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A Beginner’s Guide to Sailing Betting

Sailing is a hugely popular sport and it has a surprisingly large following amongst bettors. This is because the sport presents many excellent opportunities for placing bets and winning. If you have never set foot near a boat, then you may find the prospect a bit daunting. However, it won’t take you long to understand exactly how it works. In this guide, you will find all that you need to know including an explanation of the sport and its betting markets together with some tips on how to best research your bets.

Sailing Basics

As you probably realise, sailing is a sport in which participants compete against each other on various types of boats that are propelled by the power of the wind. Most often, they compete on yachts. There are boats sailed by individuals, pairs and teams, and there are specialised speed and distance competitions.

Most yachting competitions involve racing around a chosen course or point-to-point racing. There are inshore and offshore races, ocean races, and even around-the-world races. There is not much more you need to know in order to follow sailing. The more you watch, the better your understanding will become, and you gain a sense for how the different boats and teams operate, and how the weather conditions affect the races.

There are a number of major sailing competitions each year. One of the biggest is the America’s Cup, which is a championship match race between two sailing yachts. Before the race, there must be an agreement between the holder of the Cup, the “defender” and the yacht club challenging them. It is considered one of the most prestigious boat races in the world and it is the oldest international sporting trophy in existence. The competitors often attract the top ship makers and sailors, as well as a great deal of sponsorship money.

Another highlight of the calendar is the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. It is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and is considered one of the most challenging sailing races in the world. The race takes roughly a day and a half, and the fastest ever finish was one day, nine hours and 15 minutes. Each year more and more contestants take part, normally well over 100. However, they are handicapped by length, weight, shape, and sail dimensions of the vessels. However, the crews still compete for “line honours”, which go to the first boat to finish the race. It is almost always the biggest and newest yacht.

There are many additional important sailing competitions. For example, sailing is a firm fixture at the Olympic Games and it includes a variety of disciplines, such as one person dingy, two person dingy, skiff, and mixed multihull. The Olympics are every four years, but in the UK there is a regular Cowes Week competition, which sees at least 8,500 yachtsmen compete on more than 1000 vessels. There is also Keil Week in Germany, which attracts similar numbers, there is the Barcolana, the IRC/ORC World Championships, and many more.

In other words, there are more than enough opportunities to bet on sailing, so it is well worth investing some time in studying the sport and its betting markets.

Betting on Sailing

As mentioned, sailing is popular with gamblers as it presents many betting opportunities. As such, you will find a large range of betting markets available for each race or event. The betting markets are not hard to understand, and here you can find a brief explanation of the most popular types of bets.


The winner bet is always going to be the simplest to understand. It is simply a bet on which sailor or crew will win the race. However, in sailing there are a few different types of winner bets that you should be aware of, especially when it comes to the long races that take place over months. In these races, you will also find winner bets on specific legs rather than the race as a whole, must like stage betting in the Tour de France, and these bets can present some exciting opportunities.

Head to Head Bet

In this market, two boats will be paired up. You simply need to choose which one you think will do better. It doesn’t matter where your chosen boat finishes in the race, as long as it is ahead of the one that it has been paired with.


This is an excellent bet to use if you think a race will be very close. You are just betting on a boat or a team to finish in the top three positions. You do not have to specify which position, so it is a fantastic bet if you can’t pick between two or three participants.

Bet on 3

This is similar to the placing bet, but in this case, you need to pick which three boats will finish in the top three. Once again, you do not need to select the exact order, so there is a great deal of flexibility built into the bet.

Handicap Betting

The idea of handicaps is to reduce the advantages that one team may have and give punters an incentive to bet on the underdogs. In the case of sailing, the handicap is usually applied to the time taken to finish the race. For example, it may put Boat A against Boat B and the market may be something like Boat A -30 seconds, Boat B +30 seconds. In this instance, if you were to bet on Boat A to win, then you would win the bet they were still the winner once 30 seconds have been subtracted from their time. If you were to bet on Boat B, then you would win the bet if they were the winner after 30 seconds were added to their time.


Over/Under betting markets can present fantastic opportunities. As the name suggests, they require you to bet on something being above or below a given value. In the case of sailing, this will most often be on the time taken to complete a race or a leg. If you think that the boat will finish slower than the given time then you bet Over, if you think the boat will finish faster then you bet Under.

Outright Bets

Before the start of a major race or event, you may find a number of outright bets available. The most basic of these is picking the winner. However, you may find more and they can be a lot of fun. For instance, ahead of the Olympic Games you can often bet on which countries will win medals or what the medal tally will be for each country. It is always worth looking at these bets to see what is available.

Prop Bets

There are often a great range of prop bets available for sailing races. They are often hugely variant and may include:

  • Which team will round a certain point first
  • Which team will have the highest average speed
  • What the margin of victory will be
  • Will a boat sink

Live Betting

Live betting, also known as in-play betting, gives you the opportunity to bet on sailing events as they happen. You will find the same markets as described above, but the odds will be adjusted in real time to reflect what is happening. Furthermore, you may also find special ‘Next To’ markets, which allow you to bet on the next thing that is going to happen. It means that you may be able to spot some great opportunities if you think there is going to be a surprise or upset.

What to Consider When Betting on Sailing

When it comes to betting on professional sports, no matter what the sport is, the key is to do as much research as possible before hand. While there will never be a guarantee that you will win your bet, it will greatly improve your chances.

Sailing is a multifaceted sport, which means that there is a huge amount that you can take into account. It may be best to begin with the boat. While boats change regularly, they are at least fixed. You can look into how that model of boat has performed in the past or if it is a completely new boat, you can try to research its maker and what they are trying to achieve.

In regards to the actual sailors, a lot will depend on the event. You can always look at past form, but if it is a solo event then you can look at if the sailor has been ill or injured recently, if they have travelled a long way so may be tired, and so on. If it is a crew event, you can look at the crew’s history, see if any changes have been made at the last minute and so on.

Another major factor is the weather conditions. You may be able to find information about how crews/sailors have performed in similar conditions in the past.

The best thing to do is to try to follow the sport as closely as you can. This way you will build up a great deal of knowledge without really trying, and hopefully, this will help you place numerous winning bets.

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