If you’re not a sailor, there’s probably a whole bunch of sailing jargon that’s confused you to no end. Of these terms, we’re pretty certain a good number of them refer to the different types of boats our sailors race with. After all, ‘470’ sounds more like an answer to math homework than a boat sailed at the Olympics.


So now that you’ve figured out how regattas work (if you haven’t, it’s not too late for a quick recap here), you’re ready for the second installment of our Sailing 101 Series.

Part Two will introduce you to the different types of boats that will be sailed at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.


Here we go!


Hold up, how about a short explanation on how all these Sailing events and types of boats come together?

Sure! Just like any other sport, Sailing at any major games (e.g. Olympics, Asian Games, SEA Games) consists of a number of events. For instance, the 2018 Asian Games will feature a total of 10 events.


Usually, the organising committee will target to have sailors in all events sail the same number of races, though each event may have their races spread over different days.


The host country and relevant international sailing body (e.g. Asian Sailing Federation) will decide on the type of boats featured and whether the respective events will be competed in by women, men or both. They may also decide on a specific age restriction for an event.


In most cases, each participating country can only field one individual or team for each event, so internal selection trials are conducted to pick out the best sailors.

Woah, that sounds intense. So what are the different types of boats?

Alright, before we get there, we’ll introduce you to the different categories of boats that will make an appearance at the 2018 Asian Games. There are three main categories: windsurfing, single-handed and double-handed.

Here’s where it gets a little confusing. So far, we’ve been referring to everything as ‘boats’. However, in the windsurfing category, sails are fixed onto raceboards instead of boats. Just have a look at the picture below.


The single-handed category refers to boats that are sailed by only one sailor, while the double-handed category refers to boats sailed by two sailors. You can think of them as individual and team events.

Laser Radial Simone Chen
The Laser Radial is an example of a single-handed boat.
The 470 is an example of a double-handed boat.

Alright, think it’s time you started the introduction…

Indeed! We’ll start introducing these boats according to the three categories we just mentioned. 


In windsurfing, a raceboard is powered by the wind on the sail. The sail is attached to the board by a free-rotating joint, which means that the angle of the sail can be constantly adjusted by the sailor.


There are two kinds of windsurfs that will feature at the 2018 edition:


Raceboard Length: 2.86 m

Mast Height: 5.2 m (Men), 4.9 m (Women)

Sail Area: 9.5 m2 (Men), 8.5 m2 (Women)


While both men and women compete with the same raceboard, the women use a sail that is one square metre smaller. A bigger sail and longer mast means that there is more power on the sail.


Raceboard Length: 3 m

Mast Height: 4.6m

Sail Area: 7.8 m2


The RS:One is perhaps windsurfing’s answer to the fight for gender equality – both men and women race with the same equipment. Everyone can race together on the same starting line regardless of gender, which will be the case at the 2018 Asian Games.

There is an age restriction on the RS:One event though, so each country will field one Under-22 male and female representative. Their combined positions will then contribute to their country’s ranking in the event.


The Laser is the single-handed boat of choice at the Games. Three variations of the Laser – the Laser Standard, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 – will be featured in three separate events. These three variations use the same boat but have different sail areas.

Laser Standard

Boat Length: 4.23 m

Mast Length: 6.16 m

Sail Area: 7.06 m2

Sailor’s Weight Range: >60 kg

Laser Standard

Laser Radial

Boat Length: 4.23 m

Mast Length: 5.56 m

Sail Area: 5.76 m2

Sailor’s Weight Range: 55-70 kg

Single-handed Laser boats

Laser 4.7

Boat Length: 4.23 m

Mast Length: 5.12 m

Sail Area: 4.7 m2  (which explains its name)

Sailor’s Weight Range: 35-55 kg

Laser 4.7

The Laser Standard event will be competed in by the men, while the Laser Radial event will be a women’s event. The Laser 4.7 is sailed by youth sailors under the age of 18. However, there is a further age restriction on the Laser 4.7 event at the Games. Hence each country is only allowed to send one sailor of each gender who is aged 16 or 17.


Among all the boats sailed at the Asian Games, only the RS:One and Laser 4.7 will not feature at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as they are considered to be youth classes.  


In a double-handed boat, one sailor is in charge of steering the boat, while the other is responsible for most of the sail control, though both are involved in making tactical decisions.


At the 2018 Asian Games, sailors will compete in three kinds of double-handed boats – the 470, 49er and 49erFX. This is the first Asian Games to incorporate the 49er and 49erFX.


All three make use of three sails which are called the mainsail (the bigger sail), headsail (the smaller sail closer to the front) and spinnaker (the colourful kite-like sail). Both the mainsail and jib are used throughout a race, but the spinnaker is only deployed when the boat is sailing a downwind to catch more wind.

That being said, you will notice that the 470 looks very different from the 49er and 49erFX. The 470 looks more like a boat, while the 49er and 49erFX barely do. Instead, they have wings on either side and a flat bottom. Sailors stand on the wings of a 49er or 49erFX, unlike on the 470, where they balance on the edge of the boat.


The 49er and 49erFX are very similar boats, except for the fact that the 49erFX has a smaller sail area, which caters to the lighter combined weight of a female crew.


You may also notice that some of the sailors are hanging by a wire. This is called trapezing (no, they’re not part of the circus) and gives sailors more leverage when balancing the boat.


Boat Length: 4.70 m (which explains its name)

Mast Height: 6.76 m

Sail Area: 16.1 m2  (Mainsail), 5.1 m2 (Headsail), 37.16 m2 (Spinnaker)

Sailor’s Combined Weight Range: 110-145 kg



Boat Length: 4.995 m

Mast Length: 8.4 m

Sail Area: 16.1 m2  (Mainsail), 5.1 m2 (Jib), 38 m2 (Spinnaker)

Sailor’s Combined Weight Range: 145-180 kg



Boat Length: 4.99 m

Mast Length: 7.5 m

Sail Area: 13.8 m2  (Mainsail), 5.8 m2 (Jib), 25.1 m2 (Spinnaker)

Sailor’s Combined Weight Range: 120-145 kg


There will be two events – one for the men and another for the women –  for the 470 boat. The 49er and 49erFX will be a men’s and women’s event respectively.

Woah, that was pretty mind-blowing…

But since you’re made it this far, you’re now well-equipped with everything you needed to follow the progress of our Singapore Sailing Team sailors at the 2018 Asian Games.


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In case you missed it

Part One: Sailing 101: How Regattas Work