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The Top 10 Most Epic Sailing Races in the World

Jacob Collier

January 26, 2024

‍ Key Takeaways

  • The world's most epic sailing races challenge competitors with extreme conditions.
  • These top 10 sailing events attract participants from experienced professionals.
  • The races are not only thrilling for participants but also create memorable experiences.

‍ Are you looking for the top-most epic sailing races in the world? Let’s walk you through races that might strike your fancy and make you want to try.

The best epic sailing races are the Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup, Barcolana Regatta, Fastnet Race, Vendée Globe, Transpac Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Around the Island Race, Cowes Week, and Cape2Rio Yacht Race. These races define sailing's pinnacle of challenge and adventure.

As an avid sailor with decades of firsthand experience and a deep passion for the sport, I've navigated the world's most challenging waters. My expertise and insights into these epic sailing races are rooted in a genuine love for the sea.

Table of contents

‍ The Top Most Epic Sailing Races in World Racing

Sailing races have long captured the imagination of sailors and enthusiasts alike, showcasing the skill, endurance, and prowess of competitors as they navigate some of the world's most challenging waters. Uniting past and present, these epic sailing events not only pay homage to the golden age of sailing but also push the boundaries of modern technology and tactics with breathtaking competition.

As the world's top sailors and vessels gather to partake in these races , fans and spectators are treated to memorable performances on the open seas. These events draw sailors of all levels, from experienced professionals to amateur weekend warriors, all dreaming of triumph in the ultimate tests of skill, strategy, and courage.

Here's a table comparing the key features of the top epic sailing races in the world:

Race Location Distance (Approx.) Race Type Notable Challenge
Global 45,000+ Nautical Miles Around-the-World Extreme conditions, Southern Ocean leg
Varies N/A Match Racing Cutting-edge yacht technology, historic rivalry
Gulf of Trieste, Italy 16 nautical miles Round-the buoys race The mass race starts with over 5000 boats at the starting
Cowes, England 605 Nautical Miles Offshore Fast-changing weather, rocky Irish west coast
Global 24,000+ Nautical Miles Solo, Non-stop Solo circumnavigation, extreme isolation
Los Angeles to Honolulu 2,225 Nautical Miles Offshore Tradewind sailing, Pacific crossing
Malta ~606 Nautical Miles Offshore Mediterranean winds, scenic course
Isle of Wight, England ~50 Nautical Miles Inshore Challenging tidal currents, iconic coastline
Cowes, Isle of Wight, England N/A Multi-class regatta Large fleet sizes with over 2000 boats participating
Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro ~3,600 Nautical Miles Offshore Atlantic crossing, diverse conditions

1. The Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the most epic sailing races in the world. Spanning nearly 45,000 nautical miles, it tests the stamina and skill of the world's best sailors. With its route incorporating the planet's most challenging waters, this race has a rich history and significance in the realm of sailboat racing.

Race Distance

The Volvo Ocean Race, previously known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, covers a staggering 45,000 nautical miles, making it a sailing marathon on the water. The race is held every three to four years and attracts professional sailors who aim to tackle this grueling course.

Route Challenges

The race route poses a multitude of challenges to participants. From navigating the chilly Southern Ocean to maneuvering around treacherous Cape Horn, sailors face diverse and unforgiving conditions continuously.

Some of the route challenges include:

  • Dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean
  • Tackling strong winds and rough seas at Cape Horn
  • Enduring the doldrums near the Equator
  • Managing tight and tactical routes through the Mediterranean

Historical Significance

The Volvo Ocean Race was initially started in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race and has been held every few years since then. The race is a prestigious event attracting Olympic champions, record-breakers, and pioneers from the sailing world.

The Ocean Race is currently the world's longest and toughest professional sporting event, and winning the race is the ultimate dream for any professional sailor.

One of the most significant aspects of this race is that it pushes endurance and technology to new heights. Innovations in areas like set sail design, navigation, and boat construction are often stimulated by the demands of the race.

2. America's Cup

America's Cup

One of the biggest races on the international sailing calendar, the America's Cup is a test of skill and endurance for sailors. It also showcases technological advancements and human achievement, especially in maritime technology. The race's historical significance and the unique challenges it presents make it one of the most epic sailing races in the world, attracting the best talent and capturing the imagination of sailing enthusiasts worldwide.

The America's Cup is one of the most prestigious sailing races in the world, attracting top talent and showcasing fascinating innovations in yacht design. The race distance varies depending on the specific competition and location, but regardless of the length, it's always a test of skill and endurance for both the defending champion and the challengers.

The America's Cup race route presents numerous challenges for sailors. Changing weather conditions, difficult currents, demanding tactics and maneuvers, as well as the complexity of operating high-performance sailing yachts make this race very demanding.

Each edition offers unique challenges due to the specific venue, but all of them push sailors to their limits, showcasing their expertise and adaptability.

The America's Cup has a rich history dating back to 1851, when it was originally known as the "R.Y.S. £100 Cup." It was first awarded by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom, won by a schooner named "America."

As the oldest international sporting trophy, the America's Cup holds a special place in the world of sailing and attracts the best of the best, including notable sailors like Sir Ben Ainslie. As for other sailing events on a global scale, races like the Kiel Week and SailGP Series have their own unique characteristics and challenges.

Each race contributes to the rich tapestry of competitive sailing, but the King’s Cup stands out as the pinnacle of the sport, showcasing the epitome of human achievement and ingenuity in the world of sailboat racing.

Some key facts about the America's Cup and other sailing races include:

  • Defender: The current holder of the America's Cup.
  • Challenger: The teams contesting the current holder of the America's Cup.
  • Kiel Week: A prestigious annual sailing event in Germany that is considered the largest sailing event in the world.
  • SailGP Series: A high-speed, global sailing championship featuring cutting-edge technology and intense competition.

3. Barcolana Regatta, Italy

Barcolana Regatta

The Barcolana Regatta is a mass start sailing race held annually in early October in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy, since 1969. Over 5000 boats of various sizes participate in the 16-nautical mile course around weather marks and inflatable buoys. What makes Barcelona unique is its record-breaking mass start, where all boats cross the starting line simultaneously, creating a spectacular sight. It is the largest sailboat race in the world by number of participants.

The main race of the Barcolana Regatta is held over a set distance of 16 nautical miles. All boats sail around a rectangular course in the Gulf of Trieste, rounding six weather marks and navigating through a narrow channel in the middle of the race. With over 5000 boats racing simultaneously over this distance, coordination of the mass start and finish is a major logistical challenge for organizers.

The 16-nautical mile course contains several navigational obstacles that add difficulty. Boats must round six designated weather marks in the Gulf while avoiding other vessels in the massive starting fleet. Navigating the narrow channel that splits the course is especially tricky with thousands of boats around.

Historic Significant

The Barcolana Regatta holds the world record for the largest sailing race by number of participants, with over 5000 boats taking part in the mass start each year. When it began in 1969 in Trieste, Italy, its innovative format of a mass simultaneous start for such a huge fleet racing was truly pioneering and helped make the event iconic. Over the past 50+ years, the Barcolana has grown exponentially in scale and popularity, leaving its indelible mark on the sailing calendar.

4. Fastnet Race

The Fastnet Race, also known as the Rolex Fastnet Race , is one of the most iconic and challenging sailing races in the world. This prestigious event, which takes place every two years, attracts sailors from around the globe who dream of tackling its challenging route and making their mark in sailing history.

The Fastnet Race covers a distance of approximately 608 nautical miles, making it a demanding and thrilling experience for participants. Competing yachts must navigate a complex route that includes several strategic waypoints and natural obstacles.

The Fastnet Race is known for its distinctive route, which begins in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and travels along the southern coast of England towards Land's End. It then heads out to the Irish Sea, where competitors must round the legendary Fastnet Rock before heading back towards the finish line in Plymouth.

Some of the key challenges along the route include:

  • Navigating the Solent: A notoriously tricky stretch of water, the Solent is filled with strong currents and heavy shipping traffic that can be difficult to maneuver through.
  • Tackling Land's End: Rounding this famous headland often presents unpredictable wind and sea conditions that can test even the most experienced sailors.
  • Rounding Fastnet Rock: Located 12 miles off the coast of Ireland, Fastnet Rock is both a breathtaking sight and a formidable navigational challenge. Known as the "Teardrop of Ireland," it marks the halfway point of the race and is a notorious spot for strong tides and rough seas.

The Fastnet Race has a rich history dating back to 1925, when it was first organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the New York Yacht Club. Since then, it has grown in popularity and prestige, attracting an increasingly diverse fleet of boats and participants. Today, it is considered one of the most significant offshore races in the world, with sailors from various backgrounds and skill levels taking part in the event.

Notable moments in Fastnet Race history include:

  • 1979 Disaster: The 1979 race is remembered for a tragic storm that claimed the lives of 15 sailors . This event led to numerous safety improvements within the sport of sailing, ultimately making offshore races safer for future participants.
  • Record-breaking Races: The Rolex Fastnet Race 2023 saw exceptional competition and remarkable performances, with several records being broken throughout the event.

Here’s a table showing the Fastest Finishing Times in Recent Fastnet Races:

Year Yacht Time (DD:HH: MM)
2019 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 1:04:02:26
2021 Skorpios 1:18:55:20
2023 Caro 1:07:55:50

5. Vendée Globe

Vendée Globe

The Vendée Globe is a prestigious single-handed, round-the-world yacht race that takes place every four years. It is known for being one of the most grueling, most challenging sailing races, attracting the best sailors from around the world.

The Vendée Globe covers approximately 24,000 nautical miles, making it one of the longest sailboat races in the world, according to the Guinness World Record. Sailors typically spend about nine months at sea navigating a demanding course that takes them through multiple climate zones and oceans. The race’s solitary nature adds to the challenge, as sailors must rely on their own sailing skills and resilience to endure long periods of isolation and danger.

This table shows the Vendée Globe Race Distance

Distance Unit
24,000 Nautical Miles

The Vendée Globe is known for its treacherous route that poses a variety of challenges along the way. Competitors must face the unpredictable weather and treacherous seas of the Southern Ocean, which circles the three capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin, and Horn.

They also sail through the notoriously dangerous waters of the North and South Atlantic Oceans, often dealing with intense storms and rapidly challenging conditions.

The Vendée Globe race was first held in 1989-1990, inspired by the 1968 Golden Globe race. The race has since grown in popularity, with each edition drawing more competitors and spectators. With its challenging course and demanding conditions, the Vendée Globe has earned the title of the "world's toughest sailing race" .

Competitors in the race have reached remarkable milestones and set new records for sailing accomplishments, such as the fastest circumnavigation or the highest number of consecutive race completions.

In the race's history, there have been numerous stories of heroism and camaraderie among the sailors. For instance, in the 2020 race, the eventual winner Yannick Bestaven was awarded time redress for his role in the rescue of fellow competitor Kevin Escoffier , demonstrating that even in the harshest of conditions, human connections and shared experiences remain at the heart of the sailing community.

6. Transpac Race

The Transpac Race is a prestigious and challenging sailing season event in the world. It offers participants a chance to test their skills and resolve against the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

The Transpacific Yacht Race, commonly known as the Transpac, covers an impressive distance of approximately 2,225 nautical miles. This long journey begins from San Pedro near Los Angeles, California, and ends at Diamond Head, just off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii. Sailing across the Pacific Ocean is a true test of endurance and strategy for all participants.

The Transpac presents a variety of daunting challenges for sailors, including:

  • Trade Winds: Competitors must navigate through the North Pacific High, a region of high atmospheric pressure that results in light and variable winds. This can be a significant barrier to progress as finding optimum wind conditions becomes crucial.
  • Weather Systems: Sailors may encounter unpredictable shifts in weather conditions. Tropical storms or Pacific cyclones can develop, and participants have to be prepared to adapt their strategies accordingly.
  • Ocean Currents: Ocean currents, such as the California Current and North Equatorial Current, can either aid or hinder progress. It is essential for sailors to understand these currents and their effects on the race.

Since its inception in 1906, the Transpac has showcased the resilience and determination of sailors from around the world. Among its notable achievements are:

  • Fastest Finishes: In 2017, two records were broken. The ORMA 60 trimaran, Mighty Merloe, set the fully crewed multi-hull elapsed time record at four days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, and 30 seconds . Additionally, the monohull yacht Comanche established a new fully crewed monohull elapsed time record of 5 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 26 seconds.
  • Long-Standing Participants: Certain individuals have exhibited remarkable dedication to the race. Roy P. Disney and Gary Weisman each participated in 25 Transpac match races between 1969 and 2021.
  • Youthful Vigor: The youngest crew members to participate in the Transpac were Larry Folsom Jr. (11 years and 35 days old) in 1975 and Virginia Munsey (11 years and 42 days old) in 1957.

7. Rolex Middle Sea Race

Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is undoubtedly one of the most epic sailing races in the world. This prestigious, classic yacht race features a diverse range of sailing conditions, presenting unique challenges for participating sailors and their high-tech racing yachts. The race has a prestigious history and is considered a favorite among sailing enthusiasts.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race consists of a 606-nautical mile (1,122 km) course, testing sailors' abilities, endurance, and navigational skills. The race, therefore, stands out as a rigorous test of sailing prowess and a true adventure for those daring enough to join the challenge.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is its diverse and challenging route. The race starts and finishes in the historic Grand Harbour of Malta and navigates around the world's beautiful Mediterranean Sea, featuring some of the most stunning vistas this region has to offer.

The race takes sailors around Sicily, through the Strait of Messina, around the volcanic Aeolian Islands, past Pantelleria and Lampedusa before the final stretch back to Malta. Sailors in this race encounter numerous navigational challenges, such as unpredictable weather patterns, narrow passages, and strong currents.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race was first established in 1968 by a group of passionate yachtsmen residing in Malta. Over the years, the race has grown in stature and now enjoys international recognition for its unique course and testing nature. Today, it attracts elite sailors from around the globe, contributing to Malta's rich sailing heritage.

8. Around the Island Race (Isle of Wight)

Around the Island Race

The Around the Island Race is an epic sailing race that captivates participants and spectators alike. The Isle of Wight's multifaceted coastline offers thrilling challenges to sailors while also showcasing the beautiful scenery and rich history of the region.

