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Sailing Sport: It’s History, Formats, Races & Top Players- All You Need to Know

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We all know that sailing is a type of water sport that is played in some of the most prominent countries around the world. It is done through a yacht. The meaning of sailing is the use of yachts and bigger rowboats, as opposed to dinghy racing, which uses open boats. Let’s explore the meaning and everything about the sailing sport.

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Sailing Sports- History 

All about sailing sports- Kreedon
Image source:- Britannica

Sailing has been used for journeys and fishery for centuries, but it only became a sport in the seventeenth century. The Dutch are said to have been the first to race yachts for fun. They presented Charles II with a ship, and the sport quickly gained popularity in England before spreading to America. Yachting was a leisure sport for the wealthy until the 2nd half of the twentieth century. However, materials like plywood had become accessible during the 1950s and 1960s, making boat building quicker and simpler than ever before, making the sport more accessible to everyone. Today, it is a sport relished by millions of people all over the world, both competitively and for leisure. Everything from rivers and lakes to the vast open ocean.

Event Disciplines

Fleet racing

Fleet races encompass a range of participants, varying from four boats to numerous boats competing within a single race. A regatta must have at least three races to be counted. The standing of each boat across all races is combined to formulate a final score, with victory going to the participant with the lowest score.

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Match racing

Match racing involves a head-to-head competition between just two boats. The most renowned event of this kind is the America’s Cup. Unlike other races where speed is the primary focus, match racing tactics revolve around reaching the finish line ahead of the opponent. Additionally, the tactics employed at the start of the race hold a distinct significance.

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Team racing

Team racing typically involves a contest between two groups, each comprising three boats. While it shares similarities with match racing in terms of technique, it introduces an additional layer: the cumulative score of the entire race holds the key. In the context of three-on-three team racing, this implies that the team achieving ten or fewer points emerges victorious. Consequently, a variety of tactics are employed to strategically position teammates in order to establish effective combinations for success. The most sought-after stable combinations are commonly referred to as “Play one” (1-2-anything), “Play two” (2-3-4), and “Play 4” (1-4-5). These setups are generally acknowledged as optimal for securing victory and pose significant challenges for opposing teams aiming to mount an offensive strategy.

  • There are other discipline as well like Speed Sailing & Wave Riding.

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Major Competitions in Sailing

Just like other sports, sailing competition also comprises various professionals and amateur tournaments both at different levels of national and international. Sailing joined the Olympics in 1900. The sport gained popularity in the 1960s, as more and more nations began to participate. Around 270 athletes from 62 countries competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Aside from the Olympic games, here is the list of the top 5 sailing races. Sailing Competition
1. Cowes Week
2. Volvo Ocean Race
3. America’s Cup
4. Vendee Globe
5. Barcolana


Sailing Sport ? KreedOn
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Sailing- Cowes Week 

Cowes Week is an iconic part of the British sports calendar as one of the globe’s largest and oldest annual sailing regattas. Around 8,000 participants compete at Solent, ranging from world champion pros to beginners.

Volvo Ocean Race 

The Volvo Ocean Race, formerly titled the Whitbread Round the World Race, has occurred every 3 years since 1973. It begins in Europe in October and is regarded as the world’s longest and most difficult professional tournament, lasting nearly nine months and requiring athletes to contend with adverse weather circumstances.

America’s Cup

America’s Cup, which began in 1851, is one of the oldest major sailboat races. The leading professional sailors, boat designers, and the bulk of affluent business people and sponsors flock to the event because of its distinguished reputation.

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Vendee Globe 

The Vendee Globe takes its name from the French department of Vendee, where the race begins and ends. This is commonly regarded as one of the most difficult and severe sporting events. It is a solitary, non-stop round-the-world race. It lasts for more than 3 months and happens every four years.


The Barcolana Regatta is one of the biggest and most well-known in the Mediterranean. Its first race took place in 1969, and it is held annually in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy. The event draws tens of thousands of competitors, including 25,000* sailors and 250,000* visitors who can watch the race from a variety of locations across Trieste.

