Sailing races: What are they, how do they differ, and how to become a member
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A Brief History
The first international regatta for a designated prize took place around the Isle of Wight in 1851. It became known as the America's Cup after the American yacht "America" that won, much to the surprise of the British
By the early 20th century, sailing wasn’t just for royalty. In 1900, sailing was added to the II Olympics in France, signaling the entry of amateurs
1907 marked a significant year when international representatives formed the International Sailing Union (now World Sailing). They also adopted universal sailing competition rules, which are:
Equal conditions for all participants
Fair competition
Safe competition
Consequently, sailing races sprouted globally, involving diverse sailboats and formats
The main methods of classifying races
Sailboat type: yachts, catamarans, boards and kites
A wide range of vessels can participate in sailing races. The only condition is that they must move only with a sail (for other boats, after all, the absence of wind is not an obstacle)

Yachts are single-hull and multi-hull boats (catamarans and trimarans) and differ not only in appearance but also in their behavior on the water, as well as in their strengths and weaknesses. Catamarans are usually faster, but can not sail closer to the wind
As a rule, monohulls and multihulls do not compete with each other, but in the course of the development of the sail, the opposite situation has also arisen. In the 1988 America's Cup, for example, the Americans built a catamaran in response to the New Zealanders, the Americans made a catamaran and eventually won

Windsurfers and kiters are also considered sailors. So at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the sailing competition program will include sailboats, windsurfing and kites

The recognition of these sports devices with sails was and is difficult: Thus, many traditional sailors still try to prove that kites are only indirectly related to sailing races. However, the official recognition by World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee suggests otherwise
Season: Sailing regattas in summer and winter
You can race on sailboats not only in the heat, but also in snowy regions. Such regattas are, of course, especially popular in the Nordic countries. Winter fireballs include iceboats, winter kites and windsurfing

Iceboats are thought to have emerged as early as the 18th century, when the Dutch began attaching skates to small sailboats and successfully navigating them on the ice. Progress has led to the emergence of a specific cruciform design that bears little resemblance to its maritime origins. Bouers compete under similar, but not the same, rules as conventional yachts. The distance is also different, as their speed can reach 80-90 km/h
The history of winter windsurfing and kiting is very similar to the history of ice yachts. Athletes, missing the summer races, developed designs with skates and even (in the case of kiters) skis and snowboards that allow them to race on snow and ice
Distance: coastal racing (in-shore) and racing on the open sea (off-shore)
Coastal races can be divided into windward-leeward (on a closed course with a start against the wind) and coastal races (cross-country or along the coast)

The coastal regattas in the windward-leeward format are somewhat reminiscent of circuit races. A short distance from the marina, a special course is set out, marked with buoys and shaped like a loop or a trapeze. As a rule, the athletes start against the wind, round the buoys several times, sail down the wind and climb back up against the wind. The finish is usually in the same place as the start and may coincide with the start line. The boats that take part in such races often do not have even minimal equipment (we are talking about a latrine and a galley) and are not designed for long sea passages

Off-shore regattas, like ocean races, involve much more seaworthy and better equipped yachts that follow a specific route. Coastal races are usually contested over relatively short distances, averaging 20-50 miles. Offshore races involve long distances, far from the coast, across oceans. The route of such races usually goes around large geographical features (for example, the Fastnet Lighthouse). Buoys (and even then not always) only indicate the start and finish lines
Format: Fleet racing, team racing and match racing
Fleet races are what we see most often. Many yachts start at the same time, and the one that arrives first in real or recalculated time wins

A match race is a duel race in which two yachts participate. There is always a winner and a loser at the finish line. Accordingly, one team (or sailor) gets one point and the other gets zero points. Usually such races are held in the coastal zone
Team races are dueling races in which more than one boat (usually two or four) competes against each other. There are several variations, such as a relay race, but recently the format where two complete teams are on the water at the same time has become the most common. Someone is exclusively engaged in holding back the rivals (in this team race it is similar to a match race), while the teammates try to sneak to the front. For each arrival, all participants receive a certain number of points. In case of a tie in points, the team whose participant arrived last loses. Therefore, the team whose representative arrived first does not always win in the end
Team: individual, pair and team races
There are yachts where you can compete alone (you are both the captain and the sailor), for example, the Mini Transat Solo Ocean Race. There are yachts and catamarans where you can sail together, or you can sail with a large group of friends on a cruiser. In this case, each sailor is responsible for one thing (tracking competitors, working on sheets, setting a spinnaker or gennaker on the forecastle, steering or furling). Fleet racing is best for beginners.
New technologies: real and virtual races
In the era of pandemics, virtual races have become very popular. They usually mimic real races: the America's Cup or Olympic yacht classes, and are a good exercise to practice tactics and strategy and better understand the intricacies of racing on real sailboats
Fleet: Monotype and Handicap Racing
Monotype races can be simplistically divided into strict and non-strict. Strict monotypes mean identical boats with identical sails or with very strict design restrictions. They may even be built exclusively in one factory, an illustrative example is the Olympic "Laser" class. Non-strict monotypes have design restrictions only on a number of parameters (hull length, mast height, sail area). In monotype races, whoever finishes first wins. If there are several races, places are distributed according to the number of points scored
At the beginning of the 20th century, racing sailboats appeared that were built taking into account certain measurement formulas that determine the contours of the boat, the so-called shaping formulas. When developing such sailboats, designers immediately consider in which division the boat will compete and what design features it should have. The first monotypes come from such sailboats, which become more and more similar due to the natural development of beginners
Around the middle of the 20th century statistical systems appeared, in which the coefficient of the sailboats was assigned depending on the average results and average speed in different weather conditions at regattas. In the end, mathematics won out: today, in many major regattas, sailboats are assigned coefficients based on complex mathematical modeling of their behavior in real races
Sailing race rules might seem complex and secondary to the main goal (beating everyone). But sailing isn't just about speed, it's a tactical game against opponents
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