Slalom racing is raced on a short course and typically sailed in groups of up to 8 competitors in a double elimination series. Each race is typically 3 to 5 minutes in duration. Pumping is allowed on all legs of the slalom course, so races tend to be fast and furious with plenty of thrills and spills.  Slalom courses are set close to shore so they are lots of fun for competitors and spectators alike.  To excel at slalom a sailor needs good aerobic fitness, stamina and excellent board handling skills.

The course is typically a “P” followed by a “M”. The bottom mark of the “P” may also be a gate  (i.e. boat and mark) with the option to round either. The race is completed with a reach to the finishing line.



Race Tip: Try to carry out only a single intermediate tack on the work legs.

Slalom Races at Championship level are started with a ‘scratch’ Start, but at Club level you may also have a ‘handicap’ Start (a.k.a. Sternchaser).  The sample video is of a handicap race on a P/M slalom course at Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club [2015].


Typical Slalom Racing (Sailing Instructions)


Competition will be conducted in the following divisions:-

  • Men
  • Women

2. ELIMINATION PROCEDURE (rules 37, 38 and 39 do not apply)

2.1 Subject to time and conditions, it is intended that competition will be double elimination raced in heats to select the 8 competitors to compete in the finals.
Subject to competitor numbers, it is intended that the first round heats will be conducted in weight divisions.
The number of heats and the number of competitors in each heat will be determined by the race committee on the basis of competitor numbers.
2.4 The four top finishers (winners) in each heat will advance on the single elimination ladder, the remainder (losers) will move to the double elimination ladder.
2.5 The single elimination ladder (winners) shall be completed before the double elimination ladder (losers) is started.
2.6 The finals shall consist of three heats for the top 8 finishing competitors from the double elimination ladder. All heats will count towards a competitor’s final score.
If there is insufficient time to complete the double elimination ladder then the race committee may elect to conduct the finals in accordance with SI 2.6 for the top 8 finishing competitors from the single elimination ladder.
2.8 When either SI 2.6 or 2.7 applies, at least one heat must be completed to constitute a Championships.
If there are less than 10 entrants, then a five heat series will be conducted. All heats will count towards a competitor’s final score (changes rule A4.4).
2.10 When SI 2.9 applies, a minimum of three heats must be completed to constitute a Championships.


A diagram of the elimination ladder advising competitors of the number of their first heat will be posted on the Official Notice Board not less than 15 minutes before the warning signal for the first heat and will be displayed adjacent to the launching area. During competition, a competitor’s status on the elimination ladder and the next heat they are entered, if relevant, will be displayed on the elimination ladder diagram.
The number of the heat about to start will be displayed on the starter’s boat at or before that heat’s warning signal and will be removed at the start signal for that heat. The number will also be displayed adjacent to the launching area.
At the race committee’s discretion, heats for the women may be conducted between heats for the men. In such cases, the women’s heat numbers will be prefixed by the letter ‘L’.
3.4 It is the sole responsibility of each competitor to know in which heat he or she will be racing.


4.1 The start line shall be between the mast displaying an orange flag on the starter’s boat and the centre of mark S.
4.2 A barging buoy may be positioned between mark S and the starter’s boat. Competitors shall not sail between this buoy and the starter’s boat from the time of their warning signal until they have started.
4.3 The races will be started in accordance with the following procedure (changes rule 26.1):-
Time to start Signal
1 min: Warning signal Red flag raised with one sound signal 30 secs: Preparatory signal Red flag lowered
0 min: Starting signal Blue flag raised with one sound signal
4.4 The interval between the starting signal of one heat and the warning signal of the next will be at the discretion of the race committee.
4.5 A competitor whose warning signal has not been made shall keep clear of the starting area and of all competitors whose warning signal has been made. Competitors infringing this SI or interferring with racing competitors may be subject to protest by the race committee.
4.6 A competitor shall not start later than 1 minute after their starting signal.
4.7 When a general recall is signaled, a new warning signal will be made 30 seconds after the general recall signal is lowered (changes rule 29.2 and Race Signals)

5. THE COURSE various

6. PROTESTS (changes rules 61.2, 61.3, 62.2 and 63)

6.1 Written protests are not required.
6.2 Competitors shall hail their intention to protest at the time of the incident.
6.3 A competitor intending to protest shall verbally inform the starter’s boat upon finishing or retiring from the race of that intention giving the sail number(s) of the protested competitor(s) and witnesses involved.
6.4 All parties to the protest shall immediately report to the event control tent.
6.5 The protest hearing shall be held as soon as possible.
6.6 At the protest hearing, each party to the protest shall have the opportunity to make two short statements, with the protester taking the first and third opportunities to speak.
6.7 Infringements of generic SIs 5.4, 7, 12 and SIs 3.1 and 4.5 hereof shall not be grounds for protest by a competitor but may result in a protest under rule 60.2 and 60.3 (changes rule 60.1(a)).


7.1 For the finals or a series of heats, competitors will be scored in accordance with Appendix A4 using the Low Point System.
7.2 Competitors will be ranked in accordance with their finishing position in their respective gender division.