The annual Round the Island Race is a popular one-day sailing event, taking place around the beautiful Isle of Wight, located off the south coast of England. This thrilling competition tests over 1,200 boats and around 10,000 sailors on a course that spans approximately 50 nautical miles (93 km). It stands as one of the largest yacht races globally, as well as the fourth largest participation biennial event in the UK.

As competitors make their way around the island, they encounter a range of route challenges:

  • Tide: Knowledge of tidal currents is crucial for a successful performance, as they can either positively or negatively impact a boat's speed.
  • Wind: The Isle of Wight's varying coastline requires elite and amateur sailors to master quick changes in wind direction and strength.
  • Navigation: Keeping a safe distance from other boats and hazards, like hidden rocks, is essential to avoid collisions or damage.

The first race, Round the Island Race, took place in 1931, and since then, it has grown in popularity and prestige. Held annually in Cowes, the race is organized by the well-respected Island Sailing Club. Cowes Week, an iconic sailing event in the UK, combines tradition with modernity and welcomes all levels of sailors to take part.

9. Cowes Week

The Cowes Week is a prestigious annual sailing regatta held in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, since 1826. It is one of the oldest and largest yachting events in the world, featuring races over seven days for around 1000 boats of various classes. Cowes Week is known for its lively social scene and the opportunity to watch top-level sailing from the shore.

The races held during Cowes Week cover various distances depending on the boat class, ranging from short windward-leeward courses up to 50 nautical miles. The exact distances change each year depending on weather and tide conditions.

The narrow tidal channels between the Isle of Wight's mainland and surrounding islands present a navigation challenge for sailors. Strong currents, shallow waters, and numerous hazards require precise boat handling and route planning to complete the courses safely within the tidal windows.

Historic Significance

As one of the oldest regattas still held today, Cowes Week has historical significance as the forerunner of modern yacht racing. It helped establish Cowes and the Isle of Wight as a global hub for sailing and yachting in the 19th century. Many famous races and innovations occurred here that shaped the sport.

10. Cape2Rio Yacht Race

The Cape2Rio Yacht Race is a prestigious and challenging sailing event that has attracted participants and spectators worldwide over the past 50 years. This race tests the sailors' endurance and navigational skills as they face unpredictable weather conditions and rough seas on their journey from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Cape2Rio Yacht Race covers a total distance of approximately 3,600 nautical miles, making it one of the longest yacht races in the Southern Atlantic. This race is a true testament to the abilities of the sailors and the seaworthiness of their vessels, taking roughly 14 to 21 days to complete, depending on the weather conditions and boat performance.

The race route presents several challenges for the sailors, who must navigate their way through various obstacles, including

  • The unpredictable and powerful South Atlantic High is a high-pressure system that generates strong winds and heavy swells.
  • The infamous Cape of Good Hope is known for its treacherous waters, strong currents, and rapidly changing weather conditions.
  • The Benguella Current is a cold water current running from Antarctica that can cause hazardous sea states when it encounters opposing winds.
  • The doldrums are an equatorial region characterized by light winds and intense heat, which can test the sailors' patience and stamina.

Since its inception in 1971, the Cape2Rio Yacht Race has a rich history and has seen the participation of some of the world’s most renowned sailors. The race has witnessed remarkable moments and evolved over time as new vessels, innovations, and navigation techniques have taken center stage.

Some notable historical achievements in the race include

  • The all-female team aboard Maiden made history in 1989 by proving that women sailors compete at the highest level of yacht racing in different styles, paving the way for future female sailors
  • The victory of the development crew from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy, who were sponsored by Alexforbes, made a significant impact on the race and yacht racing community in South Africa.
  • It has also surpassed the Hobart Yacht race as one of the most popular sailing races in the southern hemisphere.

Stories that Define Epic Sailing Races

Sailing races are not just about navigating the open sea; they are also about the incredible stories and moments that unfold during these epic adventures.

1. A Race Against Nature

One of the most heart-pounding aspects of sailing races is the unpredictability of the open ocean. We'll share stories of high-stakes rescues where sailors found themselves in dire straits, battling ferocious storms and treacherous conditions. Discover how the camaraderie among competitors often transcends rivalry when lives are on the line.

2. Pushing the Limits

Sailing races have a rich history of record-breaking performances that leave us in awe. We'll explore the jaw-dropping achievements of sailors who pushed the limits of what's possible. From circumnavigating the globe in record time to achieving mind-boggling speeds, these moments of triumph remind us of the boundless human spirit.

3. Legendary Comebacks

In the world of sailing, setbacks are common, but it's the comebacks that truly inspire. We'll recount stories of sailors who faced seemingly insurmountable challenges only to rally and make epic comebacks. These tales of resilience and determination serve as powerful reminders that in sailing, as in life, you should never give up.

4. Photo Finishes

Sailing races often culminate in thrilling photo finishes that keep spectators on the edge of their seats. We'll take you through heart-pounding moments when victory was decided by mere seconds or inches. These races are a testament to the skill, strategy, and nerve required to compete at the highest level.

5. Plot Twists at Sea

No sailing race is complete without a few unexpected plot twists. We'll recount stories of races where unforeseen events turned the tide of sailing competition. Whether it's a sudden shift in the wind, a collision with marine life, or a strategic gamble paying off, these twists add technical elements of suspense and excitement to the races.

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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Famous Sailing Yacht Races: A Guide to the Most Prestigious Regattas

  • December 24, 2023 December 24, 2023

Sailing yacht races have been popular for centuries, and they continue to attract enthusiasts from around the world. These races are not only exciting to watch, but they also showcase the beauty and power of sailing yachts. From the world-famous America’s Cup to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, many famous sailing yacht races are worth watching.

One of the most famous sailing yacht races is the America’s Cup, which is considered the most important event in the yachting world. This prestigious competition was first raced around the Isle of Wight in 1851 and was named in honor of the first winner, an iconic, US-built yacht christened America. Another famous race is the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which takes place on Boxing Day in summery Australia. It is one of the most challenging regattas in the world, spanning over 45,000 nautical miles.

Table of Contents

History of Sailing Yacht Races

Famous Sailing Yacht Races

Origin and Evolution

Sailing yacht races have a long history that dates back to the 17th century when the wealthy elite of Europe would race their luxury sailboats for sport . The first recorded yacht race occurred in England in 1661, organized by King Charles II. The race, which was held on the River Thames, was a competition between two of the king’s yachts, and it was won by the yacht belonging to the king’s brother, James, Duke of York.

Over time, yacht racing evolved into a more organized and competitive sport. The first yacht club was established in Cork, Ireland, in 1720 , and the first yacht club in England was the Royal Yacht Squadron, established in 1815. The first America’s Cup race was held in 1851, and it remains one of the most prestigious yacht races in the world.

Notable Historical Races

There have been many notable yacht races throughout history, including the America’s Cup, the Fastnet Race, and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The America’s Cup, which is held every four years, is the oldest trophy in international sports, and it is considered the pinnacle of yacht racing. The Fastnet Race is a biennial offshore yacht race that starts in Cowes, England and finishes in Plymouth, England, covering a distance of 608 nautical miles. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is an annual race that starts in Sydney, Australia and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania, covering a distance of 628 nautical miles.

Yacht racing has also been an Olympic sport since 1900 , and it includes a variety of classes, including dinghy racing and keelboat racing. The sport has continued to evolve, with new technologies and designs being developed to improve the speed and performance of yachts. Today, sailing yacht races remain a popular and exciting sport enjoyed by many around the world.

Major Global Sailing Competitions

Sailing Yacht Races

Sailing is a sport that has been enjoyed for centuries, and there are many famous sailing yacht races held around the world. These races are not only a test of skill and endurance but also a celebration of the beauty and power of the sea. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the major global sailing competitions.

America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is one of the most prestigious and oldest sailing yacht races in the world . It was first raced around the Isle of Wight in 1851 and is named in honor of the first winner, an iconic, US-built yacht christened America. The competition is held every three to four years and attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world. The America’s Cup is known for its high-tech, state-of-the-art yachts, which are designed specifically for the competition. The race is a best-of series, with the winner being the first team to win seven races.

Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the toughest and most grueling sailing yacht races in the world. It is a round-the-world race that covers over 45,000 nautical miles and takes place every three years. The race is divided into legs, with each leg covering several thousand nautical miles. The teams sail through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including the Southern Ocean, which is known for its huge waves and strong winds. The race attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world, and the competition is fierce.

Vendée Globe

The Vendée Globe is a solo, non-stop, round-the-world sailing yacht race every four years. The race starts and finishes in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, and covers over 24,000 nautical miles . The sailors sail through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including the Southern Ocean, which is known for its huge waves and strong winds. The race attracts the best solo sailors from around the world, and the competition is intense.

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is one of the most famous and challenging sailing yacht races in the world. The race takes place every year on Boxing Day and covers over 630 nautical miles from Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania. The race attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world, and the competition is fierce. The sailors must navigate through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including the Bass Strait, which is known for its strong winds and rough seas.

Fastnet Race

The Fastnet Race is a biennial sailing yacht race that starts in Cowes, England and finishes in Plymouth, England. The race covers over 600 nautical miles and takes the sailors through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea . The race is known for its unpredictable weather, which can change rapidly and dramatically. The Fastnet Race attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world, and the competition is intense.

These are just a few of the major global sailing competitions . Each race has its unique challenges and attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world. Whether you are a sailor or a sailing enthusiast, these races are a testament to the beauty and power of the sea.

Types of Sailing Yachts Used in Racing

Types of Sailing Yachts Used in Racing

Monohull yachts are the most common type of sailing yacht used in racing. They are characterized by having a single hull, which makes them more stable in rough seas. Monohulls come in various sizes, from small dinghies to large racing yachts. They are designed to be fast and agile, focusing on speed and performance. Monohulls are typically sailed with a crew of several people, including a skipper, tactician, and crew members.

Multihull yachts, also known as catamarans or trimarans , are becoming increasingly popular in racing. They are characterized by having two or three hulls, which makes them more stable and faster than monohulls. Multihulls are designed to be fast and agile, focusing on speed and performance. They are typically sailed with a smaller crew than monohulls, as they are easier to handle. Multihulls are also more comfortable and spacious than monohulls, making them a popular choice for cruising.

Supermaxis are the largest and most powerful racing yachts in the world. They are characterized by their size, speed, and luxury. Supermaxis are typically over 100 feet long and can reach speeds of up to 40 knots. They are designed to be fast and powerful, focusing on speed and performance. Supermaxis are typically sailed with a large crew, including professional sailors and experienced amateurs. They are also equipped with the latest technology and equipment, making them some of the most advanced racing yachts in the world.

Race Formats and Courses

Race Formats and Courses

Sailing yacht races come in different formats, each with its own rules and regulations. The most common race formats include fleet racing, match racing, coastal, and offshore races.

Fleet Racing

Fleet racing involves a group of boats racing against each other on a set course. The boats start at the same time, and the winner is the boat that crosses the finish line first. Fleet racing is the most common type of sailing race, and it’s what most people think of when they hear the term “sailing race.”

Match Racing

Match racing involves two boats racing against each other in a series of races. The boats start at the same time, and the winner is the boat that crosses the finish line first. Match racing is a tactical race, and it’s all about outsmarting the other boat. The boats must follow strict rules, and penalties are given for breaking them.

Coastal and Offshore

Coastal and offshore races involve boats racing along a set course that takes them along the coast or out to sea. These races can last for several days, and the boats must be self-sufficient, carrying all the food, water, and equipment they need for the duration of the race. Coastal and offshore races are challenging, and they test the endurance and skill of the sailors.

In fleet racing , the boats are usually divided into classes based on their size and speed. The courses are set up to test the boats’ speed, maneuverability, and crew’s skill. In match racing, the boats are usually of similar size and speed, and the courses are set up to test the sailors’ tactical skills.

Coastal and offshore races can have different courses, depending on the race’s location and duration. Some races may have a set course that takes the boats along the coast, while others may have a course that takes the boats out to sea and back. The courses can be challenging, and the sailors must be prepared for all types of weather and sea conditions.

Overall, sailing yacht races are exciting events that test the sailors’ skills and endurance. Whether it’s fleet racing, match racing, coastal, or offshore races, each format has its own challenges and rewards.

Technological Advances in Yacht Racing

Technological Advances in Yacht Racing

Design and Materials

Technological advances in yacht racing have revolutionized the sport, particularly in the area of design and materials. Modern yacht designs now incorporate advanced materials such as carbon fiber, which is both lightweight and strong. This allows for faster and more agile boats that are better able to handle the high speeds and rough waters of yacht racing.

In addition to carbon fiber, other advanced materials such as Kevlar and titanium are also used in yacht construction. These materials are not only strong and lightweight, but they also offer superior resistance to corrosion and other forms of wear and tear.

Navigation and Communication Systems

Another area where technological advances have had a significant impact on yacht racing is navigation and communication systems. GPS technology, for example, has made it possible for sailors to navigate more accurately and efficiently, allowing them to plot their course with greater precision and avoid hazards such as rocks and other obstacles.

In addition to GPS, other advanced navigation and communication systems such as radar and sonar are also commonly used in yacht racing. These systems allow sailors to detect other boats, as well as obstacles such as buoys and rocks, from a distance, giving them more time to react and avoid collisions.

Overall, the technological advances in yacht racing have made the sport faster, safer, and more exciting than ever before. With continued innovation and development, we will likely see even more advances in the future, further pushing the limits of what is possible in this thrilling sport.

Sailing Yacht Race Regulations and Safety

Sailing Yacht Race Regulations and Safety

International Racing Rules

Sailing yacht races are governed by a set of international rules and regulations that ensure fair play and safety. The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) publishes the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) , which are updated every four years. The rules cover everything from boat design and construction to crew eligibility and conduct during races.

One of the most important rules is the right of way. Boats that are on a starboard tack (wind coming from the right side) have the right of way over boats on a port tack (wind coming from the left side). Boats must also give way to boats that are overtaking them.

Another important rule is the penalty system. Boats that break a rule must take a penalty, which can be a time penalty or a penalty turn. Failure to take a penalty can result in disqualification.

