Sailboat racing is a nautical event that is indulged for fun or for sport. The sport has grown significantly over the past few years, with regatta races being introduced into the Olympics. A regatta is the term coined for any sailing competition, whether it is a fishing regatta or a skilled regatta. Sailing competitions usually consists of several races in which the vessel that garnishes the most points in the entirety of the competition is the winner.
The races are wide-ranging in variety and include all types of vessels from the mere dinghy to the mega yachts. Most of the races take place around buoys or markers of a similar nature. The repertories of vessels used for racing is extensive and inclusive of specialty built racing craft, pleasure yachts, catamarans, trimarans and even dinghies. The general conduct of these vessels while in competition mode is governed by the Racing Rules of Sailing. These rules also govern the conduct of windsurfing, kite-surfing, model vessel racing and all other forms of open water racing.
Short course racing
In protected waters where you can experience the competitive edge of buoy racing, buoy racing or ‘harbour racing’ is run over one or more laps of a three-sided course, demarcated by buoys. The course starts from an invisible line drawn from a ‘committee boat’ to the starting marker. The crews are advised of the exact time of the start of the race by warning signals, which are intermittent over a period of time. These races are often very short, with an endurance period ranging from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. Each crew aims to cross the starting line at top speed in order to maintain a lead on their opponents. There are multitudes of sailing craft that can participate in races, including catamarans, sailboards, keelboats and dinghies and other vessel types.
Yacht racing or inshore racing is not conducted in protected waters, but generally from a landmass to a neighbouring island or within sight of a landmass. These races usually are usually conducted overnight or during daylight hours. Some races may actually be a series of inshore races of varying distance, testing the skill of the crew. The use of safety and stability equipment is dependent on the location, but is warranted more than with harbour racing. Also dependant on the location and the duration, the crew may require sleeping gear, portable water and navigation equipment.
Fleet races can have hundreds of vessels in a particular race. A regatta is considered an event when it consists of three or more counted races. The positions of each vessel are added in the compilation of final scores, in which the lowest scoring vessel wins.
Match racing is a dual vessel race where craft compete against each other. This type of competition is used in the America’s Cup race. The object of the competitor is to arrive at the finish line before their opponent, but that does not necessarily mean getting there in record time.
Team racing is so called because the race is between two teams, with each team consisting of three vessels each. It is inclusive, but not limited to, a similar technique found in match racing. However, this race has other components that dictates the overall scoring process. The team with a score of ten or less points wins the competition. So in essence, a three-man team scoring 1-2-3 or 1-3-4 or any such combination that equates to less than ten, and less than their opponent’s play combination, is deemed the winner.