Misc Sailboat Games and Races

Dead Fish Water Polo

A sponge is floating in the water (that is the dead fish). People sail up to it and grab it out of the water, then throw it at other boats. If the sponge hits the other boat, then that boat is out. The last survivor wins. If the sponge is accidentally dropped in their own boat, they are NOT out. Also, after being hit, the victim must immediately throw the sponge, but if it hits anyone, it does not make them out.

King Of The Hill

Everyone starts out sailing around a designated area for 3 minutes to spread out. Then everyone tries to tag each other with either a squirt gun or wet sponge. If 2 boats tag each other, the one that tagged the other first wins the "battle" and is still "in". If you get tagged, you are "out" and have to sail over to the dock or "out" area. The last one sailing wins. Possible scoring: 1 point for winner, 2 points for 2nd place, 3 points for everyone else. Possible alteration: Can only use sponges to tag each other, and each boat is given one sponge only. If you are tagged and out, you have to give your sponge to a surviving boat.


Bouys are setup to designate an area. The chaser (identified by flying a flag on his boat, or holds up a sponge waving it) has to sail up and tag another boat by hitting them with a sponge. When hit, the victim has to do 3 turns in place to give time for the attacker to escape, then the victim must fly a flag to show he is the chaser and then the game goes on.

Freeze Tag

When another boat is tagged, they have to go into the safety position (beam on, sails flapping) until another boat comes along and tags them to free them.

Capture The Flag

Split fleet into 2 teams. Each team has a bouy in their home area to identify that as their home, and a flag bouy that the other team is going to try and capture. The first team to capture the other team's bouy and bring it back to their home area wins. If hit by an opponent with a sponge, you have to sail back to your home area before returning to the game. If you have an enemy bouy, you have to drop it right there. You are not allowed to pickup your own bouy, you have to defend it where it fell. ** Make sure everyone knows right of way rules, do not make contact between the boats.


The fleet is divided into 2 teams, and each team has a bouy cross wind from each other. Each boat flies a flag showing which team they are affiliated with. The object of the game is to sail across to the other side and touch the other team's bouy - sort of like capture the flag, but you don't have to take the bouy back, just touch it. If someone hits you with a waterballoon, you are "out" and have to take down your flag, and sail to a penalty area.

Make A Regular Buoy Course More Fun

Take a regular "round the buoy" course and make it more fun with items like:
- every buoy has to be rounded twice
- have to sail backwards over finish
- do 360 or 720 on each leg
- sail a leg with no rudder
- sail downwind backwards
- knock boat down at buoy, swim out and touch mast head, swim back and continue


Split the fleet into 2 teams. Have 3 buoys in a V shape, with 2 upwind and 1 down wind. Each upwind buoy is a basket. The object is to carry the ball up to your buoy and throw it onto the buoy like you were making a basket. If the opposing team tags you with a sponge or squirt gun, you have to immediately drop the ball right there. If you think you are going to be tagged, you can throw the ball to another team member. If you get the ball away from the other team, you (and everyone else) have to sail back down below the leeward buoy, then can start sailing back upwind to your buoy.

Tack and Pass

Sort of like basketball, same type of buoy setup with 2 teams. The object is to sail upwind to put ball in the goal - but you can't have ball in the boat when tacking, so have to try and pass the ball to another team mate who has made a tack. There are buoys to define the outside perimeter, so you can't go on one long tack and be gone forever. If you get the ball from the other team, you have to go back down across the leeward buoy before continuing on to your basket.


The fleet is divided into 2 teams. Each has a pair of buoys across wind from each other. A ball is placed between them. The object of the game is to hit the ball with a paddle as you sail near it, and get the ball into the opponent goal. Can only hit the ball with a paddle, and if you cause a collision you have to sail a penalty turn or something.


2 boats sail on a reach towards each other, each has 6 tennis balls of a certain color (like one boat has all yellow, and the other boat has all white). When the boats cross each other, they try to toss the tennis balls into the other's cockpit. If the ball bounces out, or is deflected, it doesn't count. If the ball lands in the cockpit and stays there, the throwing boat gets a point. After each boat has thrown all of their balls, everyone stops and adds up the points.

Rudderless Race

Sail around a regular course without your rudder. You could try and do it by pivoting your leeboard, or you could use a canoe paddle for steering.

Buddy Race

Multiple boats around a typical course, but each boat has to have a "buddy". The buddy boats have to hold a piece of rope between them (by hand, not cleated) and sail together that way. If the rope is dropped, they have to take a penalty turn and then rejoin the rope between the boats before continuing the course.


2 buoys are places cross wind from each other. The object is to guess how many times you can sail around them in 5 minutes. Each person in the fleet makes a guess for themselves, the fleet captain writes down all the guesses (either secretly turned in, or publicly announced), then everyone sails around them at the same time for 5 minutes. The interesting part is the scoring, if you sail exactly the number of times around that you thought, you get double. If you sail more than you guessed, you only get the number that you guessed. And if you sail less than you guessed, you only get 1 point for every time you made it around. Example: If you guessed 7, and sailed around 5 times, you get 5 points. If you sailed around the buoys 7 times, you get 14. But if you sailed around 8 times, then you only get 7. It is perfectly OK to luff up and not make extra laps, but people learn quickly to guess as many laps as they can, and go for it.

Musical Moorings

Several buoys in straight line. Everyone sails around the buoys while music is playing, or for a certain time period. When music stops, you have to grab mooring and person who doesn't grab one, looses point. Do several times to acumulate points over the fleet.

