The 49er is a double-handed twin trapeze skiff type sailing dinghy. The two crew have different roles, with the helm making many tactical decisions, as well as steering, and the crew doing most of the sail control. The design, by Julian Bethwaite, the son of Frank Bethwaite is revolutionary. The boat was selected by the International Sailing Federation after a series of trials for a high performance two person skiff and has been in every Olympics since its debut in the Sydney Olympics of 2000.
The 49er was selected for the Olympics largely due to the exhilarating nature of the boat, allowing sailors and spectators alike to experience the thrills (and spills) of high performance sailing. Sailors must be at peak physical condition to sail the boat properly, and at speeds of well over 20 knots crashes can be quite spectacular. To prevent accident and injury both skipper and crew must be experienced and spend lots time getting to know the boat and learning to control a dinghy that is constantly on the edge of control.