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Updated at 1:08 pm on 23 July 2012
Sailing was first contested at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, then again at the 1908 London Games and has been on every Olympic programme since that year.
Women have always been allowed to compete in Olympic sailing with men, but separate women's events were introduced in Seoul in 1988. At the 2008 Beijing Games, the sailing programme had men's, women's and open events, but this year in London open events are not being held.
Jack Cropp was the first New Zealand sailor to win a medal, taking gold at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. New Zealand has won 16 medals in sailing and, along with rowing, is New Zealand's second-most medalled sport, behind athletics with 20.
Fifteen sailors are representing New Zealand at the London Games.
Sailing is a sport New Zealand has excelled in in the past, and in 2012 the women's team of Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie are the country's best hopes of gaining a medal.
They will team up in the 470 class, after winning the International 470 Spring Cup and the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in June this year.
The pair finished third at the 2011 Perth World Championships and sailed together in the junior 420 class in 2007, winning that world championship event.
Aleh, 26, is competing at her second Olympics, after finishing seventh in the laser radial at the 2008 Beijing Games, while Powrie, 24, will be competing at a Games for the first time.
Andrew Murdoch is also a medal contender in the laser class, after consistently placing near the top of the field since becoming a senior sailor.
The 30-year-old is competing at his second Olympics, after placing fifth at the Beijing Games.
In 2011, he came third at the world champs in Perth, and this year was ninth at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in June and third in the Semaine Olympique Francaise laser event in April.
Windsurfer JP Tobin, a first-time Olympian, could also be a medal contender in London.
The 25-year-old gained his Olympic spot after finishing one place ahead of New Zealander and reigning Olympic champion Tom Ashley at the 2011 Perth World Championships, finishing fifth. In March, he was third at the RS:X windsurfing World Championships in the Bay of Cadiz.
New Zealand is only able to send one windsurfer to London and this year's Games will be the last to feature the sport, as it will be replaced by kiteboarding. New Zealand has won seven Olympic medals in windsurfing.
Men's: Andrew Murdoch (laser), Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er), Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner (keelboat star), Jason Saunders and Paul Snow-Hansen (470), Dan Slater (heavyweight dinghy finn), JP Tobin (windsurfing).
Women's: Sara Winther (laser radial), Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (470), Jenna Hansen, Stephanie Hazard (captain) and Susannah Pyatt (match racing team).
Some information sourced from www.olympic.org.nz
The sailing venues are at Weymouth and Portland in Dorset, on England's south coast. Competition runs from 29 July to 11 August.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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