Kite Flying Race

Run a regular course with the exception that each crew has to fly a kite the whole time.

Blind Skipper

The skipper wears a blind fold, the crew talks them thru how to sail & steer.

Relay Race

Boats are paired up, and one person sails around a leg of the buoys, and at the end of a lap has to pass a baton (or other token) to their partner, which then can start the next lap.

Team Relay Race

The fleet is divided into 2 teams. Each team sends one boat at a time around the buoys. The first team to get all of their boats around the buoys wins. OR, you can just use 2 boats, and the crew of each boat gets changed out at the end of each lap.

Baton Race

Different than a relay race - have 2 teams or multiple partner boats. Everyone sails around the course at the same time, but at the end of the laps, the baton has to be passed to the next boat before starting the next lap.

Frisbee Relay

Sort of like a Baton race - have multiple teams of 2 boats. Everyone races around a regular buoy race course, and one member of each team is carrying a frisbee. Every 5 minutes, the committee boat blows a whistle, and whoever has the frisbee has to immediately throw it to their teammate boat. They then have to carry it for 5 minutes and throw it back at the next whistle.

Tag Team

Different than a relay race - boats are paired up, and when the race starts, everyone races a lap (or to a mark), at which point the teams must switch boats to continue the next lap. The team can't continue until they have swapped boats.

Row / Sail Combo

Similar to the conventional buoy racing, with the exception that you are allowed to row or paddle at any time.


Have a string of buoys close enough that tacking/gybing through them left and right is a boat-handling challenge. Strong wind adds to the fun. Can either do one at a time like time trials, or can run 2 lanes at the same time. Tack uphill first, then cross at the top and head back down.


Team consists of 3 people and two boats, need atleast 2 teams. Sail out to buoy, then one team member jumps in the water and swims to the other boat. Then next team member has to swim to the other boat, finally 3rd team member has to swim to the other boat. Then team can sail back to start line.

Poker Run

A series of buoys are setup along the shore or out in the water. Each point has a stack of envelopes, each contains a single card. The fleet sails around the course, stopping at each point and picks out a single envelope. When they get to the destination, everyone opens their envelopes to show their cards, and the best poker hand wins.

Scavenger Hunt

Search to find things, such as 3 different kinds of seaweed, drift wood, piece line, plastic bottle, certain type of leaf, lat and long of a dock, pink toilet paper etc. The items depend on the area you are in.

UFO Rescue Mission

A UFO has crashed at night, and all the little aliens are floating around. The aliens are glow sticks that are in clear plastic bottles. The one who picks up the most aliens wins. Can do in the daylight with tennis balls, easter eggs, blocks of foam or plywood etc. You can also put point values on each alien, so when all have been rescued, figure out who has the most points.

Catch a tail

Tie a plastic streamer to end of boom so hangs over the stern OR drag the streamer in the water, tied from the transom - the streamer should be something easy to break off, like surveyors marking tape. The object is to steal the streamer from as many other boats as you can in a certain time limit. You are not allowed to handle your own streamer, sail or boom with your hands - you can only tack and use the sheets. You get 1 point for every tail you get, and 3 points for keeping your own tail.

Paddle Obstacle Course

Use the boat without a sail, just a daggerboard, rudder / tiller. One crew member uses a canoe paddle and the other is on the tiller. The boat is navigated thru an obstacle course, either one boat per turn in time trials, or as a race.

Grab The Shark

An inflatable shark is anchored in the middle of the water. The sailor has to sail up and touch it's tail without touching any other parts of the shark. If you touch another part of the shark, you are out. After everyone has touched the shark's tail, then do something more complicated like touch it's tail and then teeth. Keep getting more complicated till all but one are out.

Boat Recovery

All the boats are divided into teams of 2. Everyone sails out to a buoy together, then one boat is towed back by the other. Then both boats sail back out to the buoy, and the other boat is towed back. Fastest team to complete the course wins. OR - have a single boat set adrift from a certain location (possibly with a volunteer in it), then individual boats are timed as they sail out from the dock, tie up to the boat adrift and bring it back.

Tip Top Race

Boats are raced on a regular buoy course, but at some point the boats must be knocked over in the water, and one of the crew has to swim out and touch the top of the mast, then swim back, recover the boat and continue sailing.

Tribble Race

Use only 2 boats of identical type. Start off with 2 teams, each team sends 1 person out around a buoy and back to the dock. When returning to the dock, 1 additional person is added to the boat and goes out again for another lap. Continue till one of the teams capsize, or completes the final lap with all of their team members in the boat.

SDDP - Same Day, Different Place

This is a way to compete with people who do not live near you. Create a set of rules that both of you will use, and then on the same day, every participant does that race by themselves and then reports back what their results were. Such as sail a 5 mile course, and see who can do it the fastest.

Schooner Racing

Tie the stern of one boat to the bow of the other, and have them sail around together as if they were a single boat which sort of resembles a Schooner. Have multiple schooners do some type of racing.

Improvised Sail

Everyone gets the same rectangular sized polytarp, and a short period of time to modify it into a sail. Then run some races with that sail

Shower Curtain Challenge

Same as Improvised Sail, only that every one uses a commercially available shower curtain with a defined maximum size. With all of the very interesting patterns of shower curtain prints, it should be a very colorful race.


This is a treasure hunting sport, not really a race. The concept is that people hide small containers with a few trinkets in them plus a log book. Then the coordinates are published at Geocaching.com and others can then go find the containers. When found, you take one trinket out, put another one in (that you brought), then sign the log book. Lots of fun, and there are many geocache locations you can sail to in your pdracer.