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There are few things more exhilarating than being out on the open water and feeling the strike of the sea breeze across your face, but believe it or not, this popular pastime has the potential to be even more exciting. With a seductive mix of beautiful vessels, talented sailors and lively spectators, a regatta is the perfect event for anyone interested in the nautical industry. These events are also networking hubs; they connect sailors from all over and support local businesses. Another added bonus is that they educate the public about the wonders of sailing and in some cases, raise money for ocean conservation efforts.
There’s no better way to immerse yourself in this infectious atmosphere than with a yacht charter, and Click&Boat has got you covered. Whether you want to compete or simply cheer from the crowd, here is our guide to everything you need to know about regattas before taking to the water!
What is a regatta and where did it get its name?
The word “regatta” originates from the Venetians and it means “a match, competition or tournament.” Nowadays we use this word to describe a boat race or a series of boat races, usually involving sailboats but also rowboats and other yachts. They aren’t always professional competitions. In fact, many of them are amateur events, but still luxurious nonetheless! These organised sailing regattas are as much of a sporting event as a social one, and they tend to attract a high-class crowd.
How long is a typical regatta?
Typically, regattas last one or two days over a weekend but depending on the regatta, they can be longer. Usually, regattas last no more than a week.
How many races are in a regatta?
The number of races in a sailing regatta depends on the type of regatta it is. The most common type of sailing regatta revolves around fleet racing. The number of races in this competition is calculated by the number of teams competing multiplied by two divisions, Division A and Division B.
To put it into perspective, if there are 10 teams, each team will split themselves into two groups. The groups will take turns racing against the other teams in their division. Division A teams will race and then Division B will race. They will continue to alternate back and forth until all of the races have been completed which in this case, is 20. The points for each race are awarded by the placement of each team. Therefore, first place is awarded one point, second place two points and so on. In the end, the team with the lowest number of points across divisions wins.
What is the most prestigious regatta in the world?
The most prestigious regatta is America’s Cup, otherwise known as Auld Mug. Not only is it one of the world’s oldest sailing competitions, but it’s also the oldest international competition in any sport. It’s more than just a race, it’s considered to be the peak of sailing mastery of the modern day. This sailing regatta dates back to 1851. It was held by the British Royal Yacht Squadron which hosted a race around the Isle of Wight. The winner of this race was a schooner yacht called ‘America’, which belonged to the New York Yacht Club.
America’s Cup is a match race between two sailing yachts; the defender and the challenger. The defender is the reigning team and holder of the cup. The challenger is any team which meets the requirements and wishes to gain stewardship of the cup. Unlike most regattas, America’s Cup doesn’t have a fixed schedule but tends to occur every three to four years. The last competition was in 2021, and the 37th America’s Cup regatta will be held in 2024, in Barcelona.
Other famous regattas around the globe
Cowes Week is a week-long sailing regatta on the Solent is one of the largest of its kind and has been a staple of British sporting summers since 1826. The competition lasts eight days and sees 40 races per day for over 40 categories of boats. You’ll see all sorts of vessels like traditional wooden boats alongside super modern foiling catamarans. The race also attracts international sailors with diverse sailing backgrounds, ranging from novice sailors to skilled yachtsmen.
Even if you’re not a sailor, there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Not only can you watch the race from the water, but you can also enjoy the shoreside festival on land with parties, music and even fireworks! Participate in the party and charter a yacht in Gosport or Hamble-le-Rice.
The Vendée Globe is a non-Olympic professional regatta located in the Vendée department of western France. It’s the only solo around-the-world yacht race that is non-stop and without assistance, challenging only the bravest of sailors.
It takes place every four years and the course is essentially a circumnavigation route. Starting in Les Sables d’Olonne it passes through the Capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn and then back again. This incredible journey takes between 70 to 80 days at sea and covers a distance of 40,075 kilometres, more than 21,638 nautical miles. It’s no wonder that this regatta has been nicknamed “The Everest of the Seas”!
Similar to the Vendée Globe, Ocean Race is another around-the-world, non-Olympic professional regatta. But instead of being a solo trip, this race is with a team. The aim of this competition is to be the ultimate ocean marathon, pitting the best sailors against each other to navigate the toughest waters on Earth. Competitors must sail 32,000 nautical miles and unlike many regattas, this race scores using a high points system. That means that the winner of each leg will receive a number of points equal to the number of entries in the competition. At the end of all of the legs, the team with the most points wins!
The most recent Ocean Race occurred on the 15th of January in 2023. It started in Alicante, Spain and passed through other iconic cities such as Cape Town, Itajaí and The Hague before finishing in Genoa, Italy.