Paralympic Sports A-Z: Sailing

Find out all you need to know about the Paralympic sport of sailing, including the history, rules, classification and equipment.

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Here are five things you need to know about sailing before it makes its fifth Paralympic appearance this year in Rio.

How will it be contested in Rio?

There are three Paralympic sailing classes made up of the one-person keelboat, two-person keelboat and three-person keelboat boats.

Each country is allowed to enter one boat per-class with host Brazil automatically qualifying for each event.

There are no separate male and female competitions as each event is mixed.

There will be a maximum of 16 boats in the one-person event, 11 boats in the two-person event and 14 boats in the three-person event.

What are the types of boats?

While all the events use a keelboat - a boat which uses a permanent keel rather than a centreboard to offer enhanced stability - each of the three events that are going to be contested at Rio 2016 uses a different class of boat.

The one-person event uses a 2.4mR dual-sail boat in which the sailor can be either male or female. It is 4.16m long and weighs 260kg.

A three-sail SKUD-18 boat is used for the two-person event and is 5.8m long with a weight of 400kg. The crew must be made up of a male and a female competitor.

Finally the three-person event uses a two-sail Sonar boat that can be crewed by any combination of male or female sailors. It weighs close to a tonne and is 7m in length.

How is it scored?

Each medal event consists of 11 races – weather permitting – with points available for each race.

Sailors are awarded points depending on the position in which they finish each race, with one point awarded for coming first, two points for finishing second and so on.

At the end of the 11 races, each sailor or team will have their worst individual race score disregarded before the remaining points are added up to form an overall score.

The team with the lowest total points at the end of the race wins the event.

Penalties are awarded to boats that are found to have broken a rule, in which they must perform turns before being allowed to continue around the course.

Is impairment a factor?

A classification system based on impairment which considers four factors – stability, hand function, mobility and vision – is used.

Points are awarded to each sailor on a scale of 1-7 depending on their functionality. Lower points are awarded to sailors with lower levels of functionality and vice versa.

2.4mR (one-person): sailors must have a minimal impairment according to criteria.

SKUD 18 (two-person): sailors must include one crew member who is classified as TPA (Two-Person format Classification A), and the other sailor must be classified as having minimal impairment, TPB (Two Person System Classification B).

Sonar (three-person): the classification points of all three sailors are added up and their total must not exceed 14 points.

Are adaptations allowed?

Yes, adaptations are allowed depending on a sailor’s physical impairments. For example, adapted tillers for steering are allowed for those with a lower level of hand function and seats can be adapted too if sailors with low stability are competing.