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Paralympic Sailing began to be practiced in the early years of the 1980s in several countries, almost simultaneously. However, it was in 1983 that the creation of the 2.4mR boat in Sweden made the sport very popular throughout Europe. This small sailboat has been used by people with disabilities in all competitions.
In 1988, the International Handicap Sailing Committee (IHSC) was established. Two years later, with the support of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the sport was included, as a demonstration, in the programme of the World Games for People with Disabilities.
The sport was eventually recognized by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF, at that time still known by the acronym IYRU) in 1991 and the IHSC changed its name to the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS). The following year a championship was organized parallel to the Paralympic Games in Barcelona, as a way to promote the sport.
Inclusion in the Paralympic programme happened in the Atlanta 1996 Games, as an exhibition. Given its broad acceptance, sailing became a medal sport four years later, in Sydney, with individual competitions, in the 2.4mR class, and in trios, aboard Sonar.
In 2008 in Beijing, contests began in SKUD 18 boats for people with severe disabilities. Only mixed doubles sail in this boat, paired like this: a helmsman with severe disability (TPA, from Two-Person boat A) and a bowman with slight disability (TPB, Two-Person boat B).
In Sailing, athletes with physical and visual disabilities can compete in the same boat, provided they meet the eligibility and points criteria established by the IFDS. As well as these systems, there are other adaptations to ISAF rules for Paralympic Sailing competitions. As in the conventional sport, regattas are held, and the boat with the best results over the days of competition wins the gold medal.