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Please Stop using Heats when you mean Races

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team on 4 Jan 2014
13’ Skiffs National Championship, Manly, Brisbane Michael Chittenden ©
In sport whether its athletics, rowing or surfing, elimination series are run with heats, quarter finals, semis and finals.

So when non sailors read about heats in sailing, they reasonably expect they are part of an elimination series. But in sailing that is not the case … some classes and sailors use the word Heat when they mean Race.


Does it matter? Yes it does.

Wearing our Event PR hats, we often spend a lot of time on water trying to put sailing into simple terms, for mainstream media, even Sports Editors, preparing to do a live cross for Television or Radio.

They are constantly fearful; they say 'it’s so hard to understand sailing and I don’t want to get it wrong.'

There is enough confusion without adding more.

Well known International Race Officer Peter Moor is the founding chairman of an organisation call SATUH – Sailors Against Use of Heats.

Both he and another highly regarded Race Officer Denis Thompson, will almost chant in unison 'there is no reference to the term Heats in ISAF’s Racing Rules of Sailing.’

Using Heats when you mean Races is an old habit, still residual it seems in skiff classes for example.

Skiffies understand that terminology, but outsiders don't. Now days skiff sailors are on boats quite radically different to those of a century ago, so as the boats have developed the terminology must also.

The ISAF position is that we need to simplify sailing so it’s easier for people to understand.

The use of Heats instead of Races in a non elimination context is confusing.

Please don’t do it ….

If you have a differing opinion let's hear it.

But while you are formulating your argument consider that some European languages use the word regatta interchangeably between a race and a regatta.

So in the English translations that some ESL event media distribute -Sailors can win three regattas in a seven regatta series but still lose the regatta.

So now you be confused too?

So we change the relevant words to race ... in the interests of clarity.

Just like not using Heat when you mean Race ... is that fair enough??

We are working hard to spread the joy of sailing across the world, as the largest sailing news network in the world our stories can be read in 78 languages.

We have a 1244 sailing technical words and phrases translated into 15 languages, so far, to enhance the reader experience, can you imagine what difficulties Heats and Races causes?
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