Considering the fact that about two-thirds of our planet is covered with water, it isn't really that much of a surprise to hear that sailing as a means of transport has been around for centuries! Ancient Arab, Chinese, Indian and European civilisation, all used sail boats extensively for getting from place to place.
But what is amazing is that even sport-sailing began in the 17th century in Holland. from there it was introduced into England by Charles ll, and eventually spread around the world. Sailing was included at the Olympics for the first in 1900 at the games i paris, france. For reasons unknown, it wasn't a part of the Olympics in 1904, but has been a part of every Olympics since then.
As in the case of many Olympics sports, sailing too was initially a men's event and women's sailing event was introduced only a few year ago in 1992. There isn't any particular kind of boat that is used in competitive sailing. Different sailors use different boats. Also there are hundreds of different kinds of sailing events.
However all these can be broadly put into three main categories. The first category is that of 'one-design' sailing. Here only similar boats compete against each other. The next is the handicap category where different kinds of boats compete in the same race. And the last category is called the 'rating' category where various factors of competing boats boats(like sail size and boat weight) are taken into account.