be his last, with silver in the Star class with Karl Ferstl.

Alongside Canada's Equestrian competitor Ian Millar the pair currently hold the record for most Olympic Games competed in. However this is set to be broken by the Canadian who has been selected for the Canadian Olympic team.

Trapezoid Course Used For The First Time

In 1996 the trapezoid course was used for the first time at an Olympic Sailing Competition. The Laser, Europe, 470, Soling and Mistral were the first classes to use the course layout.

What They Said

"I thought I was going to sink, there was so much rain bucketing down," said Finn sailor Richard Clarke (CAN) after the first day of racing.

Star Gold medallist Torben Grael (BRA) said, "This is my third medal at the Olympics and it was a great relief to win the Stars after our poor performance in Barcelona."

"I sailed with a second hand mast that I bought from Frederik Look (SWE). I could not afford a new one so I decided to buy a second-hand one from a good guy," said Finn silver medallst Sebastien Godefroid (BEL).

The Future

The Olympic Games headed to Sydney, Australia for the 2000 Olympic Games with sailing taking place in the iconic Sydner Harbour with its iconic buildings and bridge. The British team topped the sailing medal table for the first time since the London 1908 Olympic Games.

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