Safety Equipment Requirements

Safety is a top priority in sailing yacht races, and all boats must comply with safety equipment requirements. These requirements vary depending on the race and the location, but some common safety equipment includes life jackets, harnesses, flares, and fire extinguishers.

All boats must also carry a VHF radio and a GPS device. The VHF radio is used to communicate with other boats and race officials, while the GPS device tracks the boat’s position and speed.

In addition to the required safety equipment, many sailors also carry additional safety gear, such as first aid kits, emergency beacons, and satellite phones. It is important to note that safety equipment requirements may change depending on the weather and sea conditions, so sailors must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Overall, sailing yacht races are exciting and challenging events that require skill, accuracy, and knowledge of rules and regulations. By following the international racing rules and complying with safety equipment requirements, sailors can enjoy the thrill of the race while ensuring their safety and the safety of their crew.

Training and Crew Preparation

Preparing for a sailing yacht race requires a great deal of physical and mental preparation. The crew must be in top physical condition to handle the rigors of the race. They must also be mentally prepared to handle the stress and pressure of the competition.

Physical Conditioning

Physical conditioning is crucial for the crew to perform at their best during the race. Sailing requires a combination of strength, endurance, and agility. The crew must be able to handle the physical demands of the race, including hoisting sails, trimming lines, and steering the boat.

To prepare for the race, the crew should engage in a regular exercise routine that includes cardiovascular training, strength training, and flexibility exercises. They should also focus on building endurance through long-distance running, swimming, or cycling.

Teamwork and Roles

In addition to physical conditioning, teamwork, and roles are essential for a successful yacht race. Each crew member must understand their role on the boat and work together seamlessly to achieve the best possible outcome.

The crew should practice working together in various scenarios, including tacking, jibing, and sail changes. They should also practice emergency drills, such as man overboard, to ensure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Clear communication is also critical for a successful yacht race. The crew should establish a communication plan and practice using it during training sessions. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively during the race.

Overall, training and crew preparation are crucial for a successful sailing yacht race. The crew must be physically and mentally prepared to handle the demands of the race and work together seamlessly to achieve the best possible outcome.

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Sailing Yacht Solo Voyaging: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Journey

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7 Global Sailing Races to Follow

By: Zeke Quezada, ASA Destinations , Event , Inside Sailing , Sailing Fun

As American Sailing evolves our curriculum to offer more racing options through North U, I am attempting to learn more about sailboat racing. If you are following along with my journey to become a racer, you know that I am a neophyte when it comes to racing. I am a cruiser. I am a self-described “lazy sailor” that does not focus on trimming my sails and instead works on not dropping my chips and salsa while sailing.

You can get an idea of my journey in my last two pieces on sailing and racing:

SAIL TRIM FOR CRUISERS: WHY TRIM YOUR SAILS?

HOW TO GRADUATE FROM CRUISER TO RACER — STEPS TO START RACING SAILBOATS

I plan to find out more about the serious and not-so-serious side of sailboat racing. Many people, even non-sailors, know what the America’s Cup is, and may have even turned on a sports network to catch a SailGP race. But there is far more to sailing races than those two.

Here’s an overview of seven of the big races, regattas, and race series that occur regularly around the world. These are iconic events, both old and new, that shape the world of racing and have inspired sailors for generations to challenge themselves to new heights, both on and off the water.

Cowes Week is one of the oldest and most prestigious sailing regattas in the world, held every August in the Solent waters off Cowes, UK. The event has been around since 1826, and it’s known for attracting some of the best sailors from around the globe. It’s the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world, with up to 1,000 boats and 8,000 competitors taking part in the 40 daily sailing races.

Whether you’re an Olympic or world-class pro, or just a weekend sailor, Cowes Week is an event that has something for everyone. And even if you’re not into sailing, the regatta is still a spectacle to behold – with stunning views of the coastline and plenty of festivities both on and off the water. 

Once you discover the allure of racing it appears that Cowes Week might be worthy of a sailing vacation that includes either participating in a race or just being involved as a spectator. I am not there yet, but it could happen.

Next Race Date: July 29 – Aug 4, 2023 Cowes Week Website

The Ocean Race

I do know about The Ocean Race only because prior to the new owner taking over, it was the Volvo Ocean Race for twenty years and that is how they got me to buy a Volvo. I walked into the dealership and saw some mesmerizing sailboat pictures and I signed the contract and drove away.  I am a sucker.

The Ocean Race is a round-the-world yacht race that occurs every three years. It’s known as one of the most challenging sailing races globally, spanning over 45,000 nautical miles. The race consists of multiple legs and lasts about nine months. The race starts in Europe and ends in Asia or Oceania. The exact route changes with each edition of the race.

Both professional sailors and amateur sailors can participate in this race. The teams are composed of eight sailors, all racing on the same boats. These boats are specially designed to be fast and robust, capable of enduring the tough conditions of the open ocean.

This race used to be known as the Whitbread Round the World Race until it was renamed the Volvo Ocean Race and now is known as The Ocean Race.

Next Race Date: Currently in progress at the time of the post! The Ocean Race Website

America’s Cup 

My first foray into sailing racing was when Dennis Conner won the America’s Cup.  I was a kid watching the news and learned about sailing through this huge event on the vessel, Stars and Stripes. Years later I took a ride on what I was told was the same boat. I was skeptical about the origin of the vessel I was on but that day I learned a lot about how much I loved the idea of sailing. A couple of years later I bought a boat.

The America’s Cup is held every few years on dates agreed between the defender and the challenger. There is no fixed schedule, but the races have generally been held every three to four years. The most recent America’s Cup match took place in March 2021. 

The 37th America’s Cup Official Opening Ceremony will be held in Barcelona on 22 August 2024. The Final Preliminary Event and the Challenger Selection Series will follow, leading up to the America’s Cup Match that will start on 12 October 2024. During 2023/early 2024, there is potential for up to three preliminary events. By June 2023, all the teams will have their base set up and be training in Barcelona.

The competition takes place between teams representing different countries or yacht clubs. The event involves a series of races where high-tech racing yachts, known as America’s Cup Class boats, compete in head-to-head races that test their speed, agility, and teamwork.

The competition dates back to 1851 when a schooner called America won a race around the Isle of Wight. The trophy, now known as the America’s Cup, was donated to the New York Yacht Club and has since become one of the most prestigious prizes in sailing.

Next Race Date: October 12, 2024 The America’s Cup Website

Vendée Globe

If I was a racer I am sure that The Vendée Globe would be the race that would inspire me to go hard into this type of adventure. The Vendée Globe is a single-handed (solo) non-stop yacht race around the world without assistance. It takes place every four years and is an extreme form of sailing.  It is said that more people have been into space than have finished the Vendee Globe. First held in 1989, the race starts and ends in Les Sables-d’Olonne, a small town on the west coast of France, and covers a distance of approximately 45,000 km.

Sailors must navigate their way through some of the most treacherous waters on the planet, including the Southern Ocean and the Cape Horn. Sailors must rely solely on their own skills, knowledge, and experience to complete the race. They face extreme weather conditions, sleep deprivation, and the constant threat of danger as they navigate their way around the world. 

The boats are designed specifically for the event and are some of the most advanced sailing vessels in the world, capable of speeds of up to 30 knots.

Next Race Date: November 10, 2024 The Vend é e Globe Website

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

I must confess that I had a very nice t-shirt from this regatta that I purchased at the St. Maarten airport. I was leaving the country and realized that I had not bought any souvenirs so I found this shirt in the terminal and wore it like a proud sailboat racer. I was an imposter, I had never even seen any of the race and I did not know it existed.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is a massive sailing event that takes place on the island of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. It’s actually the biggest regatta in the Caribbean and the largest warm water regatta in the world.

The event attracts top sailors from 37 countries, who compete in a series of races over four days. The competition draws in sailors that are both professionals and passionate amateurs who just love to sail.

Next Race Date: Feb 29 – Mar 3, 2024 St. Maarten Regatta Website

Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac)

If you live and sail in Southern California, you will hear about Transpac. I have heard about it, and I did not realize it was a race. I always figured it was a group of sailors who sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii in a large caravan, like a large flotilla, without any daily stops. I will confess that when I sailed my Catalina 27 five times a week, I had a few fantasies about tagging along in my boat and stopping over in Hawaii with the Transpac crowd. But, unfortunately, I was misguided.

The Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac) is a biennial offshore yacht race held in odd-numbered years starting off the Pt. Fermin buoy in San Pedro, California, and ending off Diamond Head in Hawaii, a distance of around 2,225 nautical miles (2,560 mi; 4,121 km). It is one of the world’s oldest major ocean races for sailing yachts. The race was first held in 1906 and made a biennial event in 1939 to alternate with the Bermuda Race.

Next Race Date: June 27, 2023 TransPac Website

Now in its 4th season, SailGP is a newer series race held as a competition between nations on identical F50 catamarans. Currently the nations competing include Australia, New Zealand, Emirates Great Britain, France, Canada, Denmark, United States, Switzerland, and Spain. The race is held on weekends in iconic locations around the world modeled in a grand prix format similar to Formula 1 in which points accumulate throughout the season based on winnings from each race and contribute toward a championship. 

The race series has a really great app you can use to follow along and watch live, or on YouTube, and they are doing wonderful work expanding the sport’s impact initiatives through their second championship leaderboard that tracks the positive actions the teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing. The coverage of this series is great to watch – it has a high production value including live mics on the sailors and post race interviews with the sailors. The commentators do a good job educating the audience as to the basics of sailboat racing as well as explaining the racing rules.

Season 4 Opening Race: June 16-17, 2023 Chicago Sail GP Website

So which race strikes your fancy? Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these and find some new inspiration in your sailing journey!

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A Deep Dive into the World's Most Exciting Sailboat Races

A Deep Dive into the World's Most Exciting Sailboat Races

10 Must-See Sailboat Races around the World

The america's cup.

 Known as the oldest international sporting trophy, the America's Cup is an iconic yacht race and a gem in the sailing crown. It started back in 1851 and has held onto its reputation ever since. This race involves an intense competition between two sailing yachts – one defending the title and the other challenging it. A blend of history, tradition, and fierce competition, the America's Cup never fails to enthrall.

The Vendée Globe

If there ever was a race that tested the limits of human endurance, it's the Vendée Globe. Known as the 'Everest of the Seas', this single-handed (solo), non-stop yacht race takes sailors around the world without any assistance. It's a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit and a must-see for anyone intrigued by extreme sailing feats.

Volvo Ocean Race

Taking place every three years, the Volvo Ocean Race is a round-the-world yacht race that pushes sailors to their limits. Over the course of nine months, competitors battle it out across some of the most treacherous seas on the planet. This race is not only a test of sailing expertise but also of resilience, endurance, and team spirit.

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is a highlight of the yachting calendar. It starts in Sydney on Boxing Day and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania. The race is known for its challenging weather conditions and fiercely competitive field, attracting yachtsmen and women from all over the world.

The Fastnet Race

The Fastnet Race is a classic offshore yacht race that offers a thrilling combination of inshore and offshore racing. Starting in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England, the race takes competitors around the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland before finishing in Plymouth, England. The race is renowned for its tough conditions and strategic challenges.

The Newport Bermuda Race

Established in 1906, the Newport Bermuda Race is a 635-mile ocean race that runs from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda. Known for its tactical demands and changeable conditions, it's a race that tests sailors' skills, perseverance, and navigational prowess to the maximum.

The Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac)

Held every two years, the Transpacific Yacht Race is an offshore yacht race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, spanning a distance of around 2,225 nautical miles. The race is a test of navigation and sailing skills, with competitors having to contend with a range of conditions as they cross the Pacific Ocean.

Clipper Round the World Race

Unique in its concept, the Clipper Round the World Race is a two-year event that offers amateur sailors the chance to experience the thrill of circumnavigating the globe. Led by professional skippers, the participants are ordinary people who have undergone training to take on the challenge of the high seas.

Rolex Middle Sea Race

Beginning and ending in Malta, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a 606 nautical mile adventure that takes competitors around Sicily and the surrounding islands. The race is known for its stunning scenery, tactical challenges, and warm Mediterranean hospitality.

The Barcelona World Race

The Barcelona World Race is a non-stop, round-the-world yacht race designed for sailing duos. It starts and ends in the vibrant city of Barcelona, Spain. This race not only tests the sailing prowess of the participants but also their ability to work seamlessly as a two-person team. It's a thrilling spectacle of teamwork, strategy, and sailing skill.

The Final Buoy: 

A swift journey through the top sailboat races in the world. Each race, with its unique challenges and historical significance, contributes to the vibrant tapestry of the sailing world. From solo voyages like the Vendée Globe that push the limits of human endurance to the test of tactics and teamwork found in the Barcelona World Race, the diversity of these races is a testament to the myriad forms of courage and skill found among sailors.

The races we've discussed span the globe, crossing different seas and oceans. From the Pacific's vast expanse in the Transpacific Yacht Race to the treacherous, unpredictable nature of the Bass Strait in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Yet, despite the diverse locales and sailing conditions, they all share an undercurrent of passion for sailing, adventure, and a desire to push the boundaries of what's possible on the open sea.

Sailboat racing is not just about getting from point A to B the fastest. It's about mastering the elements, navigating by the stars, and becoming one with the wind and sea. It's about the moments of calm when it's just you, your boat, and the endless blue. It's about the rush of adrenaline as you surge with the waves, racing neck-and-neck towards the finish line. But above all, it's about the sailing community, a band of individuals who share a profound respect for the sea and a love for the thrill of sailing.

So, whether you're an experienced sailor feeling the pull of the open sea or a landlubber dreaming of hoisting the sails, remember, there's a whole world of sailboat races out there. Each one offers a unique adventure and a chance to be a part of the rich history and thrilling future of sailing. Until our next nautical journey, may you have fair winds and following seas!

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The World's Most Iconic Yacht Races

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The World's Most Iconic Yacht Races

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America's Cup

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Fastnet Race

Transpacific Yacht Race

Volvo Ocean Race

The Vendée Globe

Rolex Middle Sea Race

Newport to Bermuda Race - United States

Copa del Rey

Round the Island Race

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

Are you a fan of sailing or interested in attending a yacht race? The world is full of exciting and iconic yacht races that attract sailors and spectators from all over the globe. From classic and prestigious events to modern and thrilling competitions, here are some of the most iconic yacht races you need to know about.

