Stephan van den Berg: the first Olympic windsurfing gold medalist | Photo: ANP

In 1984, windsurfing became the youngest sport ever to be included in the Olympic Games. Since then, sailboarding has always been part of the Olympic sailing competition.

The young sailing class made its debut at the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics with a men's only regatta.

The first ever Olympic sailboard was the Windglider, the one-design windsurf board manufactured in Europe by Fred Ostermann.

The Windglider used a 6.5 m2 sail, and the class rules didn't allow harnesses. The daggerboard weighed around four kilograms and was carried over shoulder during the downwind legs.

Windglider: the Olympic windsurfing class for Los Angeles 1984

Windsurfing's first Olympic regatta was a highly tactical, nine nautical mile course challenge won by Stephan van den Berg, from the Netherlands. It was a race for the fittest.

Four years late, in the Seoul 1988 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose the Lechner Division II, a windsurfing class with 6.7 m2 sails, round-bottomed 13-foot boards, and excellent upwind performances in light wind conditions.

Lechner Division II: the Olympic windsurfing class for Seoul 1988

The IOC had two options: the Lechner Division II, made in Austria, and the Davidson, made in Sweden. The reason for the choice was a mystery to most, but it was hinted that North Sails influenced the final decision.

The organization chose Pusan as the sailing venue. But the spot was so windy that there was a lot of equipment damage and rescues for many classes, resulting in many DNFs and protests.

Bruce Kendall, who had previously won bronze in Los Angeles, managed to win the gold medal in South Korea.

For the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, the organizers kept the Lechner class, but modified it by bringing the centerboard and mast track further back, and adding a larger, camber-induced 7.3 m2 sail produced by NeilPryde.

Lechner: the Olympic windsurfing class for Barcelona 1992

Despite the polluted waters and equipment failures, windsurfing presented its first female Olympic medalists. Barbara Kendall, Bruce's sister, won gold. In the men's competition was taken out by French sailor Franck David.

Between 1996 and 2004, the IOC opted for the Mistral One Design (MOD) class, and the decision gave Olympic windsurfing a huge boost as a universal sport.

Mistral One Design: the Olympic windsurfing class for Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, and Athens 2004

However, in 1997, Mistral decided to modify the Olympic equipment to make it more durable and shifted the production back to Europe. But the supply of Olympic gear didn't meet demand, and the athletes requested a drastic change.

The RS:X Class, developed by NeilPryde, features a 9.5 m2 sail (8.5 m2 sail for female sailors) and delivers a compromise between traditional raceboards, and Formula Windsurfing boards.

The RS:X sailboard equipment featured in Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016.

RS:X: the Olympic windsurfing class for Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016

Windsurfing in the Olympic Games | List of Medalists

Los Angeles 1984 (Windglider)

Men
Gold: Stephan van den Berg (NED)
Silver: Scott Steele (USA)
Bronze: Bruce Kendall (NZL)

Seoul 1988 (Lechner Division II)

Men
Gold: Bruce Kendall (NZL)
Silver: Jan Boersma (AHO)
Bronze: Mike Gebhardt (USA)

Barcelona 1992 (Lechner)

Men
Gold: Franck David (FRA)
Silver: Mike Gebhardt (USA)
Bronze: Lars Kleppich (AUS)

Women
Gold: Barbara Kendall (NZL)
Silver: Zhang Xiaodong (CHN)
Bronze: Dorien de Vries (NED)

Atlanta 1996 (Mistral One Design)

Men
Gold: Nikolaos Kaklamanakis (GRE)
Silver: Carlos Espinola (ARG)
Bronze: Gal Fridman (ISR)

Women
Gold: Lee Lai Shan (HKG)
Silver: Barbara Kendall (NZL)
Bronze: Alessandra Sensini (ITA)

Sydney 2000 (Mistral One Design)

Men
Gold: Christoph Sieber (AUT)
Silver: Carlos Espinola (ARG)
Bronze: Aaron McIntosh (NZL)

Women
Gold: Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
Silver: Amelie Lux (GER)
Bronze: Barbara Kendall (NZL)

Athens 2004 (Mistral One Design)

Men
Gold: Gal Fridman (ISR)
Silver: Nikolaos Kaklamanakis (GRE)
Bronze: Nick Dempsey (GBR)

Women
Gold: Faustine Merret (FRA)
Silver: Yin Jian (CHN)
Bronze: Alessandra Sensini (ITA)

Beijing 2008 (RS:X)

Men
Gold: Tom Ashley (NZL)
Silver: Julien Bontemps (FRA)
Bronze: Shahar Tzuberi (ISR)

Women
Gold: Yin Jian (CHN)
Silver: Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
Bronze: Bryony Shaw (GBR)

London 2012 (RS:X)

Men
Gold: Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED)
Silver: Nick Dempsey (GBR)
Bronze: Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL)

Women
Gold: Marina Alabau (ESP)
Silver: Tuuli Petäjä (FIN)
Bronze: Zofia Klepacka (POL)

Rio 2016 (RS:X)

Men
Gold: Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED)
Silver: Nick Dempsey (GBR)
Bronze: Pierre Le Coq (FRA)

Women
Gold: Charline Picon (FRA)
Silver: Chen Peina (CHN)
Bronze: Stefania Elfutina (RUS)

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