GREAT Britain is the most successful nation in Olympic Sailing history, with more gold medals won than any other nation.

Team GB’s sailors have topped the medal table at the last three Olympic Games.

The first Olympic sailing – or yachting, as it was known up to and including 1996 – events were conducted in Paris in 1900, although some noted historians have questioned the legitimacy of those events as Olympic events.

London 1908 saw sailing commence its unbroken run as an Olympic sport.

Since then, the classes of competing boats and scoring systems have seen many changes.

Dorset’s Rodney Pattisson, pictured left, won gold in the Flying Dutchman class in Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and took silver in Montreal in 1976, making him Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor until Ben Ainslie came along Women have always been permitted to sail in the Olympic regatta but events exclusively for women sailors were introduced Barcelona 1992.

At the Sydney 2000 Games, Britain’s sailors achieved three gold and two silver medals.

British Sailing Team leader Stephen ‘Sparky’ Park then led the team to the Athens 2004 Games, where Team GB’s sailors achieved two gold, a silver and two bronze medals.

At the Beijing 2008 Games, Britain’s sailors continued the country’s reign with a record four gold medals, one silver and a bronze – including the Yngling team of Sarah Ayton , Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson , pictured above.

The team’s target for the home Games is a conservative four medals but with top contenders in each of the 10 classes, it could be much more.