The America's Cup, dating back to 1851, holds the title of the world's oldest active trophy in international sports. It's a sailing competition between two yachts, one representing the yacht club currently holding the Cup and the other representing a challenging yacht club. The Cup is held every three to four years, and the yacht clubs decide the event's location and the rules. The America's Cup is widely regarded as the world's most prestigious yacht race, attracting the best sailors and yachts from around the globe.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia annually organizes the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, a renowned sailing event. This Sydney to Hobart Bluewater Classic is a famous Australian yacht race that covers 628 nautical miles. It starts in Sydney Harbor on Boxing Day and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania. It's one of the most challenging yacht races in the world, with sailors facing strong winds, treacherous seas, and changing weather conditions. For nearly eight decades, the race has continued to draw in top sailors from across the globe, comprising experienced professionals and enthusiastic amateurs.

The Fastnet Race is a challenging and highly anticipated biennial offshore yacht race, spanning from Cowes, England, to Plymouth and attracting skilled sailors worldwide. The race is named after Fastnet Rock, a small islet off the southwest coast of Ireland that marks the course's halfway point. The Fastnet Race is renowned for its grueling course, spanning approximately 600 nautical miles and featuring treacherous conditions such as high winds, rough seas, and frigid temperatures that test the mettle of even the most seasoned sailors.

The Transpacific Yacht Race, also called the Transpac, is an offshore yacht race that starts in Los Angeles and finishes in Honolulu. The race covers approximately 2,225 nautical miles and is held every two years. The competition is renowned for its demanding sailing conditions as participants navigate through strong winds, turbulent seas, and unpredictable weather patterns. The Transpac is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious yacht races, attracting top sailors and yachts from around the globe.

The Ocean Race, previously known as the Volvo Ocean Race, is a global yacht race that takes place every three years, covering various ports worldwide. The race covers approximately 45,000 nautical miles and is divided into legs, with stops in various ports worldwide. The race is known for its extreme conditions, with sailors facing rough seas, high winds, and freezing temperatures. 

The Vendée Globe is a non-stop solo yacht race worldwide that covers 28,000 nautical miles. It starts and finishes in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, and it's considered the ultimate test of sailors' skills and endurance. The race takes around 80 to 100 days to complete, and it's known for its challenging weather conditions, including icebergs and hurricanes.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is an annual offshore yacht race that takes place every year in October and starts and finishes in Malta, passing by the islands of Sicily and Pantelleria. The race covers approximately 606 nautical miles and takes sailors on a scenic journey around the Mediterranean Sea, passing through the Strait of Messina, the Aeolian Islands, and the Egadi Islands. The race with sailors facing strong winds, rough seas, and variable weather conditions. The Rolex Middle Sea Race attracts top sailors and yachts worldwide and is one of the most popular yacht races in the Mediterranean region.

This 635 nautical mile race occurs every two years and starts in Newport, Rhode Island, and finishes in St. David's Head, Bermuda. The Newport Bermuda Race, a world-renowned yacht race, is jointly organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, attracting sailing enthusiasts from different parts of the world to participate this prestigious competition. The race is known for its challenging weather conditions, and participants must navigate through the Gulf Stream, which can cause unpredictable currents and winds.

This popular regatta takes place annually in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The event attracts amateur and professional sailors, with participants racing in various classes.

This is a biennial race that covers a distance of 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The event has been held since 1906 and attracts a range of yachts, from small cruisers to high-performance  yacht cruise in Dubai .

This race takes place annually around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. It is one of the largest yacht races in the world, with over 1,400 boats taking part in the 2019 edition.

This event takes place in Saint-Tropez, France, and attracts a range of classic and modern sailing yachts. The regatta is known for its unique party atmosphere, with events occurring both on and off the water.

Many iconic yacht races are held worldwide, each with unique challenges and rewards. Participating in one of these races can be an incredible experience whether you're a professional sailor or an amateur enthusiast. From the challenging conditions of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to the extreme weather of the Volvo Ocean Race, these events push sailors to their limits and showcase some of the world's most beautiful and technologically advanced yachts.

best yacht races in the world

SailingEurope Blog - Sailing, Yacht Charter and Beyond

Regatta

16 Most Prestigious World Regattas (part 1/2)

We present you with some of the most popular and most important world sailing races. This article is a list of some of our favourite world regattas. However, if you want to know more details about sailboat racing and regattas we suggest reading this article .

52 Super Series

The first stop of the five-week-long TP52 race is D-Marin Mandalina, a certified superyacht marina in Šibenik, Croatia . Fast, light, high-performance monohulls from up to 13 teams are to compete in ten real-time windward-leeward races and coastal courses from May to September. The series is developed by Quantum Racing , Azzurra and Rán Racing in 2012 with strict rules that define characteristics of vessels, and it quickly became the world’s leading grand Prix racing circuit.

Check the 52 Super Series official website.

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Barcolana Regatta, Italy

One of the largest and the most visited world regattas takes place in the Mediterranean every year in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy in October since 1969. It gathers around 2,000 boats (for which it is dubbed as the most crowded regatta), 25,000 sailors and 250,000 spectators. Sailors compete for the Barcolana Trophy, and many others, in a 15-mile four-sided fixed mark course.

What is special about this regatta is that it offers young helmsman aged eight to 15 to compete as well. Kite and windsurfers also compete in the highest jumps and tricks, and reaching top speeds categories. On land, one can enjoy food, drinks and different kinds of art.

More about the Barcolana Regatta can be found here.

Barcolana Regattas

Extreme Sailing Series

Held annually since 2007, it is a global environmentally-friendly stadium racing series of catamarans. It is specifically aimed at spectators, and the event attracts world regattas’ enthusiasts .

The races are short-lasting , around 10-15 minutes, which makes the start the most exciting part of a race. The course depends on the number of boats and wind conditions. It is important for teams to tactically out-manoeuvre each other, but they can also receive penalties during a race. The last race of the series counts for double points making the whole event dramatic until the last minute.

All about the Extreme Sailing series is here.

Extreme Sailing Series - Muscat

Kieler Woche (Kiel Week), Germany

As its name says, this largest sailing event in the world attracts around 5,000 sailors, 2,000 ships and three million people every year. It takes place in Kiel, Germany in the last week of June. This ship racing championship has Olympic, International and Offshore classes.

The centre of sporting activities is the Olympic Harbor of Schilksee. You can enjoy the tallest-ships convention in Germany, free music from popular bands, and finish everything with fireworks at 11 pm on Sunday fired from a pontoon or the quays.

Check out more on the Kieler Woche here.

Regatta

Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup

Ever since the first race in 1983, it became part of the selection series to win the right to become the challenger for America’s Cup. This is where only two yachts compete, one being the challenger and one being the defender that represents the club that currently holds the cup.

Both cups are connected with high-profile entrepreneurs and sponsors, so the cups do not serve for showing boat skills per se, but also as fundraising and management events.

Discover more about America’s Cup here.

America's Cup

Regatés Imperialés (Imperial Regattas), France

Starting in 2003, it is one of the youngest world regattas. Taking place in May in the Gulf of Ajaccio, France it is primarily famous for its remarkable beauty. This boat race is one of the most important cultural events of the island and is an introduction to the sailing season. To get the best view, one should be on another boat.

Each year, around 30 yachts, such as Firebird, Moonbeam and Lulu, compete for fun and prizes. There is no entry charge, but a v oluntary donation to the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer, one of the organizing partners.

You can check out additional information about the Imperial Regattas here.

Regatta

Rolex China Sea Race, Hong Kong

Many have not heard about a biennial 565 NM offshore sailing event starting in Hong Kong, and finishing in the Subic Bay in the Philippines. It draws the attention of yachting enthusiasts in southeast Asia.

Many believe that Chinese sailors need more professional training and time to learn from experience even though the current record is 47 hours and 31 minutes RP66 Alive made. Consequently, it is safe to say that this regatta will just continue to grow with time attracting more and more visitors.

More on the Rolex China Sea Race on their official website.

Regatta

Rolex Fastnet Regatta, UK

Started in 1925 and, since then, taking place every two years in August. It is one of the longest-running and most demanding offshore world regattas. The Grand Slam race begins in Cowes, goes through the Needles Channel, down the English Channel, across the Celtic Sea and around the Fastnet Rock (after which the race got its name), only to return the same way and finish in Plymouth.

Loïck Peyron and his VPLP-designed 130-foot long trimaran Banque Populaire made the current multihull record time of 32 hours and 48 minutes in 2011. Even though the race is for professional sailors but it also attracts leisure sailors. Both should be aware of strong westerlies.

Find out more on the Rolex Fastnet Regatta here.

Fastnet 2017 Regattas

We hope you like the first part of our list of the world’s biggest regattas. The second part is waiting for you here .

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3 thoughts on “16 Most Prestigious World Regattas (part 1/2)”

' src=

Very interesting review of yacht regattas. I wonder why the Chinese regatta has such a name, is its history with the Rolex company?

' src=

Dear Sochi,

I am glad you liked our reviews of the regattas. The Chinese regatta has such a name, since Rolex is main sponsor of the regatta. The same can be applied to Volvo Ocean Race where Volvo was the main sponsor of the race.

Best regards, Bruno

' src=

Wouldn’t that be the knock off Regatta??

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4 World-Class Yacht Races That’ll Put Your Sailing Skills to the Ultimate Test

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Sailing around the world has been a dream for both weekend warriors and armchair sailors alike. While three of the races below are for professionals, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race welcomes anyone to see what life on board an offshore racing yacht is like. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who haven’t spent their lives sailing professionally. If you’d rather follow virtually, the three others below will have comprehensive coverage during the highlights of each event, including live-cam coverage on board.

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Each offers different styles of race boats, crew sizes and new technologies. The Ocean Race, formerly the Volvo Ocean Race, is the oldest and largest, with stops at port cities around the world. The race from Barcelona is the newest, with two-men crews crossing three oceans and heading back. The most extreme is the Vendée Globe , which finds solo sailors facing off against the sea in some of the most technically advanced racing yachts , most with foils.

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race: August 2023 to July 2024

Founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, this event trains people from all walks of life to become ocean-racing sailors. The course travels more than 40,000 nautical miles across multiple legs, with the yachts captained by pro sailors and crewed by the new recruits.

The Ocean Race: January 2023

The granddaddy of team races, the 14th edition begins in January 2023, with 21 teams competing in two race-boat classes, sailing 32,000 miles around the world and stopping at nine international cities over a six-month period.

Barcelona World Race: January 2023

This circumnavigation covers 26,000 nautical miles, from (yes) Barcelona to Sydney and (yes) back. The boats are crewed by two sailors and cross 12 climate zones and three oceans over four months.

Vendée Globe: November 2024

Born from the Golden Globe, this single-handed, nonstop round-the-world race has morphed from its 1989 debut into the world’s most exciting solo event, with carbon-hulled foiling yachts, bleeding-edge electronics and serious on-land support teams.

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The list of the most significant sailing events of this and the following years

The list of the most significant sailing events of this and the following years

In sailing, it’s easier to choose a day without an event than to make a complete list of them. But we tried.

In this post, check the best sailing events of all kinds, from an old annual week-long competitions to around-the-world solo races and regattas, world championships, and the sailing Olympics program. All in all, we have collected 12 of the most important such events.

Follow the links under the descriptions to read more about this or that event and how to participate in it, if you are a sailor or want to become one.

Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

  • Organizer: Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania
  • Launch: 1945
  • Periodicity: annually
  • Duration: from a day to several days, the official record is 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds
  • Dates: end of December — beginning of January
  • Location: start in Sydney, finish in Hobart, Australia
  • Next race: December 26, 2022 — January 1, 2023; December 25, 2023 — January 2, 2023
  • Website: Rolexsydneyhobart.com

One of the strongest ocean races in the world and the biggest Australian open-air sailing festival is timed to Boxing Day. The race is starting in Sydney, New South Wales, and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania. The distance is approximately 630 nautical miles. For example, in 2020 the regatta was held for the 76th time. Over the years, it ranks in world status with Rolex Fastnet Race, Newport to Bermuda Race. Members of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have repeatedly become champions of numerous regattas around the world.

Barcolana Regatta

  • Organizer: Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano
  • Launch: 1969
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Dates: second Sunday of October
  • Location: Gulf of Trieste, Trieste, Italy
  • Next race: starts on Sunday, October 9, 2022
  • Website: Barcolana.it

This spectacular regatta was developed in 1969 as an initiative of the yacht club Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano to end a sailing season. The Barcolana, with over 2,689 registered yachts, marked a new Guinness World Record and became officially the “Largest Sailing Race in the World” in 2018. All participants are divided into groups (divisions) according to the overall length of the yacht. Thus, professionals and sailing enthusiasts can take the same start which makes the event especially exciting to follow the results.

Rolex Fastnet Race

  • Organizer: Royal Ocean Racing Club, UK, with the assistance of the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes and the City of Cherbourg in France
  • Launch: 1925
  • Periodicity: every two years
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Dates: end of July — beginning of August
  • Location: start in Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, finish in Cherbourg, Normandy, France (before 2021: Plymouth, Devon, UK)
  • Next race: 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on July 22, 2023
  • Website: Fastnet.rorc.org

The world’s largest offshore race, the classic Rolex Fastnet Race, is also considered to be one of the most difficult offshore regattas in the world. But this does not prevent it from being also popular among yachtsmen. For example, in 2017, 362 yachts from 20 countries of the world were registered. In 2018 340 places in the IRC division were picked up in 4.5 minutes after the opening of the reservation. The remaining applications have been filed in Class 40, IMOCA 60, Volvo Ocean 65, and classes of multihulls. The regatta is held by one of the UK’s oldest yacht clubs, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC).