The Basic Rules of Sailing Sports

  • Boats on a port tack must maintain a safe distance from boats on a starboard tack.
  • When boats are in the same direction and overlapped, the boat to windward (the boat nearest to the wind) must keep clear of the boat to leeward (the boat furthest from the wind).
  • Boats on the same tack but not overlapped, the boat in front must maintain clear of the boat in front. 
  • While tacking, a boat must keep clear of other boats that are not tacking.
  • Even if you have right of way, it is your responsibility to avoid a crash once it is obvious that the other boat is not maintaining clear.
  • Unless you gain the right of way as a result of the other boat’s conduct, you must first give the other boat enough distance to keep clear. (15th Rule)
  • Even if it has the right-of-way, a boat changing direction must do so in such a way that the laden boat has an opportunity to “stay clear”.
  • If you catch up towards another boat and wish to pass it to leeward, you must not luff further than you would have if the other boat wasn’t there.

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Sailing Sports in India 

indian sports
Image source:- News 18

In India, the first known race was sailed on 6 February 1830 in the western city of Bombay, and sailing as a sport in India may be traced back to that date. There were five major sailing clubs in India when the British left in 1947: Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Barrackpore, and Nainital. Currently, clubs may be found in Kerala, Pune, Goa, Hyderabad, and Bhopal. The governing body for sailing, windsurfing, and motorboating in India is the Yachting Association of India. On May 15, 1960, the Yachting Association of India was formally established. With backing from the Indian Navy and the Yachting Association of India, India’s first National Sailing School (NSS) was established at the Upper Lake in Bhopal in 2006.

Indian Sailors in the Olympics  Olympic year  Players  Category 
1.  Germany Munich, 1972 Soli Contractor and A.A. Basith 29th in Flying Dutchman Class
2. The United States Los Angeles, 1984 Farokh Tarapore & Dhruv Bhandari 17th in 470 Class
3.  South Korea Seoul, 1988 F. Tarapore & Kelly Rao 17th in 470 Class
4.  Spain Barcelona, 1992 F. Tarapore & Cyrus Cama 23rd in 470 Class
5.  Greece Athens, 2004 Malav Shroff & Sumeet Patel 19th in 49er Class
6. China Beijing, 2008 Nachhatar Singh Johal 23rd in Finn Class
7. Japan Tokyo 2020 Vishnu Saravanan


Nethra Kumanan

  • 17th in Men’s 49er, 
  • 20th in Men’s Laser
  • 35th in Women’s Laser Radial

Some of Best Indian Sailors 

1. Vishnu Saravanan

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2.KC Ganapathy

3.Varun Thakkar

4. Nethra Kumanan

5. Salil Chaturvedi

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How does sailing work?

Sailing involves using sails to catch the wind and generate forward motion. By adjusting the angle of the sails and the direction of the boat, sailors can control their speed and direction.

What types of boats are used in sailing?

There are various types of sailing boats, including dinghies, keelboats, catamarans, and yachts. They vary in size, design, and purpose, ranging from small single-person boats to large ocean-crossing vessels.

Is sailing a physically demanding sport?

Sailing can be physically challenging, particularly when confronted with strong winds or engaged in competitive races. Sailors are required to manipulate sails, manage ropes, and sustain equilibrium. Optimal fitness and strength levels significantly enhance overall performance.

Is sailing expensive?

The expenses associated with sailing exhibit a wide range of diversity. Costs can be relatively modest for smaller dinghies, while they tend to escalate for larger yachts or involvement in competitive competitions. Factors such as maintenance, equipment, and boat storage all play roles in influencing these costs.

What is the America’s Cup?

The America’s Cup is one of the oldest and most prestigious sailing competitions. It involves a match race between two yacht clubs, with teams competing to win the Cup. The Cup’s history dates back to 1851.

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Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra
Greetings, I'm Abhishek Mishra, a passionate sports writer, and football fanatic. Currently, I'm pursuing Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication from GGSIPU, DELHI. I have a keen interest in sports and I aspire to become a sports journalist. I want to work in the overall development of sports and also work towards the grassroots and athlete recognition of our country.


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