All you need to know about regattas
What is a regatta?
A regatta is a sailing competition or race. Once an elite and expensive sport, it is now available to many, without gender, age, and other restrictions. For the majority of Europeans, regattas in the Mediterranean are the most accessible. During the yachting season from April to November, there are a lot of them, and in some places, for example, in Cyprus, races are held even in winter.
To participate in the regatta, it is not at all necessary to be a professional at the Olympic Games level; you can come to sailing from scratch and at any age.
The goals of the organizers and participants of the regattas are very different. Firstly, it helps to promote yachting as a sport or hobby in general or in a specific region. Secondly, such races support yachting traditions and help to pass on the experience. Another goal is to increase the recognition of brands that sponsor many regattas (for example, brands such as Rolex, Rixos, Volvo, Heineken sponsor many prestigious races). Of course, the search for profit is not in the last place. Often, famous people are invited to participate in regattas to increase the prestige of the competition.
Why sailors participate in regattas
There is no definite answer, of course. But many will agree that they want to satisfy their sporting ambitions. If you are a betting person, then the regatta is just for you because, in the race, emotions run high every time. For many, this is a lifestyle, and there are those who earn money at regattas and those who spend it, sometimes quite a lot. The important point is that regatta is an excellent way to develop yachting skills in a competitive environment. For many, the social aspect is essential — meetings, new acquaintances, fellowship with like-minded people, the exchange of experience.
How much does participation in the regatta cost?
Participation in a one-day club regatta can cost from € 50, and a fee to get into a professional team in a prestigious regatta can reach several thousand euros. On average, you will have to pay about € 1000 for participating in a one-week amateur race.
Regattas are classified according to several parameters. Here are the main ones.
By level of difficulty
In terms of difficulty, regattas are divided into regattas for professionals and amateurs. Professional regattas can be different, up to the Olympic Games, as well as club, inter-club, regional and international regattas. Amateur regattas are organized to popularize yachting, with a commercial purpose, and even as a tribute to tradition. Such races, in turn, are very different. In some places, sport is the main component, somewhere else, evening entertainment and fellowship are more important, yet in others, balance is well maintained. There are many options for amateur regattas; you can always choose the most attractive format for you.
By type of yachts
— For monotypes (mono fleet). Yachts that have the same size and are built according to specific identical rules can participate. For cruisers, this is a particular model; for sports yachts, it is a particular class, for example, IMOCA or J70.
— For free classes of yachts. This is the most common format of amateur regattas. In this case, the participants are divided into divisions and /or the results are calculated by a special coefficient (handicap).
— For exotic and extreme yachts. For example, the race of traditional yole boats in Martinique.
By type of distance
— Loops and triangles
This is a classic of sailing. They, as a rule, are short — only a few miles. As a start and finish, buoys and a referee ship are used. Loop and triangle racing is one of the best ways to test the coordinated work of the crew.
— Route races
Route races take place from one point to another. The distances are different: they can take several hours, or maybe a whole week. The length of the route race can be tens, hundreds, or even thousands of miles. As a rule, cruising yachts are involved in route racing. Sometimes, to complicate the distance, the route race includes loop and triangle races, islands and lighthouses, which the yachts must go around. The race can take place day and night, regardless of the weather, often takes place in non-stop format, that is, without stopping for several days, or even months in the case of a round-the-world race.
By the length of the route and distance from the coast
Competitions are held within sight of land. Distances are up to 20-25 nautical miles (1 mile — 1.85 km). As a rule, the place of start and finish coincides.
Racing on the high seas with a length of 150 to 1000 miles. Here, sailors must demonstrate not only yachting skills but also endurance.
Such regattas include those that go through the ocean or most of it. The route must be at least 800 miles long.
— Around the world
Not every skipper and not every yacht can be admitted to a round-the-world regatta; specific requirements must be met. And not all teams reach the finish line and withdraw from the race. But even just participation is prestigious. The length of such a race is more than 20,000 miles. The most prestigious round-the-world regatta, which because of its strict rules and complexity, is called the «Everest of sailing,» is Vendee Globe.
Regattas can be local and club ones, regional (city and country), and non-restricted sailing area — up to round-the-world.
What is a handicap?
Handicap is a special coefficient, the purpose of which is to equalize the chances of yachts of different models in the race. The purpose of the system is to ensure that the chances of winning depend only on the level of preparation of the team, and not on the speed characteristics of its yacht. Handicap takes into account the speed potential of yachts. A measurement system is used to find the ratio depending on the area of the sails, the shape and size of the yachts. The winner of the race is determined by the minimum corrected time.
There are several handicap systems; new ones are constantly appearing, and, unfortunately, there is no single system in the sailing world yet. However, when applying for participation in a particular regatta, you need to understand that you accept the rules for calculating the handicap that the competition organizers offer, so you should familiarize yourself with them in advance.
In sailing, as in other types of competitions, there are principles that all participants must adhere to. First of all, this is the principle of fair sportsmanship. In addition, uniform rules of conduct for all participants are also established.
Now that you know more about sailing and their principles, it is time to head to your first regatta!