Matchracing is a contest form of sailing in
which only two boats are competing in a race. Usually a regatta has 8 to 16
participating teams, lining up in a series of races to determine its winner
and the following ranks.
Boats are normally provided by the OA (Organisation Authority). Common matchracing boat types are for example Streamline, Sportina 600, Beneteau 25, J/22, J/24 or J/80 but also bigger yachts like Bavaria 35 Match, DS 37 Matchracer, IMX 40 or Swedish Match 40. An exemption is the America's Cup, the world's most famous matchrace regatta. Teams are competing here with their own designed IACC (International America's Cup Class) boats, thus the America's Cup, similar to the formula one, is also a technological contest.
Usualy matchraces are sailed up-and-down (2-3 rounds) with starboard mark roundings and start- and finishing lines leewards. There are umpires (on water judges) making decisions on right of way protests immediately. A matchrace already begins 5 minutes before the actual starting signal with the warning signal. At this moment the two opponents are positioning themselves in a way, able to enter the so called starting box from their assigned side, at the preparatory signal (4 minutes before starting signal) on time and with good speed, to avoid a tactical disadvantage right from the start.
Now one of the most exciting stages of the race begins. In the last 4 minutes before starting signal, the duelists are facing eachother to fight, accordingly to the right of way rules, for a better starting position. It is not unusual at this early stage that opponents are already trying to force eachother to make a foul, which has to be cleared later in the race by a penalty circle.
The actual races are normally not taking more then 30 minutes, but mostly one gets tactical sailing of its finest, often changes of the lead and tighest sailing manoeuvres - pure excitement.