Copa del Rey MAPFRE

  • Organizers: Real Club Náutico de Palma (RCNP) and the National Cruisers Association (Asociación Nacional de Cruceros) of Spain
  • Launch: 1982
  • Duration: 6 days
  • Dates: End of July — beginning of August
  • Location: Bay Mallorca, Mallorca Island, Mediterranean Sea, Spain
  • Next race: July 30 — August 6, 2022
  • Website: Regatacopadelrey.com

The King’s Cup is now a highlight on the international sailing calendar. Competitions have been held annually since 1982, and over its 36-year history, it has gained the status as one of the most popular well-run, and renowned in the Meditteranean. The King’s Cup is played for six days, five of which include short-course racing in the Olympic loop and one day includes a coastal race of 30 miles. It features the highest level of competition for 100+ teams. Organizers of the regatta, the El Real Club Náutico de Palma, successfully gather participants of America’s Cup, Olympic medalists, and other world’s best sailors as well as hundreds of sailing lovers together.

Learn more about Copa del Rey MAPFRE and how to take part in it

best yacht races in the world

  • Organizer: Cowes Week Ltd
  • Launch: 1826
  • Location: Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
  • Next race: July 30 — August 6, 2022; July 29 — August 4, 2023
  • Website: Cowesweek.co.uk

Cowes Week is one of the oldest regattas in the world. It first took place in 1826 and outrun such top events as America’s Cup — by 25 years, and Kiel Week — by 56 years. For example, in 2020 a Race Village of the Cowes Week opened its doors on the 8th of August. The general scale of the regatta is amazing: more than 1,000 yachts take part in competitions, bringing together on the water at least 8,500 yachtsmen. The entry list varies from professional sportsmen performing in Olympic and professional sports classes to those who go to sea on cruise yachts at the weekend.

  • Organizers: Kieler Yacht-Club, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Hamburger Segel-Club, and Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee
  • Launch: 1882
  • Periodicity: annual
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Dates: second half of June
  • Location: Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
  • Next race: June 18 — 26, 2022; June 21 — 25, 2023
  • Website: Kieler-woche.de

The Kiel Regatta was founded in 1882. This annual sailing event is not only one of the largest sports regatta in the world, but also it’s bringing millions of people from all over Europe to the largest beer/wine festival combined with a traveling funfair in Germany — Volksfeste and the biggest tall ships convention for German and international traditional (mainly sailing) ships. The Kiel Week gathers every year more than 5,000 sailors on around 2,000 vessels in different divisions — Olympic, international sports classes, and tall ships. On the last day before the Closing Ceremony, more than 100 traditional ships and hundreds of yachts are participating in the Tall Ships Parade that was established in 1972, when Kiel hosted the Olympic sailing competitions.

Vendée Globe

  • Organized: SAEM Vendée, a semi-public company 
  • Launch: 1989
  • Periodicity: every four years
  • Duration: 
  • Dates: November
  • Next race: 10th edition in 2024–2025
  • Location: around the world from Les Sables d’Olonne, Département of Vendée, Western France
  • Website: Vendeeglobe.org

The only solo sailing race around the world that is also non-stop and without assistance. For example, in 2020 competitors raised their sails in November, in the recognized mecca of the world sailing, the city of Les Sables d’Olonne, Département of Vendée in Western France. The first edition of the regatta was in 1989 and only thirteen sailors submitted the race that race. Last time, over the eight seasons of this difficult trial of professionalism and willpower, 167 competitors took the start and only 89 of them were able to finish.

Transpacific Yacht Race

  • Organizer: Transpacific Yacht Club
  • Launch: 1906
  • Duration: up to 7 days, the record is 4 days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Dates: end of June — beginning of July
  • Location: from Los Angeles, CA, to Hawaii, Unites States
  • Next race: starting June 27, 2023
  • Website: Transpacyc.com

The Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac for short) has been organized every two years with rare exceptions since 1906. The race starts at Cape Fermin near Los Angeles and ends at Diamond Head Lighthouse in Honolulu. Yachtsmen pass about 2225 nautical miles. For the length of the distance on the West Coast of the United States, the Transpac is behind only the offshore Vic-Maui Yacht Race (2308 nautical miles) on the Victoria (Canada) — Lahaina (Hawaii) route.

best yacht races in the world

America’s Cup World Series

  • Organizer: America's Cup Organizing Committee
  • Launch: 1851
  • Duration: week
  • Dates: different months
  • Location: different countries
  • Next race: 37th America’s Cup in 2024
  • Website: Americascup.com

America’s Cup match race is one of the oldest and most prestigious trophies in the sailing world. It was first held in 1851 and outrun the Football World Cup by 20 years and the modern Olympic Games — by 45 years. It’s awarded to the winner of the series of match races between two sailing yachts. One of them is a defender of the yacht club, who holds the trophy, and another one is a challenger. For example, in 2020 a circuit of preliminary regattas was raced around the world. First America’s Cup World Series regatta took place in Sardinia, Italy, at the end of April 2020. A Christmas Regatta in Auckland, New Zealand, culminated in the preliminary circuit before the main selection regatta of the PRADA Cup (Challenger Selection Series).

Rolex TP52 52 World Championships

  • Organizer: 52 Siper Series Team
  • Launch: 2012
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Dates: end of June
  • Next race: 2023
  • Website: 52superseries.com

The world’s leading Grand Prix monohull circuit TP52 World Championship was developed in 2011 by owners of three key teams: Quantum Racing, Azzurra, and Rán Racing. It is one of the five sailing events of a larger 52 Super Series. For example, in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2020, there was a mix of stand-alone TP52 regattas that included six events, but also these high-performance sailboats will participate most prestigious regattas such as Copa del Rey MAPFRE, PalmaVela, Rolex Middle Sea Race in an own TP52 division. It was the very first visit of the TP52 fleet to South Africa, so was highly supported by local owners as well as well-known local organizers.

IRC/ORC World Championships

  • Organizers: IRC/ORC
  • Launch: 2018
  • Next race: June 23 — July 1, 2022 in Porto Cervo, Italy; August 4 — 12, 2023 in Kiel, Germany
  • Website: Ircrating.org , Orc.org

IRC/ORC World Championships is a combined sailing championship of the three major sailing organizations: UK’s Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the French Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL), which both hold an International Rating Certificate (IRC); and an Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). Respectively, ORC and IRC ratings are used for scoring results in three classes defined by the size and rated speeds of yachts. Usually, competitions include 2-3 offshore or coastal races and 6-7 inshore races. For example, in 2020 IRC/ORC Worlds was planned to take place in New York Yacht Club but was canceled because of the pandemic. It was the first time when the championships were supposed in the United States since the IMS World Championship in 2000.

Sailing Olympics program and classes

  • Organizer: International Olympic Committee
  • Launch: 1900
  • Periodicity: every 4 years
  • Dates: July-August
  • Next race: 2024 Summer Olympic in Paris, France
  • Website: Olympics.com/en/sports/sailing

Since its debut in the 1900 Olympic program, sailing has not been included in it only once — in 1904. In 2021 in Japan, the World Sailing Commission decided to leave all disciplines that were presented in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 without any significant changes, so we had an opportunity to follow such competitions as RS:X — Windsurfer (Men/Women); Laser — One Person Dinghy (Men); Laser Radial — One Person Dinghy (Women); Finn — One Person Dinghy (Men); 470 — Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women); 49er — Skiff (Men); 49er FX — Skiff (Women); and Nacra 17 Foiling — Mixed Multihull. So it is eight classes in total.

This post is an updated version of a text, which was first published on the Windy.app blog on October 22, 2019, and which was telling about the main sailing events in 2020.

Text: Windy.app, Ivan Kuznetsov

Cover photo: Shutterstock

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A LOOK AT THE WORLD’S 3 BIGGEST YACHT RACES

Ocean thrills – a look at the world’s 3 biggest yacht races.

For some, embarking on a leisurely yacht cruise is the epitome of relaxation. For others, setting out on an ocean voyage is an epic, adrenaline-fuelled adventure, a ferocious match and an ultimate battle of will, endurance – and survival.

Join us as we take a look at the mechanics and history of 3 of the world’s biggest yacht races.

WORLD’S BIGGEST YACHT RACE #1 – VENDÉE GLOBE

1_Vendee-Globe

24 000 nautical miles of giant waves, extreme temperatures and gale-force winds, uninterrupted and completely alone. The Vendée Globe yacht race concept is easy to understand, but completing this legendary ocean trial is no easy feat.

Also known as “the Everest of the sea”, the Vendée Globe yacht race is the ultimate ocean endurance test. The quest? Circumnavigating the globe by yacht, completely unassisted.

Named for the Département of Vendée in France (where the race begins and ends), the Vendée Globe was founded by Madagascar-born French deep-sea diver and yachtsman Philippe Jeantot in 1989. Since 1992, this world-famous round-the-world yacht race has taken place every four years.

The Vendée Globe is infamous for being an extreme and brutal quest of endurance and the ultimate ocean-racing battle. It takes place from November to February, placing contestants in the Southern Ocean during the austral summer.

Current Vendée Globe title holder : Yannick Bestaven, French skipper of Maître Coq IV won the 9th edition of the Vendée Globe yacht race in 2021.

2_Last_Fun_Fact

VENDÉE GLOBE YACHT RACE FUN FACT #1

To date, 167 contenders have braved the Vendée Globe. Of these, only 89 have managed to complete this punishing yacht race.

VENDÉE GLOBE YACHT RACE FUN FACT #2

Only one sailor has completed the Vendée Globe twice: Michel Desjoyeaux, in 2001 and 2009.

VENDÉE GLOBE YACHT RACE FUN FACT #3

In this yacht race, no one apart from the skipper is allowed aboard, the only exception being when a fellow competitor requires rescuing. This has happened twice in the race’s history. In the third Vendée Globe yacht race in 1996/1997, Brit Pete Goss rescued Frenchman Raphael Dinelli in the Southern Ocean. In 2009, Frenchman Vincent Riou saved his fellow countryman Jean le Cam after he capsized near Cape Horn, Chile.

WORLD’S BIGGEST YACHT RACE #2 – THE AMERICA’S CUP

3_Americas-Cup

Affectionately known as the Auld Mug, The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest consecutive sport and sailing event. Considered the pinnacle of yacht racing, this world-famous trophy is awarded every four years.

A best-of-13-race series, in America's Cup, the title defender yacht club faces only one challenger. The first yacht-club team to score a certain number of points is crowned the winner to become the prestigious title's newest defender. This sort of match racing requires years of preparation, millions of dollars – and very specific yacht-racing skills. It not only involves aggressive racing tactics; it also requires competitors to use the rules to put their opponents at a disadvantage to be victorious.

First awarded back in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a sailing race around the UK’s Isle of Wight (the race was won by a schooner named America), the trophy was first known as the RYS £100 Cup. It was later renamed after the yacht which won the first race and donated to the New York Yacht Club. After that, The America’s Cup was available for perpetual international competition.

This prestigious yacht race attracts not only the world's top sailors and yacht designers but also wealthy sponsors and entrepreneurs. Taking part in The America's Cup is extremely expensive and requires strong fundraising and management skills. These days, taking part in this yacht race can easily cost more than $100 million.

The 2013 winner, Golden Gate Yacht Club from San Francisco, was said to have spent an estimated $300 million on taking part in the yacht race!

Current title holder : The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron won the 36th edition of The America's Cup. The yacht club successfully defended the title in March 2021 in an AC75 foiling monohull called Te Rehutai.

4_Last_Fact

THE AMERICA'S CUP YACHT RACE FUN FACT #1

The America’s Cup yacht race is the oldest trophy in international sport. It predates the modern Olympic Games by 45 years.

THE AMERICA'S CUP YACHT RACE FUN FACT #2

Since the race’s inception in 1851, the United States embarked on what became the longest winning streak in the entire history of sport! The USA defended the trophy 24 times for a 132-year winning stretch from 1870 until 1983, when the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Australia II took the trophy from the Americans.

THE AMERICA'S CUP YACHT RACE FUN FACT #3 

The America’s Cup has fascinated royalty and industry leaders throughout history. From Australian real estate and brewing mogul Alan Bond to Irish-Scottish tea merchant Sir Thomas Lipton, the Aga Khan, US media mogul Ted Turner and tycoon Harold S. Vanderbilt, the yacht race has attracted numerous famous sponsors – and competitors.

WORLD’S BIGGEST YACHT RACE #3 – THE OCEAN RACE

5_Ocean_Race

Widely regarded as the toughest test in all of team sports, The Ocean Race is another round-the-world yacht race, held every 3 or 4 years since its 1973 inception. To date, there have been 12 editions of this brutal contest, with a combined 167 boats from 43 countries taking part.

Infamous for being one of sailing’s biggest circumnavigational challenges, The Ocean Race’s route changes with every race, including various ports of call. Competitors usually depart Europe in October to arrive at their final destination about nine months later, having covered around 39 000 nautical miles.

Initially named the Whitbread Round the World Race (after British brewing company Whitbread who sponsored the first race), it was christened The Volvo Ocean Race after the Swedish automobile manufacturer became the race’s sponsor in 2001.

The marathon ocean trial was renamed The Ocean Race in 2019. Recent editions of The Ocean Race had either 9 or 10 legs, with in-port races taking place in several of the stopover cities.

Each Ocean Race entry has a sailing crew racing round the clock – on certain legs, for more than 20 days at a time. Some of the trials these sailing crews face during their voyages include extreme temperatures varying from -5 to 40 °C, as well as treacherous sea conditions and intense fatigue.

Since the 2008-2009 edition of The Ocean Race, each competing yacht also has a dedicated media crew member aboard. This On-board Reporter (OBR) does not assist with sailing efforts, instead sending video and images to The Ocean Race headquarters via satellite – often from the middle of the ocean. Currently, the number of crew per competing yacht ranges between 7 and 10, depending on the gender ratio.

Interestingly, the Netherlands is the only country to have raked in three The Ocean Race victories, back-to-back in 1977-78 and 1981-82, and then again in 2005-6.

Current title holder : The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race was won by Dongfeng Race Team, a Chinese-sponsored Volvo Ocean 65 yacht. She had a crew of 14 and was skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier.

6_Last_Fact-1

THE OCEAN RACE FUN FACT #1

In the 2008-2009 instalment of The Ocean Race, the route was changed from previous years to include stops in Asia and India for the first time. This yacht race reached a cumulative television audience of 2 billion people around the globe!

THE OCEAN RACE FUN FACT #2

Harrowing as it may be, winning the Ocean Race will not bag competitors any cash prize. The accomplishment of taking part in – and completing – the race is said to be a sufficient award in itself.

