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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 27, 2021

Olympic sailing: Time to cheer for our very own LT Nikki Barnes!

By MyCG Staff

Support our own Lt. Nikki Barnes as she skippers the Women's 470 in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! Racing starts at 3:45 a.m. EST Wednesday, July 28. 

Barnes and her sailing partner Lara Dallman-Weiss head into the Games ranked 12th in the world. 

Currently stationed at Sector Miami, Barnes started sailing at age six, and told MyCG recently that she is "always on the water."

“I attended the Academy Introductory Mission my junior year of high school," she said, "and after a week of being yelled at and woken up early - but also learning about the missions of the Coast Guard - I fell in love with the Coast Guard." (Read the full story here: LTJG makes service history, will compete in Tokyo Olympics)

You can watch news coverage on NBC Olympic Sailing. Here's when to tune in for the Women's 470:

  • 3:45 a.m. ET Wed., July 28
  • 11:05 p.m. ET Wed., July 28
  • 11:15 p.m. ET Thurs., July 29
  • 11:05 p.m. ET Sat., July 31
  • 11:05 p.m. ET Sun., Aug. 1
  • 2:45 a.m. ET Wed., Aug. 4 (Medal Race)Lara Dallman-Weiss is crewing for Lt. Nikki Barnes in the Women's 470 Sailing during the 2020 Olympics

Each boat is outfitted with a GPS, so you can see Barnes and Dallman-Weiss compared to the other competitors, as well as where they are on the course. For live tracking, visit the 2020 Olympics U.S. Sailing website.


Each race starts with a countdown to the start. The teams know when it's 1 minute and then 30 seconds etc., and try to position themselves on an invisible start line that runs the line of sight from the Committee Boat on one end to a buoy 30 or 40 feet away at the other end. Then, all the teams race around a buoy set course where they sail into the wind sometimes and at other times sail downwind or with the wind coming from their back. They have to adjust their tactics, skills, sail sets, and more to get the best speed while at the same time never hitting another boat even when they round the buoys, of which sometimes three or four teams are trying to do this at once.


Sailing uses the Low Point Scoring System. Meaning a first place gets 1 point, second 2, third 3, etc. So if a team gets all first-place finishes, they will have the lowest points possible and win. One of the worst things to happen is for a team to be over the start line too early in a race, not realize it, and thus not take a penalty turn. This gives them a Black Flag and their score is the number of teams – 21 in this case – plus 1 point or 22 points. That can really take a team way down the scoreboard. Yet, every team can discard 1 highest or worst score, this Black Flag score can often be dropped if it's only one during an event.

Only the top 10 teams go into the Medal Race and it’s a double-point score. For example, the first-place finisher will get 2 points, the second place 4, etc. These points are added to a team's score from the first 10 races. The team with the Lowest Points overall gets the Gold!