Australia has an illustrious history in Olympic sailing. The first Australian Olympic sailors were Alexander “Jock” Sturrock, Len Fenton and Robert French in London 1948. Australia first medalled in sailing two Olympiads later in Melbourne in 1956. Sturrock combined with Dev Mytton and Doug Buxton to win a bronze medal (5.5-Metre class) while Rolly Tasker and John Scott claimed silver after a count-back (Sharpies class). Sturrock competed in a fourth Olympics at Rome 1960 where he was the Australian flagbearer.

The oldest Australian Olympic gold medallist was Bill Northam who, aged almost 60, skippered his crew of Peter O’Donnell and James Sargeant to victory in the 5.5-Metre class at Tokyo 1964. In Munich 1972, John Cuneo with Tom Anderson and John Shaw won the Dragon class, and David Forbes with John Anderson were victorious in the Star class. Shaw and Cuneo later sailed on Southern Cross in the 1974 America's Cup Challenge.

At Montreal 1976, John Bertrand (Finn class) and Ian Ruff with Ian Brown (470) won bronze medals. Bertrand was to gain even greater fame as a yachtsman when he skippered the wing-keeled Australia II in its successful challenge for the America’s Cup in 1983. Australia won more bronze at Los Angeles 1984 through Chris Cairns and Scott Anderson (Tornado class) and another two bronze medals at Barcelona 1992 with Mitch Booth and John Forbes (Tornado class) and on the sailboard (Mistral) with Lars Kleppich. Booth then won silver at Atlanta 1996 with Andrew Landenberger (Tornado class), while Colin Beashel and David Giles (Star class) won a bronze medal.

Australia returned to golden form on Sydney Harbour in 2000 with victories to Tom King and Mark Turnbull (470) and Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell (470). Darren Bundock and John Forbes also claimed a silver medal (Tornado class) and Michael Blackburn won a bronze medal (Laser class).

Athens 2004 was the first time since Seoul 1988 that Australian sailors failed to reach the podium at the Games. Four years later at the Beijing Games, the young pair of Tessa Parkinson and Elise Rechichi overcame a difficult lead-up to the Games to win a spectacular race in the women's 470. On the same day, Malcolm Page and Nathan Wilmot won the gold medal in the men’s 470 class. In the men's Tornado, Darren Bundock added another silver medal to his collection placing second in the race along with partner Glenn Ashby.

Australia continued to show its strength in the sport at the 2012 Games as the Aussies became the most successful team on the waters of Weymouth with three gold medals and one silver medal. Malcolm Page was the only Australian to defend an Olympic title in London when he won gold alongside teammate Mathew Belcher in the 470 class. Page went on to carry the Australian flag at the 2012 Closing Ceremony.

Tom Slingsby made up for a disappointing Beijing campaign to win gold in the laser class while best friends Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen dominated the 49er class to assure themselves of the gold medal before the medal race. The young women’s match racing team of Olivia Price (20) Lucinda Whitty (21) and Nina Curtis (24) took silver on their Olympic debut after an undefeated run through the round robin stage of competition.