THE OCEAN RACE FUN FACT #3

Crews taking part in this yacht race mostly rely on freeze-dried foods for nourishment, resulting in a lighter – and faster – vessel. For the same reason, crew members will often only take one change of clothes with them on their voyage.

MEET THE KNYSNA 550

Riveting as they may be to witness, taking part in a gruelling, adrenaline-packed yacht race around the globe isn’t everyone’s idea of fun.

As expert boutique yacht builders, at Knysna Yacht Company we pride ourselves on creating one-of-a-kind, luxury semi-custom yachts for our clients.

Learn more about our beautiful multihulled Knysna 550 yacht here . Available as a cruising catamaran with an optional flybridge, this boat is built not only for comfort, but performance as well.

7_Bottom

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2022 Boat of the Year: Best Offshore Racer

  • By Dave Reed
  • December 17, 2021

Sailing World Magazine’s annual Boat of the Year tests are conducted in Annapolis, Maryland, following the US Sailboat Show. With independent judges exhaustively inspecting the boats on land and putting them through their paces on the water, this year’s fleet of new performance-sailing boats spanned from small dinghies to high-tech bluewater catamarans. Here’s the best of the best from our 2022 Boat of the Year nominees »

As interest in doublehanded offshore racing piqued with the expectations it would be an Olympic sailing discipline in 2024, so too did the development and production of several purpose-built 30-footers. Dehler Yachts, Germany’s big production boatbuilder, jumped into the action with its own 30-footer, and as we’d expect of a Judel/Vrolijk and Co.-designed race boat, this one is an all-business shorthanded racing machine jam-packed with cool features found on grand‑prix boats twice its size.

“You can tell they started with a blank slate because the boat is so well-integrated with the design and construction—from bow to stern,” Greg Stewart says. “It hits its design purpose spot on. It’s a complete small offshore one-design, and it’s obvious there was a lot of development required to get things so right.”

Prototypes and mock-ups after mock-ups were required, Dehler says, to efficiently accommodate a lot of boat handling and living in such a compact craft. Virtually every rope on the boat spills into the cockpit, which is the way of life in shorthanded sailing, where everything happens at the back of the boat. Vigilance with line keeping, therefore, is paramount. That and carefully executed and planned maneuvers. In full-tilt conditions, there will be a lot going on in the cockpit, Stewart says, but everything’s easily at hand.

“All the control-line leads are well thought out,” he adds, pointing to the smooth-operating traveler controls and the individual gross and fine-tuned mainsheet flip cleats mounted on the cockpit floor.

Dehler 30 One Design

Powlison’s first impression at the dock was that the boat would be challenging to manage, but “once we went sailing, it all was logical. Yes, there’s a lot of line management, but once you’re disciplined to do that, the boat is much easier to sail than it looks.”

With the trio of judges and the owner piled on board during the test sail, it was immediately obvious that two is company and three is definitely a crowd. “It’s also not the type of boat where you’ll want to spontaneously invite an inexperienced crew [to go race],” Powlison says. “You will really need to know what you’re doing, but once you do get comfortable with everything, it will be a really easy boat to sail well.”

Ben Corson, the Annapolis-based owner of our test boat, had spent the better part of a year racing with his female partner and tinkering with the boat, and consequently, the boat is meticulously prepared, race-ready and offshore-compliant. There’s no mistaking what’s what and where—labels pasted throughout the boat identify halyards, sail and ballast controls, safety gear and even the electronics manuals.

Dehler 30 One Design

As a tightly controlled one-design class with ratified rules, owners like Corson can’t do much to the boat as it is, but there’s not much—if anything—an owner would need to change anyway. Everything on the boat, the judges agreed, works as it should. Adjustable backstays, for example, lead forward to clutches mounted on the cockpit wall, which allows the backstays to be kept taut or released without having to worry about loading to a winch during a maneuver. With the turn of a locking nut on the tiller arm, the steering system can be adjusted to change rudder toe-in on either side. The traveler track runs nearly the full width of the wide transom, opening up a wide range of adjustability for the 361-square-foot mainsail, and as a bonus, small removable reaching struts open up headsail sheeting angles. Stainless-steel foot braces are easy to deploy and stow, and allow the skipper to lock into a comfortable position over the angled coaming, with great visibility over the bow.

When the boat is powered up and leaning on the chine, Allen says, the sensation is exceptional: “This delivered the best sailing experience of all of the boats we tested. It was easy to tack and jibe, it tracked great, it’s easy to get to the sail controls, and we had no problems whatsoever with wiping out—and we tried hard a few times.”

With Allen on the tiller and Powlison managing the sheets as they started upwind into a 15-knot breeze, Stewart hit the chamfered rail. “My first impression from the rail was how high I was and how it was charging upwind—like a big boat. I couldn’t feel the chop, I didn’t get wet, it didn’t skid out at all. I was also amazed at how solid it felt; there wasn’t one bit of pounding, creaking or anything.”

Dehler 30 One Design

Eventually, Stewart came off the rail and they filled the ballast tank instead—to the equivalent of 400-plus pounds of rail meat. Allen says the gravity-fed water-ballast system took about five minutes to top off, roughly 30 seconds to transfer during a tack, and less than a minute to drain.

“Once we added the water ballast, the boat just powered forward,” Powlison says. “You can really feel the difference when the boat sits on the chine and just tracks straight ahead.”

Impressed as they were with the Dehler 30’s upwind pace, when they set the big red A2 spinnaker (1,076 square feet) and took off down the bay, they had no doubts about the boat’s downwind potential. They only used three of the five class-sail inventory on board, which includes an A2, an A5, a spinnaker staysail and a Code Zero, and if they had more time and distance, they would have certainly piled on more sail area.

“I could see going with the A5, the J3 and the staysail, and maybe a reefed main in a big breeze,” Allen says. “That would be fun—and wicked fast.”

Lightweight and strong is, of course, the holy grail of every race boat, and here too Dehler delivers with what the judges say is an immaculate cored-hull laminate and good detail in the finish work throughout the boat. Dehler was also keen to leave out extraneous weight from the interior to get the boat to weigh in at just over 6,000 pounds. Without any floorboards (there’s thin foam padding glued to the inner hull skin instead), they’re able to get 6 feet of standing headroom at the companionway (which has a sliding hatch hood on rails) and plenty of sitting headroom forward of the mast and into the V-berth.

To achieve a higher level of the camper-sailor experience, comfortable V-berth cushions and removable mesh hull liners are standard, as is a folding centerline table, rounded wooden bench seats, and backrests that double as pipe berths. With storage cubbies scattered about the boat, a marine toilet with a graywater tank, a two-burner stove and two quarter berths, this little race rocket is definitely a legit weekender too. Lithium-ion batteries and a 9.9 diesel with a retractable Stealth Drive shaft that pulls up flush with the hull will get you where you need to go and keep the electronics suite powered up just fine.

The Dehler 30 was a strong contender for Boat of the Year, but the judges couldn’t dismiss the boat’s biggest limitation: It will get hammered by most rating systems, which makes it a one-trick one-design offshore-racing pony. It is, however, an outstanding design for keen shorthanded sailors looking for a race-ready platform for just over $240,000. If—or when—international class racing ever becomes a real thing, the offshore sailing world will be a better place.

  • More: Boat of the Year , Boat of the Year 2022 , Dehler , Sailboats
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best yacht races in the world

(27)

SAILING is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large (usually fabric) foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centreboard, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the vessel relative to its surrounding medium (typically water, but also land and ice) and change its direction and speed. Mastery of the skill requires experience in varying wind and sea conditions, as well as knowledge concerning sailboats themselves and an understanding of one's surroundings.

Yacht racing is a form of sport reserved for yachts and larger sailboats. Yacht racing usually refers to sailboat racing in a variety of forms with large racing yachts; distinguished from dinghy racing.

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Boat Race News, Reviews & Resources

  • 30 greatest sailing escapes to experience in your lifetime - The Telegraph.
  • A Sailboat Race With a French Flair - "Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille is a combination of high-end fun on shore and drama on the water."
  • AMERICA'S CUP - Wikipedia.
  • Dinghy racing - Wikipedia.
  • International Sailing Federation | ISAF - since 1907. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the world governing body for the sport of sailing yacht racing.
  • Jaguar broke a world record with this tiny electric boat - The Verge.
  • Jim Ratcliffe: Britain's richest man plots America's Cup coup - "He's investing $141 million in a British America's Cup venture headed up by legendary sailor Ben Ainslie, but billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is still discovering things about his Ineos team skipper."
  • KyŌtei - literally "boat racing" and referred to as BOAT RACE, is a hydroplane racing event primary held in Japan. It is one of Japan's four "Public Sports", which are sports events where parimutuel betting is legal.
  • Louis Vuitton Cup - (2004-2013). Yachting competition connected with the America's Cup.
  • Monaco Energy Boat Challenge showcases clean energy solutions - "Twenty-seven teams from 23 nations have completed their registrations in the Solar and Energy classes, categories composed mainly of engineering students, in the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge to run from July 3 to July 8 at Monaco Yacht Club."
  • Performance Handicap Racing Fleet - handicapping system used for yacht racing in North America. It allows dissimilar classes of sailboats to be raced against each other.
  • Portsmouth Yardstick - system of handicapping used primarily in small-boat yacht racing.
  • Regatta - Wikipedia.
  • Riding in the Mercedes-AMG Cigarette Racing 515 Project One boat at 119 mph - The Verge.
  • Sailboat racing - Wikipedia.
  • SAILING - Wikipedia.
  • Syroco vs SP80: The race to create the world's fastest sail boat - "For more than eight years, the world sailing speed record has remained unbroken."
  • The science of sailing: inside the race across the world’s most remote ocean - "After a long hiatus, the epic Ocean Race is back - but this year, as well as dodging icebergs, cracking masts and suffering the occasional ‘hull sandwich failure’, the teams are gathering crucial data from places even research vessels rarely reach."
  • The Secrets of the Wave Pilots - The New York Times.
  • The Water Sporter - "Site dedicated to all things water sports. As well as product reviews and news, we have how-to guides, tutorials and much more here on the site, which is growing by the day."
  • What next for the America's Cup? - Sir Russell Coutts on making the pastime of titans an accessible attraction.
  • Why Britain's richest man Jim Ratcliffe has invested $153M in sailing - CNN sport.
  • World's best sailing destinations - CNN travel.
  • World's best sailing destinations - in pictures - CNN travel.
  • Yacht racing - Wikipedia.
  • Yachting paradise: Sardinia's Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - CNN.
  • yachts of America’s Cup are faster & weirder than ever - "Thanks to science (and a lot of money)."

Top 20 Major Boat Races

  • 37th AMERICA'S CUP - since 1851. (Aka the "Auld Mug".) The most prestigious regatta and match race in the sport of sailing, and the oldest active trophy in international sport, predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years.
  • Bermuda Race - since 1906. Widely known as the Bermuda Race, the Newport Bermuda Race is a biennial sailing yacht race from Newport, Rhode Island to the island of Bermuda sailed in even-numbered years. The sailing distance is 635 nautical miles (1175 km) across open ocean and the Gulf Stream.
  • Cigarette Racing - since 1969.
  • Commodores' Cup - biennial amateur team sailing regatta first held in 1992. The competition is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club consists of a number of events held in the oceans of the Solent, the English channel and the Isle of Wight.
  • COWES WEEK - since 1826. One of the longest-running regular regattas in the world. With 40 daily races, up to 1,000 boats, and 8,000 competitors ranging from Olympic and world class professionals to weekend sailors, it is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world.
  • Fastnet Race - since 1925. Famous biennial offshore yachting race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club of the United Kingdom. Generally considered one of the classic offshore races, 'Fastnet' is a difficult contest testing both inshore and offshore skills, boat and crew preparation and speed potential.
  • Giraglia Rolex Cup 2023 - 70th edition: June 9-17. Sinde 1953. Mediterranean keelboat regatta, named after the island of Giraglia, which has been held annually since 1953. The regatta consists of a week-long set of races, beginning with inshore races in the St. Tropez Bay followed by the primary event which begins in St. Tropez, France, passes through the Îles d'Hyères near the island of Giraglia, and then finishes off in Genoa, Italy, a total distance of 243 nautical miles (450 km).
  • HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA - since 1839. Rowing event held every year on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, England. The regatta lasts for 5 days (Wednesday to Sunday) over the first weekend in July.
  • Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - since 1981. "The history of the Voiles de St Tropez began on September 29th, 1981 when the sailing boat Pride launched a challenge to the 12 meter Ikra on a course going from the village of St Tropez to the beach of Pampelonne through the Nioulargo (nest of the sea in south french dialect). Since every year and during 2 weeks, the most extraordinary sailing boats of the world, modern and traditional, meet in the Gulf of Saintt Tropez to challenge each other in an atmosphere where competition and conviviality mix. From this edition the format of the Voiles de Saint Tropez is enlarged with 2 weeks of regattas instead of one. The first week is reserved for yachts under 24m, the second week for yachts over 24m."
  • Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille - since 2010. "A truly grandiose spectacle." 1,200 sailors, 63 racing yachts, Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille is the perfect combination of sporting performance and innovation. Richard Mille has been an active partner of Les Voiles de St. Barth since the event was created in 2010.
  • 10th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge - "Faced with environmental and technical challenges that require an urgent response to move forward, the Yacht Club de Monaco aims to be the driving force behind a new vision for yachting and to promote any positive approaches through this unique event." July 3-8, 2023.
  • Route du Rhum - since 1978. Transatlantic single-handed yacht race, which takes place every four years in November. The course is between Saint Malo, Brittany, Metropolitan France and Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, overseas France.
  • Sailing at the Asian Games - since 1970.
  • Sailing World Championships - world championships organized by International Sailing Federation (ISAF). All Class that are member of the International Sailing Federation may hold class world championships in addition to those initialed by the organisation.
  • Stotesbury Cup Regatta - since 1927. One of the largest high school rowing competitions. It is held annually in mid-May over a two-day period along the Schuylkill River near Boathouse Row in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Competing crews come from schools all over North America.
  • Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - since 1945. (Sometimes referred to as the Bluewater Classic in the Australian media) is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km). The race is run in co-operation with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.
  • The Boat Race - since 1829. Annual rowing race between the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club, rowed between competing eights on the River Thames in London, England.
  • The Ocean Race - since 1973. The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world, held every three or four years since 1973. Originally named the Whitbread Round the World Race after its initiating sponsor, British brewing company Whitbread, in 2001 it became the Volvo Ocean Race after Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo took up the sponsorship, and in 2019 it was renamed The Ocean Race.
  • Victoria to Maui Yacht Race - since 1965. The longest offshore sailing race off the west coast of North America, is the pinnacle of Pacific Northwest ocean racing. First contested in 1965, since 1968 the Vic-Maui has run in even-numbered years, starting in June or July off Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and finishing near Lahaina, Maui, United States, a distance of approximately 2,308 nautical miles (4,274 km).
  • WORLD CRUISING CLUB - since 1986. Global sailing event organisers World Cruising Club (WCC) are best known for the ARC, the world’s largest annual trans-ocean sailing event. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, to use its official title, is the originator of the many WCC cruising rallies now taking place around the globe.
  • WORLD MATCH RACING TOUR | WMRT - professional sailing series, featuring 9 World Championship events across the globe, sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation with "Special Event" status. The tour currently spans 3 continents.

