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 Types of Sailing Races

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Sailing races can take place in almost any water body, but there are several kinds of races that are more prominent, especially in competitive racing. From races between two sailors to races involving over hundreds of boats, find out more about the different kinds of sailing races.

Match Race

A match race sees two identical boats going against each other with the sole objective of being the first to cross the finish line. The fastest boat will then emerge as the winner. While it sounds simple, many different tactics and strategies have to be employed by the sailors in order to give themselves an advantage over their competitors, especially since both boats are identical. The boat with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins. For instance, the boat that arrives first will be awarded one point while the slower boat will receive zero.

The format of this race usually has sailors following a windward or leeward course, and is one of the shorter race formats, lasting only 20 minutes.

Team Race

This type of race normally sees two different teams racing against each other, with both teams usually having two to four boats. While rather similar to match racing, the winning team is not determined solely by arriving at the finish line before their opponent. Instead, the number of points that each boat receives are added together to determine the winner. For instance, the boat that finishes first earns one point, whereas the second boat is awarded two points and so forth. At the end of the race, the points from each boat in both teams are tabulated and the team with the lowest number of points wins.

Team racing is shorter than most match races, lasting around five to 10 minutes. As with match racing, boats used in such races have to be of the same class to ensure a level playing ground for participating teams.

Fleet Race

Fleet racing is the most common form of race in sailing. This type of race can feature up to hundreds of different boats.

One main difference between fleet racing and the previous two types of races is that there are two different formats for the sailors: the first format requires all boats to belong to the same class and is known as the ‘one-design’ format, while the second format sees boats from different classes racing on a handicap basis.

This means that different classes of boats may have adjusted scoring systems. In other fleet races, faster boat classes may have to start slightly later than the slower classes in order to ensure a level playing ground.

While both match racing and team racing normally finish under half an hour, fleet racing does not have a set duration. The scoring system is the same as that of team racing. However, 10 races are normally held first, and the top 10 boats with the lowest scores will then compete in the Medal Race, which is the finishing event of the competition.

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