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Business on the Water: The Tech-Driven Evolution of Boat Racing

Meta: Dive into the impact of technology in ocean races, revolutionizing competitive sailing. Learn how Japan’s boat racing, kyōtei, blends tradition and innovation.

Boat racing is an exciting and historic sport that has fans all over the world. It combines skill, planning, and the natural power of water to make it exciting.

In boat racing, the primary categories include rowing, regatta, and yachting, offering a mix of innovation and tradition. From sailboats’ elegance to powerboats’ speed, boat racing provides a captivating spectacle.

Technology plays an essential role in boat racing as the sport evolves. Modern boats, including solo navigation vessels like Pirelli’s Luna Rossa, use advanced tools such as GPS and radar and innovative materials for speed.

“Alla Grande Pirelli,” a pioneering all-Italian ocean sailing project, exemplifies this tech integration with a custom-designed hull and an eco-friendly energy profile using solar panels and hydroelectric generators.

As boat racing navigates the intersection of tradition and innovation, sailors recognize the essential role of technology in ensuring safety and optimizing performance. The fusion of skilled seamanship and cutting-edge advancements propels boat racing into a dynamic future where tradition and technology work together to enhance the sport.

Sensor Information Improves Ocean Racing Decisions

Researchers from the University of Twente — Jos van Hillegersberg, Mark Vroling, and Floris Smit — conducted a study in 2017 exploring decision-making improvements during ocean races. The research analyzed data from the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race, where every boat had a similar design and was equipped with many sensors, giving rivals access to real-time information.

Boat, navigation, and wind data sensors make up the three main categories of sensors. This gave sailors access to information on the boat’s wind direction, speed, position coordinates, and heel angle. Based on this information, sailors could make well-informed judgments throughout the competition, and post-competition analysis allowed them to assess how well their decisions worked.

The integration of these advanced sensor technologies not only revolutionized competitive sailing but also paved the way for a paradigm shift in how sailors strategize and navigate the challenges of the open sea.


With real-time data at their fingertips, sailors could adapt swiftly to changing conditions, enhancing their overall performance. These advancements marked a significant evolution in the sport, showcasing the profound impact of technology on sailing tactics and decision-making processes.

These days, similar measurements that include sensor data are typical in many ocean races, changing how decisions are made in competitive sailing.

Kyōtei (Japanese Boat Race)

Kyōtei, or boat racing, originated in Japan in the 1950s, featuring fast powerboats in a format like Formula 1 for boats. Six boats with a single driver go around laps ranging from 600 to 1,800 meters. Spectators bet on race outcomes using tickets called funaken.

With 18 races spanning from January to December, including the Grand Prix, Kyōtei stands out as racers are in motion before the official start time. There are male and female racers in the sport, with around 10% being women.

Japan hosts races in 24 locations, allowing legal betting as part of kōei kyōgi, encompassing public sports like boat, horse, bicycle, and asphalt track motorcycle races. In Japan, hydroplane boat races are a form of legal public betting permitted by gaming laws. After deductions for the course provider, payouts are determined by bets placed on single or multiple boats.

With over 40 betting locations, special member accounts, and online/mobile platforms, accessing races is convenient. This distinctive and legally sanctioned betting has gained significant popularity, enriching the spectator experience at hydroplane boat races.

Kyōtei has gained such popularity that it has expanded to neighboring countries, opening a venue in South Korea in 2002. Japan’s boat race venues go beyond the races, offering extra services to enhance the spectator experience. These services include information booths, various seating options, restaurants, shops, kid-friendly facilities, and fan events.


Kyōtei’s growing popularity has made the sport a global cultural phenomenon outside Japan. Japanese venues strive to provide an optimal viewing experience, providing a range of facilities to cater to different preferences.

With only six competitors per race, Kyōtei provides favorable odds for winning. The proceeds from races got to various projects. Races employ a rolling start, with boats assigned colors based on their starting positions. To succeed in boat racing sports betting, understanding tips for betting on boat racing is essential.