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The Fast and Furious Dragon Boat Racers of Foshan

author Tan Yunfei (谭云飞)

  • June 10, 2024

Photo Credit: Tan Yunfei

Tan yunfei (谭云飞), in foshan, the ming-dynasty tradition of dragon boat racing continues to draw daring local competitors and big crowds.

It’s often said that in China’s affluent Guangdong province, billionaires are barely distinguishable from the most humble migrant workers. Local landlords, who often live in riches simply by collecting rent on their myriad apartments or buildings, can be seen happily lazing around in worn-out T-shirts and flip-flops, and have even been known to take up side jobs as vegetable stall vendors or street cleaners. No matter how unassuming they appear, however, it only takes the arrival of Duanwu Festival to filter the true landlords from regular folk.

In the lead-up to Dragon Boat Festival , as Duanwu Festival is known in English and which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month on the Chinese lunar calendar, boat racers across Guangdong can be found practicing in their “ dragon boats ” in lakes or rivers for hours at night. This includes a sizable cohort of avid landlord hobbyists, who have not gone unnoticed thanks to their fervor for the sport. The hashtag “How much do Guangdong landlords value boat racing?” has attracted over 9 million views and thousands of comments on the microblogging platform Weibo. One commenter quips about how “the sinking of just one ship could influence the province’s GDP.”

Performances, like acrobatics and lion dances, are often staged before and after the race

Performances, like acrobatics and lion dances, are often staged before and after dragon boat races

Liu Zhifeng, one such amateur boat racer from Foshan in Guangdong, admits that he and his compatriots value Duanwu even more than the Lunar New Year . “Our relatives and friends abroad, no matter how far away they may be, will come back for Duanwu to help [with the race], but not for Lunar New Year,” the telecommunications engineer, who is in his thirties, tells TWOC. His team, one of three in his village, begins training almost every night after work two months before the festival arrives.

Read more about Dragon Boat Festival:

  • How Foshan’s Artisans Craft Dragon Boats
  • Discover the Many Legends of Dragon Boat Festival
  • Idioms About the Man Who Inspired Dragon Boat Festival

In fact, the Duanwu celebrations in Foshan’s Diejiao township (which consists of 15 villages, including Liu’s Dongsheng village) have been attracting former residents and spectators from all around for the last decade or so. Featuring a 35-kilometer river network that winds among the villages, Diejiao is renowned for its exhilarating races, which have been dubbed “dragon boat drift” or “Fast and Furious on water” on account of participants needing to navigate their 25-meter-long vessels around a slew of five-meter-wide S, C, L, and T-shaped curves. As a testament to the popularity of Diejiao’s dragon boat races, in addition to the tourists that crowded along the course during last June’s two-day competition, over 30 million people also tuned in online.

Villagers prepare their dragon boat before the competition

Villagers prepare their dragon boat before the competition

Diejiao’s dragon boat races are notorious for racers needing to navigate especially narrow and winding waterways

Diejiao’s dragon boat races are notorious for racers needing to navigate especially narrow and curved waterways

Diejiao’s dragon boat races are notorious for racers needing to navigate especially narrow and curved waterways

Diejiao’s dragon boat races are notorious for racers needing to navigate especially narrow and curved waterways

The history of dragon boat races in Foshan can be traced back to the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). Of Dragon Boat Festival, the Local Records of Shunde (《顺德县志》), a district of Foshan, describes the scene: “During Duanwu, [people] make rice dumplings, drink calamus liquor, tie mugwort to their doors, and villages prepare their dragon boats to welcome the gods, all the while various instruments play.” A 592-year-old, nearly 37-meter-long dragon boat made from Bornean ironwood still exists in Foshan’s Yanbu township. Each year, it is dredged up from the muddy river bed, where it is stored year-round, and then paraded around the nearby waterways in a ceremony that evokes the “rising” and washing of the “dragon.”

Diejiao’s modern-day dragon boat races are commonly believed to have begun in the early 1980s, evolving over the past five decades into their current form. In them, a team of around 40 people, including 32 rowers, one drummer, and several helmsmen at each end of the boat, compete rowing the 500 to 650-meter-long course. Times range from 2 to 4 minutes and can often end in a flash finish. According to Liu, who learned how to row as a child but only started participating in the competitions in around 2010, the traditional Bornean ironwood or teak boats of his parents’ generation have made way for lighter cedarwood varieties, mostly in the pursuit of speed. As one Guangdong folk saying goes: “It’s better to crash the boat than be late.”

Residents secure their seats along the course, especially on tight bends, days in advance

Residents secure their seats along the course, especially on tight bends, days in advance

Tourists arrive early to get a good vantage point before the race officially begins at around 2 p.m.

Tourists arrive early to get a good vantage point before the race officially begins at around 2:00 p.m.

Locals watch a live stream of the race on TV

Locals watch a livestream of the race on TV

Though he dismisses the comment about what would happen if one of these “landlord boats” were to crash as a joke, Liu admits that the sport is prohibitively costly. “[The team] has spent over 20,000 yuan on drinking water alone, and another several tens of thousands of yuan on food [during the two-month training]. The fee for the coach costs several hundred yuan per day, and the ship’s maintenance and refurbishment can cost hundreds of thousands of yuan,” he says.

However, the locals state they don’t care about the money spent, just so long as their traditions and heritage continue. He Xiangzhi, a resident of Dongsheng village who grew up attending dragon boat races, hopes that the sport can prosper. “When I was young, I would often go door to door ringing a gong to raise money for the ‘Dragon Boat Banquet,’” the now 54-year-old told the news platform Southcn.com last year, referring to the meal that was traditionally prepared to feed the competitors but caters to the whole village today.

Dongsheng village organizes its 100-plus-table Dragon Boat Banquet outside since the Ancestral Halls that usually host such events are not big enough

Dongsheng village organizes its 100-plus-table Dragon Boat Banquet outside since the Ancestral Halls that usually host such events are not big enough

Village donors and other race sponsors are publicized during the event

Village donors and other race sponsors are publicized during the event

Liu agrees. “It’s mainly about passing down the tradition. It’s useless if no one joins despite [the abundant] investment.” His team placed second among the 13 teams in 2023’s Diejiao Dragon Boat Race, winning a token prize of 1,700 yuan. Meanwhile, the donations from villagers, community and local government, and business sponsors, ranging from several hundred to millions of yuan, are put aside for the team to use toward their labor of love. Liu claims some locals who have moved to work in other cities pay contractors to do their jobs so they can go on leave and return home to join or witness the races.

One winning team parade in the river

One winning team parade in the river

Locals often learn how to row from a young age on account of the easy access to water

Locals often learn how to row from a young age on account of the easy access to water

Tourists enjoy a dragon boat tour on the river

Tourists enjoy a dragon boat tour on the river

Though the fiscal reward for taking part may be negligible, it’s also about honor—and good old-fashioned competition between neighboring villages. “[If we win] we can raise our heads high, stand tall, and stride like the wind,” Liu says.

Photography by Tan Yunfei

Tan Yunfei is the editorial director of The World of Chinese. She reports on Chinese language, food, traditions, and society. Having grown up in a rural community and mainly lived in the cities since college, she tries to explore and better understand China's evolving rural and urban life with all readers.

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54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

Helen Fretter

  • Helen Fretter
  • June 15, 2024

Extreme conditions severely depleted the fleet of the 2024 Round the Island Race, with hundreds of boats opting not to compete or retiring in 50-knot winds

best yacht races in the world

Competitors in today’s 2024 Round the Island Race , an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded at The Needles, the westernmost point of the course.

The Round the Island Race traditionally attracts one of the largest fleets of any yacht race, and this year saw 939 boats originally entered.

However, today’s extreme conditions have severely depleted both the number of starters and finishers, and just 153 yachts completed the race with 418 retiring.

First to complete the course was Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling , which posted an impressive elapsed time of 3h 39m 5s.

best yacht races in the world

The Gunboat 80 Highland Fling was first multihull in the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

Owner Irvine Laidlaw said: “It was the first event for us in 2024 and we’ve travelled over 3,000 miles from Palma to be here but it’s worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the race – I like the fact we go around an island with the start and finish in the same place, it’s rather satisfying.”

Boat captain Xavier Mecoy added: “[The] Boat is only a year old and it’s the first time we’ve sailed her in a big breeze, we’ve never had 2 reefs in the main before, so that was pretty exciting and we spent quite a bit of time sailing bare-headed as it was safer. 

“We were charging around the course doing 30 knots of boat speed at times.”

First monohull around was the Cowes based TP52 Notorious , owned by Peter Morton, who finished more than 40 minutes ahead of the nearest monohull yacht in 4h 21m 20s.

Notorious also finished 1st overall in IRC on correcrted time, winning the coveted Gold Roman Bowl.

Peter Morton, owner and skipper of Notorious, said: “I’ve not had the boat that long but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“It’s one of the most famous yacht races in the World and we went out to try and win. It’s 40 years ago since I won it on a little 25ft boat called Odd Job , so today was very special for me.”

best yacht races in the world

Peter Morton’s TP52 Notorious took monohull line honours and 1st overall under IRC in the severe conditions of the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

54 knots at the Needles

Despite a deceptively sunny start as the first fleets set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 0600, conditions quickly deteriorated to become even more extreme than many forecasts had suggested. The Needles Battery wind station (above the famous rock formation) recorded gusts of 54 knots from 0700 and a steady wind of 39-45 knots from the south-west. Competitors reported 35-40 knots going through Hurst Narrows.

This led to a severe sea state on the south of the island which saw many boats which had started choosing to turn back before the Needles. Fewer than 100 boats in the IRC and ISCRS fleets (the majority of monohulls) were recorded as rounding the Needles. 

Many of those retiring have reported sail damage, particularly torn mainsails. There was a collision off Yarmouth, and at least one man overboard incident, which was recovered swiftly. However, organisers report that there were just nine other incidents – fewer than in previous years. Local RNLI and Independent Lifeboat crews were on the water across the Solent and on the south of the island supporting the fleet throughout the day.

David Rolfe, skipper of the Sigma 33 Shadowfax was one boat whose race ended by the Needles. Shadowfax  was welcoming her new part owners aboard for their very first race on the boat.

“We started with a reef and our Number 2 [jib],” explained Rolfe. “It was, I would say deceptively – not calm, but quieter than forecast. When we came off the line, and if anything, it then dropped a little bit. As we headed down the Solent we even had a little bit of a talk about how we might set the spinnaker lines for when we’re on the south side of the island.

“Then a weather band that came in, a whole load of rain squalls, and that just changed mode completely. Suddenly we were in full on, probably 30-odd knots, gusting high 30s. It was a bit on and off through those squalls, some heavy rain, maybe even a little bit of hail in amongst it.

“The sea state was a bit rough, but not crazy. And then as we got towards Hurst, it went up another level. We could see it coming down the track towards us, and a few boats were really on their ear. One boat was definitely 45 degrees or more over, out of control, just pushed on its side by the wind. So we were battened down and gearing up for that.

“Then we got pushed right on our ear. We’d trimmed the main out. We’re trying to control it, but we were right on our side and going slowly, and almost sideways! I don’t know the wind strength, probably gusting into the 40s. And the sea was getting bigger and rougher with wind over tide really driving it pretty hard. So we decided we needed to go for a second reef, put that in. And after putting that in [we] tacked off to go into the full [tidal] stream through Hurst.

“That’s when we saw, unfortunately, we’d ripped our main, probably as we were reefing it. That was the end of the race for us. We bore away and hurtled back, surfing down these waves on our way back to Cowes.”

best yacht races in the world

The Needles recorded winds of 54 knots as the 2024 Round the Island Race fleet passed the landmark. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

2024 Round the Island fleets cancelled

The race typically attracts a large cohort of family and amateur crews, for many of whom this is the only race they may compete in all year. A building forecast over the preceding week had led many competitors to withdraw ahead of the race. 

The day before, organisers had also announced that eight classes would not start . Racing was cancelled for the Classic Racing Yacht (ISCRS), Diam 2 class, Gaffers under 23ft, J/70s, both divisions of Bridgedeck Multihulls, the smaller Grand Prix and MOCRA Multihulls, and the Sportsboat division.

Race safety officer Mark Southwell said on Friday 14 June, when making the announcement: “We will only cancel fleets where there is a significant chance that the majority of the fleet could get into difficulties and risk injury to the crew, a situation that could quickly overwhelm the support services. 

“For other fleets, with a wide range of crew experience and boat types, it is each skipper’s sole responsibility to evaluate the capability of their crew and the suitability of their boat to handle the expected conditions (including wind and sea state) and make the decision as to whether their boat should take part.”

Race Director, Dave Atkinson said in a statement from the organisers after the race: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the Race Team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.”

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and co-operation before and during the race on Saturday. Despite the challenging conditions we only had nine incidents connected to the race which is less than previous years, this shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision making that went into undertaking of the race.”

