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Sailing at the 1920 Antwerpen Summer Games

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Host City: Antwerpen, Belgium
Date Started: July 7, 1920
Date Finished: September 4, 1920
Events: 10

Participants: 101 (100 men and 1 women) from 6 countries
Youngest Participant: NED Frans Hin (14 years, 160 days)
Oldest Participant: NOR Johan Friele (53 years, 220 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 96 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): NOR Norway (11 medals)


The 1920 yachting events were among the most unusual ever conducted in Olympic history. There were 13 events contested, although there were originally 16 events on the schedule. In addition, the 18-foot dinghy event was a 14th event that is usually listed as being held. But research by British Olympic historian Ian Buchanan indicates that with only one entrant, no event was actually held. It is really not certain if the gold medals were awarded to the British crew. Finally, scheduled to be contested were the 9 metre, 1907 rating class, and 8.5 metre, 1919 rating class, but there were no entrants for those two classes.

Only one of the 13 events had more than three boats entered, and only two had more than two boats. Six of the 13 events had only a single boat sailing, although the boats did sailover each day of the scheduled competition. Norway entered almost every event, having the only crew in five events. They thus dominated the sport, winning 7 gold medals and 11 medals overall.

The course for the yachting off Ostende consisted of two courses shaped approximately like equilateral triangles. There was a short triangle of 6 nautical miles (11.1 km.) and a long course of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km.). The courses varied for the races but are described below. All of the Olympic sailing events were conducted in a point-for-place format, 1 point for first place, 2 for second place, 3 for third place, etc., with the lowest total point score winning. The events were limited to two boats per nation in any event. Any ties for places were sailed off in a regatta held on 10 July.

The 1920 Olympics began the practice of holding the yachting events far from the main site. The 1920 yachting was held mostly at Ostende, on the Belgian coast, 100 kilometres from Antwerp. At the end of the 1920 Olympic yachting events, the various Royal Yacht Clubs of Belgium organized another series of races – the International Sailing Regatta. Not directly affiliated with the Olympic Games, it was effectively a series of exhibition races conducted by many of the Olympic yachtsmen. The schedule for this series of events can be found in the chapter entitled “Other Sports and Activities.”