What is Team Racing?

Team Racing is a popular form of dinghy or yacht racing where only two teams compete against each other in a race. A team consists of 2,3 or 4 matched boats from the same class, often identified by sail & boat colours and numbers alternatively the helmsman may be wearing coloured bibs. Using the low points scoring system, a combination of a team’s results decides the winner. i.e. 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 points and so on. The team with the least points wins.

Boats often used for team racing include the 420, Firefly, TR3.6, RS Feva and Topaz, however any matched boats can be used. Keelboats that are often used include Sonar, Squib, J24 & J80.   

The most commonly used boats are Firefly’s which are ideal as there are no high-performance features (i.e spinnaker & trapeze). Firefly’s have good rocker, are very manoeuvrable, and have good acceleration. It’s also suitable for women and children to sail.

Typically a Flight of boats = 6 Boats i.e. 3 boats per team. With 2 sailors in each boat, there is a total of 12 sailors afloat in each flight. Competitions may have multiple flights.

Why Team Racing?

Why Team Racing? Why Team Racing?

Team Racing is an ideal way to retain youth sailors after they leave the structured environs of youth classes or Irish Sailing programmes. Team Racing is very sociable as whilst there are a lot of races against different teams, there are also times where team members will be waiting on their next race in change over boats, pontoons or ashore. This allows teams to mix, chat and socialize. It also adds the dimension of practicing and racing as part of a team. The more you practice and work together, the more successful you become.

Each race lasts around 10 minutes and multiple races can be run at the same time using the same course. With around 8 hours of racing in a day and a well organized race team, It is possible to run up to 96 races in one day using a Round Robin format. (8hrs x 3 per flight x 4 flights per hour = 96)!

Whilst on the whole, the rules are the same, there are a few adaptations for Team Racing. Most Rule books have an appendix on the Team Racing Rules.  E.g. boats infringing the rules can take a voluntary penalty spin. However if they are spotted by an umpire and do not take a spin, the umpire can enforce a two spin penalty. Another key rule is that the ‘zone’ is changed to two hull lengths.

As Team Racing uses Umpires, it reduces the ability for people to shout and scare opponents. This is often frowned upon, so reduces attempted Male dominance. It also has lest reliance on physical strength, with more reliance on strategy, communication, rules knowledge and tactics making it a much more attractive sport to females. Umpiring speeds up the process of protests allowing for immediate on water decisions, which in turn ensures that results are quickly updated.

Team Racing focuses on Starts, manoeuvres, tactics, boat handling and rules knowledge, which makes it ideal training for fleet racing medal races. It is ideal to be included as part of youth sailor development. Often you will find that the top fleet racers also compete in major team racing events.

The Course

The Course The Course

Courses are short and use up to 6 marks with a start boat and board displaying the race number. Competitions with multiple flights often use rolling starts in intervals of three minutes to get more races through in a tight time frame.  For Premature starters, boat numbers are hailed as OCS’d and must return to correct side of the line. Umpires marshall the racing and the rules using a whistle and flags to notify boats of penalties. Umpires decisions are final.

Races generally last around 10 minutes  using continuous starting and are raced over a digital ‘S’ course offering a Start, Beat, Reach, Run, Reach, Beat, Finish. It’s best to run the races in no current.

Official's Duties

Official's Duties Official's Duties

While these are the individual roles required for a large event, for training purposes they are often combined.

Race Officer - Unlike fleet racing, team racing is usually organised as close to shore as possible to make changeovers quicker and easier. This makes it a great spectator sport. It also involves shorter courses with fewer boats and often the race officer will be shore based.

Duties of a race officer include controlling the schedule of races, ensuring results are up to date, processing protests as the event progresses and overseeing tie breaks.

Starter – Controls committee boat, start sequence and boat recalls /ocs.

Course Manager – sets and maintains course due to wind shifts

Umpires - Umpires follow boats on the water and may award penalties to anyone that breaks the rules. If you do break a rule, you can take a voluntary 360 degree penalty turn as soon an possible after the incident. However failure to take a spin, may result in an appeal from your opponent using a protest flag. Umpires may then enforce two penalty turns. Umpires carry 3 flags. Green means sail on, Red enforces 720 degree penalty turns and a black flag means that the umpire has seen something which may result in further action ashore.

Changeover Boat Drivers – Only required if the boats cannot sail back to pontoons.

Team racing, race officers & officials should study appendix D – Team Racing Rules.

Get Involved in Team Racing

Team Racing is a fantastic aspect of our sport which Irish Sailing is hoping will help us to Attract new participants, Retain new members and Convert existing members to the joys of sailing. Irish Sailing is working tirelessly to make Team Racing accessible to all who would like to partake. If you are interested in getting involved in any aspect of Team Racing and are seeking guidance, please contact Irish Sailing Racing Manager, Stephen O'Shaughnessy - stephen.oshaughnessy@sailing.ie 

Through BIM Flag Funding and Sports Capital Grants, Irish Sailing have invested in three fleets of Fireflies. One fleet is currently located in the south region of the country in the Royal Cork Yacht Club, while we have also have a fleet located in Galway City Sailing Club in the West and Malahide Yacht Club in the East. The plan will be to move the boats around to different "base" clubs every couple of seasons within each respective region. We hope that having fleets stationed in each part of the country will ensure easier access to Team Racing for clubs.

School Team Racing

Schools Team Racing has always been a popular event amongst students, and we are keen to grow and develop Schools Team Racing around the country. Schools Team Racing events take place at a regional and national level during the academic school year.

If your school is interested in getting together a team for coaching opportunities pre-event, you will find some participating clubs and their contact details below. If you are a club and would like to participate in terms of providing coaching sessions to schools or if you are a school and cannot find a club for coaching sessions, please contact Stephen - stephen.oshaughnessy@sailing.ie to be guided on what to do next.


Organisations & Events

EVENTS CALENDAR - HERE - search the word "team" to find all registered Team Racing events

Other – Classes, clubs and organisations often organize their own competitions. Some clubs have partnered with other yacht clubs throughout the world to organize rotational & biennial events where each club takes a turn in hosting.

  • Triangular Bowl 
  • Cannon Bowl
  • Millenium Cup – Triangular – Royal St George, Royal Thames, Royal Northern & Clyde
  • IDA Lewis – Kinsale
  • Dragons – Royal Ulster Yacht Club
  • Glens – SLYC & Dublin Bay
  • Inter Club - Marconi Cup

Match Racing

Match Racing Match Racing

Find out more about Match Racing by visiting the Match Racing Association 


Stephen O'Shaughnessy 


Email: stephen.oshaughnessy@sailing.ie