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The World’s Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

By Brett Berk

most expensive yachts

Though superyachts are already among the most costly consumer items available, the prices of the most expensive yachts in the world are still astounding. In recent decades, those with money to burn have settled on these floating palaces as an ideal locus for demonstrating their prosperity, and, as such, the global luxury yacht industry is undergoing a golden age. The world’s überwealthy think of their motor yachts as toys, and they’re constantly trying to outdo each other in scale, design, amenities, materials, and sheer profligacy.

Knowing this, what features does it take to own one of the most expensive yachts in existence? And how much do these opulent vessels actually cost? To that end, AD has compiled a list of the five priciest superyachts currently out on the water. As with many things connected to the very wealthy, details are shrouded in secrecy—often intentionally—to shield the assets from taxation or seizure, or to protect privacy.

Below, dive into the five reportedly most expensive yachts in the world.

5. Dubai ($400 million)

Image may contain Transportation Vehicle Yacht and Boat

This 531-foot yacht is reportedly owned by United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai. Though it was originally planned for another Middle Eastern potentate, Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, he suddenly voided the contract in 2001. With exteriors designed by Andrew Winch and interiors by Platinum Yachts, this German-built Blohm + Voss vessel features several Jacuzzis, a pool inlaid with handmade mosaic tiles that is reportedly large enough to hold 115 people, a circular staircase, a discotheque with an appropriately sized dance floor, squash courts, a movie theater, a dining room for 90 guests (the other 25 presumably have to eat in the pool?), a helipad, and a submarine.

4. Topaz ($527 million)

most expensive yacht

Resembling a stealth bomber, this 483-foot ship is reportedly owned by Russian fertilizer and coal oligarch Andrey Melnichenko. With exteriors by Tim Heywood Design Ltd. and interior designs by Terence Disdale Design, this German-built Lürssen Yacht features a 2,500-square-foot primary bedroom, six guest suites (with moveable walls so they can be transformed into four grand staterooms), glassware and tableware fashioned from French crystal, a helicopter hangar, a 30-foot speedboat tender, and three swimming pools, including one with a glass-bottom dangling menacingly above a disco.

3. Azzam ($600 million)

most expensive yachts

This 590-foot ship is currently thought to be the largest private yacht in the world and one of the fastest, with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. To achieve this immense scale and speed, it required a pair of gas turbines and two stratospherically potent diesel engines, rendering it very difficult to build. It is reportedly owned by a member of the royal family of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With exteriors by Nauta Yacht and interiors by French decorator Cristophe Leoni, this yacht was also built by Lürssen in Germany. The vessel is set apart by its early 19th-century Empire-style veneered furniture, as well as its state-of-the-art security systems, including a fully bulletproof primary suite and a high-tech missile deterrence capabilities.

2. Eclipse ($1.5 billion)

most expensive yachts

In addition to being the second-costliest, this 533-footer is thought to be the world’s second-largest private yacht. Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich , the ship was claimed to be located in Turkey and may be impounded as part of the United Kingdom’s sanctions against Russia. Designed by Terry Disdale and built by Blohm + Voss, it features two-dozen guest cabins, two swimming pools, two helipads, and multiple hot tubs. For privacy and security reasons, it hosts a missile detection system, bulletproof windows in the primary bedroom and on the bridge, an anti-paparazzi shield, and, when all of that fails, a mini-submarine that can take a few VIPs 164 feet under the ocean’s surface.

1. History Supreme ($4.8 billion)

History Supreme has never actually been seen in a major port, and rumors suggest that the yacht may not be real and instead just a publicity stunt. Reportedly owned by Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Kuok, and designed by Stuart Hughes in the UK, the yacht is only a paltry 100 feet long. Its worth is said to be derived from its lavish finishes, including a statue constructed from genuine Tyrannosaurus rex bones, a liquor bottle embedded with an 18.5-carat diamond, and a primary bedroom with one wall made from meteorite and another from a 24-karat gold Aquavista Panoramic Wall Aquarium. If you see it somewhere, let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is Jeff Bezos’s yacht?

Most Expensive Yachts

This is why people like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos work to keep their yachts out of the public eye. Though we are not including Jeff Bezos’s yacht, Koru (Maori for “coil”), in this list because it is a sailing yacht and thus excluded from the realm of these motor yachts, it created controversy in the Netherlands when its presence became known. Jeff Bezos’s abided the $500 million price tag of Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht builder, to create the 417-foot megayacht. But when the company, at Bezos’s behest, requested that a local bridge be dismantled to make way for its gigantic mast on its journey from the shipyard, public sentiment turned against the cento-billionaire, and Oceano shelved its request. Maybe a port like Monaco would be more accommodating?

Also not on this list is the world’s largest private yacht, reportedly owned by Alisher Usmanov. Though size and cost typically scale in the world of superyachts, this is not always the case (see #1 in this list.) Also, Somnio, the 728-feet dream-monikered yacht liner that tops our list of the world’s largest private yachts , isn’t quite done being constructed. And it is not, like most of the largest superyachts, privately owned by one individual or family—it’s a kind of floating condo, with 39 eight-figure homes available to potential owners solely by invitation.

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24 Hours of Le Mans 2024: Start times, schedule and how to watch on TV

24 Hours of Le Mans 2024: Start times, schedule and how to watch on TV

best yacht races in the world

Find out when and where to watch the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours, the 92nd running of the French endurance classic.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, held annually in France, is one of the most prestigious motorsport events in the world. From June 15th to 16th, 2024, 186 drivers across 62 teams will battle it out on the Circuit de la Sarthe, aiming to cover the greatest distance in a gruelling 24-hour period.

For F1 fans, Le Mans 2024 offers an opportunity to see some familiar faces behind the wheel of a different beast. Ex-champions like Jenson Button and a host of former F1 drivers, including Mick Schumacher , Romain Grosjean , Daniil Kvyat , and Nyck de Vries, will be trading their single-seaters for the high-powered Hypercars.

These drivers will be joined by the likes of Robert Kubica , Antonio Giovinazzi , and Kamui Kobayashi, all aiming to etch their names onto the illustrious Le Mans winner's list.

The event also holds a special place in motorsport history. It's one of the races that make up the prestigious 'Triple Crown,' alongside the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.

24 Hours of Le Mans start times

The 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 4pm local time on Saturday, June 15, 2024, and end on Sunday, June 16 at the same time. Find the start times converted to your local time zone below:

Local time (CEST): 4pm Saturday United States (EDT): 10am Saturday United States (CDT): 9am Saturday United States (PDT): 7am Saturday UK time: 3pm Saturday Australia (Melbourne): 12am Sunday South Africa: 4pm Saturday

How to watch the 24 Hours of Le Mans on TV today

The answer depends on your location. Here's a breakdown of how to catch the action around the world:

United Kingdom: Eurosport, Discovery+ United States and Canada: MAX, MotorTrend, CTV Europe: Eurosport, Discovery+, La Chaîne L’Equipe South America: Bandsports, DirecTV Sports, Fox Sports Asia and Australia: Eurosport, J Sports 1, StanSport, Doujin Africa: SuperSport, Supersport, Variety4

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  1. 13 Most Famous Yacht Races In The World

    3. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. (Image: Rolex/ Carlo Borlenghi) Hosted annually by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, this race covers a distance of 630 nautical miles (1,166.76 km) between the starting point in Sydney Harbour and the finish line in Tasmanian port Hobart.

  2. 13 most famous yacht races in the world

    11. The America's Cup. The America's Cup is arguably the most important event in the yachting world - perhaps even more so than the Olympic sailing competitions. First raced around the Isle of Wight in 1851, the competition was named in honour of the first winner, an iconic, US-built yacht christened America.

  3. The Top 10 Most Epic Sailing Races in the World

    The Vendée Globe is a prestigious single-handed, round-the-world yacht race that takes place every four years. It is known for being one of the most grueling, most challenging sailing races, attracting the best sailors from around the world. Race Distance. The Vendée Globe covers approximately 24,000 nautical miles, making it one of the ...

  4. 16 Most Prestigious World Regattas (2/2)

    World Match Racing Tour. The world's leading professional sailing series started in 2001 in its current format. Each year, 20 teams show tactical teamwork skills close to the shore, so the public can follow the races. Sailors compete in identically supplied racing yachts. Media and broadcast cover the whole event in more than 180 countries.

  5. Famous Sailing Yacht Races: A Guide to the Most Prestigious Regattas

    The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is one of the most famous and challenging sailing yacht races in the world. The race takes place every year on Boxing Day and covers over 630 nautical miles from Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania. The race attracts the best sailors and sailing teams from around the world, and the competition is fierce.

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    World Sailing Rankings - Current ranking tables and information for fleet racing, match racing, para sailing and esailing

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    The Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac) is a biennial offshore yacht race held in odd-numbered years starting off the Pt. Fermin buoy in San Pedro, California, and ending off Diamond Head in Hawaii, a distance of around 2,225 nautical miles (2,560 mi; 4,121 km). It is one of the world's oldest major ocean races for sailing yachts.

  8. 10 Must-See Sailboat Races around the World

    The Fastnet Race. The Fastnet Race is a classic offshore yacht race that offers a thrilling combination of inshore and offshore racing. Starting in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England, the race takes competitors around the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland before finishing in Plymouth, England. The race is renowned for its tough ...

  9. The World's Most Iconic Yacht Races

    The America's Cup is widely regarded as the world's most prestigious yacht race, attracting the best sailors and yachts from around the globe. Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race . The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia annually organizes the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, a renowned sailing event.

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    One of the largest and the most visited world regattas takes place in the Mediterranean every year in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy in October since 1969. It gathers around 2,000 boats (for which it is dubbed as the most crowded regatta), 25,000 sailors and 250,000 spectators. Sailors compete for the Barcolana Trophy, and many others, in a 15-mile ...

  11. The Ocean Race

    The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world, held every three or four years since 1973. Originally named the Whitbread Round the World Race after its initiating sponsor, British brewing company Whitbread, [1] in 2001 it became the Volvo Ocean Race after Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo took up the sponsorship, [1] and in 2019 it was ...

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    The Fastnet Race is one of the world's most challenging regatta sailing competitions and prestigious offshore yacht races. It is a biennial event organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and takes participants on a demanding course from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland and back to Plymouth.

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    The course for The Ocean Race has a new first stopover mid-Atlantic at the Cape Verdes, before an extra long Southern Ocean leg of 12,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, to Itajai, Brazil ...

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    Every other year, Cowes is preceded by the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, an important offshore race hosted by the UK's Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Royal Yacht Squadron. The race is open to sailboats measuring between nine and 21 metres and follows a course that begins in Cowes and rounds Ireland's Fastnet rock before finishing in ...

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    Location: Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. Next race: July 30 — August 6, 2022; July 29 — August 4, 2023. Website: Cowesweek.co.uk. Cowes Week is one of the oldest regattas in the world. It first took place in 1826 and outrun such top events as America's Cup — by 25 years, and Kiel Week — by 56 years.

  18. A Look At The World's 3 Biggest Yacht Races

    WORLD'S BIGGEST YACHT RACE #2 - THE AMERICA'S CUP. Affectionately known as the Auld Mug, The America's Cup is the world's oldest consecutive sport and sailing event. Considered the pinnacle of yacht racing, this world-famous trophy is awarded every four years. A best-of-13-race series, in America's Cup, the title defender yacht club ...

  19. 2022 Boat of the Year: Best Offshore Racer

    The Dehler 30 One Design is selected Sailing World Magazine's Best Offshore Racer in its Boat of the Year competition. The 30-foot pure raceboat is designed for racing with fewer crewmembers ...

  20. World's Top 20 Major Sailboat & Yacht Racing Events

    World's best sailing destinations - CNN travel. World's best sailing destinations - in pictures - CNN travel. Yacht racing - Wikipedia. Yachting paradise: Sardinia's Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - CNN. yachts of America's Cup are faster & weirder than ever - "Thanks to science (and a lot of money)." Top 20 Major Boat Races. 37th AMERICA'S CUP - since ...

  21. Yacht racing, sailing news, events and blogs

    Swan 65 test: The triumphant return of a true sailing icon. Read more. Yacht racing, sailing news, events and blogs from Yachting World, covering the world's biggest yacht races.

  22. Best performance yachts: Our pick of the top options

    Italia yachts 12.98. At 5ft longer and from the board of Cossutti (who Polli once worked under), the Italia Yachts 12.98 is another cruiser-racer in the same grain as the GS40, but with a markedly ...

  23. Future of Luxury Yachting: The 25 Best Yacht Brands

    2019 Sunseeker motor yacht, 131′ (40.2 m), (US$22,650,789). View the listing. One of the largest UK yacht builders, Sunseeker mainly manufactures its vessels in Poole, Dorset. Four superyacht models (ranging from 116-161 ft.) secure Sunseeker's place in the niche of large and extravagant vessels.

  24. The Gemini Boat Race 2024

    The Boat Race 2025 - Date Announced. The 2025 Gemini Boat Race will take. place on Sunday 13th April 2025. 299 days. 20 hours. 45 minutes. 27 Seconds. Join us in 2025. Announcement.

  25. The Fast and Furious Dragon Boat Races in Guangdong

    A 592-year-old, nearly 37-meter-long dragon boat made from Bornean ironwood still exists in Foshan's Yanbu township. Each year, it is dredged up from the muddy river bed, where it is stored year-round, and then paraded around the nearby waterways in a ceremony that evokes the "rising" and washing of the "dragon.".

  26. 54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

    Extreme conditions severely depleted the fleet of the 2024 Round the Island Race, with hundreds of boats opting not to compete or retiring in 50-knot winds. Competitors in today's 2024 Round the ...

  27. The World's Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

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  28. Boat Insurance: An Essential Guide

    Boat insurance costs approximately 1.5% of the boat's total value annually. For example, a boat worth $20,000 would cost roughly $300/year to insure, while a yacht worth $200,000 could be more like $3,000 to insure. According to a MarketWatch report published in December 2022, the average cost of boat insurance last year ranged from $200 to $500.

  29. 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024: Start times, schedule and how to watch on TV

    The event also holds a special place in motorsport history. It's one of the races that make up the prestigious 'Triple Crown,' alongside the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. 24 Hours of Le Mans start times. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 4pm local time on Saturday, June 15, 2024, and end on Sunday, June 16 at the same time.