Host City: Atlanta, United States
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: August 2, 1996
Participants: 458 (358 men and 100 women) from 78 countries
Youngest Participant: Daniel Glomb (15 years, 213 days)
Oldest Participant: György Wossala (54 years, 258 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 48 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Brazil (3 medals)
It was Olympic yachting in 1996, but this was the last time the sport would be called this at the Olympics, as from 2000 it has been called Olympic sailing. The change was made because yachting had an elitist connotation, which the sport was trying to shed. As in 1992 there were 10 events, with three each for men and women, and four mixed events. The trend was still towards smaller and lighter boats as the Flying Dutchman class, or two-person heavyweight dinghy, was dropped from the program, after it had been an Olympic event since 1960. It was replaced by another one-person dinghy event, the Laser, which was contested in 1996 as a mixed event.
With Atlanta completely landlocked, and not close to the ocean, the 1996 yachting events were held on Wassaw Sound, a bay near Savannah, Georgia, and about 250 miles (402 km) from Atlanta. The venue was within the path of Hurricane Bertha which was to make landfall just before the start of the Olympics, but fortunately Savannah was spared any damage. Wassaw Sound is most famous as the site of a hydrogen bomb that was jettisoned from an American B-47 bomber in 1958 after a mid-air collision. The bomb has never been recovered.
The scoring system was changed in 1996. Since 1968 a modified point-for-place scoring system had been used, but in 1996 it was changed to a purely point-for-place system. In 1996 the two worst race scores were thrown out, which was also different from previous years when only one score was discarded. To break ties, the total of all race scores are used. If a boat did not finish, was disqualified, or did not start a race, it was awarded points equal to the number of boats entered in the event, plus one, or the highest score possible. The number of races in each class was increased with most classes scheduled to race 11 times, although the windsurfers only had nine races for both men and women. Because of wind conditions, the men’s Finn and the mixed Star classes only raced 10 times. Soling was again contested as a series of head-to-head match races after a series of qualifying fleet races.
With so many different events, 22 nations won yachting medals in 1996, by far the most to date (after 14 in 1988), and the most ever through 2012. The 10 events were won by eight different nations, with Brazil and Spain winning two each. Brazil won the most medals with three, while six different nations won two each – Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, the Ukraine, and the United States.