Sailing games

News & Topics

Sailing games

News & Topics

Sailing games

What are sailing games?

Sailing games are a competition of technique and speed in gliding along the surface of the water, moving using the force generated by the wind flowing over the surface of a sail. Competitors in small sailboats sail around marks placed on the surface of the water in a certain order for a certain number of times to finish the race. Points are awarded based on order of arrival at the finish line, with the teams ranked in order beginning with the lowest total number of points.
Sailing is a sport in which sailors compete with other boats under the constantly-changing conditions of nature. It is important to consider the wind conditions, effect of the current, waves, etc. to determine the yacht settings and get it moving at the highest speed possible. Reaching the finish line means paying attention to the position of other boats, staying on the course, seeing the whole course from a bird's-eye view, and using various strategies and tactics.

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Learn more about sailing games!

These are some promotional videos about sailing made by Kanagawa prefecture.
Even if you have never seen a sailing competition before, the videos will be very interesting and let you feel the intensity of the sport, so please check them out.

Short clip on sailing (15 seconds)

Get a feel for the intensity and liveliness of sailing competitions in this video.

Video explanation of sailing competition rules (about 3.5 minutes)

This video uses CG mixed with live filming to explain the basic rules of sailing competitions in a way you can understand even if you don't know anything about sailing.

Event details

Video introduction to boat types (about 4 minutes)

This video explains the 10 events held at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, along with the features of the boats.

RS:X class; men and women / 1 sailor
A windsurfing event using boats of total length 2.8 m, width 0.93 m, and weight 15.5 kg.
470 class; men and women / 2 sailors
Total length 4.7 m. A two-person yacht event including a skipper operating the rudder and main sail, and a crew member operating the headsail.
Laser class; men only / 1 sailor
A racing yacht with total length 4.23 m and width 1.37 m. This event is spreading widely through the world.
Laser Radial class; women only / 1 sailor
This women's event uses the same boats as Laser class, but the sail area is reduced by about 80%.
49er class; men only / 2 sailors
Uses a yacht of total length 4.99 m and width of 2.90 m. In this event, the skipper and crew each support their body with a trapeze and have to keep their balance while leaning out of the boat.
49erFX class; women only / 2 sailors
This class uses the same boat as the 49er class, with the same mast height, but the sail area is smaller. This is a women's event with two sailors.
Finn class (men only / 1 sailor) mixed / 1 sailor
Event for racing yachts with total length 4.1 m and width 1.50 m. Sailing's oldest event.
Nacra 17 class; mixed / 2 sailors
This event was first done at the sailing competition in the Rio 2016 Games. An event for a catamaran handled by a mixed team of men and women.

Basic rules

Method to determine the winner

All the boats begin from a start point set up downwind, and start in the upwind direction, go around the indicated route, and compete for a rank in the finishing order. Based on a low-point scoring system, the victor is the team with the lowest number of total points from the first race to the last (medal race).

Low point scoring system

This system awards fewer points for higher placement in the competition, so that 1st place = 1 point, 2nd place = 2nd point, 3rd place = 3 points, etc.
The lower the total points scored, the more a team's overall rank will increase.

History of sailing Games

After Charles II of England received a yacht from the Netherlands, improved it to fit the conditions of the waterways, and used it for military purposes and royal functions, yachts became popular among the noble class. The first recorded yacht race in history took place in England in 1661 between Charles II and his brother James, from Greenwich to Gravesend.

Scene from a yacht race (Tokyo 1964 Games)

At the Olympics, it was an official event during the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, but it was cancelled at the time due to bad weather. At the Los Angeles 1984 Games, windsurfing was introduced in addition to yacht competition. In addition, at the Tokyo 1964 Games, the event was called "yachting," but starting at the Sydney Games in 2000, the name was changed to "sailing."

Yacht racers taking a short break (Tokyo 1964 Games)

Japan first participated in Olympic sailing events at the 1936 Games in Berlin. The women's 470 class team consisting of Yumiko Shige and Alicia Kinoshita won the first medal, reaching second place at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and at the Athens 2004 Games, Kazuto Seki and Kenjiro Todoroki won a bronze metal in the men's 470 class.

The Olympic torch relay passes through Fujisawa (Tokyo 1964 Games)

―Enoshima will once again host the final races as it did for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games―

Enoshima Yacht Harbor, the first competitive yacht harbor in Japan, was established for the start of the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. The Olympic pedestal used during the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games still remains at Enoshima. Currently, the All-Japan Championships are held there, and it is beloved by many yacht enthusiasts.

Olympic flame Holder pedestal built at Enoshima Harbor for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games

One famous episode from the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games known as the "Gold Medal for Humanity" was when the Käll brothers of Sweden, favorites to win a medal, instead turned back to rescue fellow sailors whose boat had capsized in the rough sea due to strong wind. What memorable stories will arise at Enoshima during the 2020 Games...?

Running towards the Olympic flame pedestal at the yacht harbor (Tokyo 1964 Games)

Photos provided by: Fujisawa Digital Archives


This pamphlet contains a guide to sailing competitions. The PDF version of this pamphlet can be downloaded by clicking the links below.