Review: Yacht Race

Yacht Race

Publisher: Parker Brothers

Number of Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 40-90 minutes

Release Year:1960

Year I got it: 2006

It’s a cross between: Checkers and Pirate’s Cove

Number of Plays to Obtain Proficiency: 2. At least, I hope so, since I’ve only played it twice. Since the game is so long, there is a good chance you will gain proficiency on your first try, but probably not at the beginning of the game, which may keep you at a disadvantage.

Replayability: Definitely playable more than once, though definitely not in the same sitting. This game is very competitive, being a race, and that can drive some who know how to play to want to play against new challengers. It is a fairly unique game, so it is a useful one to have in your repertoire to show off, especially to other board game aficionados.

Social Interaction: This can be a pretty social party game, but only if everyone involved is a board game nerd. If it isn’t moving quickly, it can get a little boring, sort of like Monopoly, so you want to make sure everyone involved is a quick thinker, and hopefully, a quick wit. If you play with someone like my brother, who makes pirate references and is all-around very silly, you will be doing plenty of laughing.

Yacht Race is an old game, but that doesn’t preclude it from being any fun. Alas, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been in print for at least 30 years. The only place that I know of that you can get it is eBay. Most of the copies are no longer pristine, including mine which is missing two pieces. So, I guess my copy is only for 2-5 players, not 2-6.

It was introduced to me by my advisor at college, Sam Rebelsky. We played it at a dinner party at his house one day. All of us were CS majors, and I’m pretty sure most of us were geeks. Melissa had to leave early because the game was taking too long! I guess it isn’t that exciting a game to watch, especially when it takes a long time.

The game comes with a beautiful and very large board which is divided into a grid. The board is supposed to represent the location of the yacht race, and there are various islands and land masses to be navigated around. The objective is to get your yacht out of the starting gate, around some buoys, and back to the start before anyone else does.

The difficult part is managing the wind. All the players have to synchronize their movements with a common wind direction. It can be changed by any player on their turn, but only a certain number of times during the game. When your boat is supposed to be going north, and the rest are all supposed to be going south, it can be difficult for you to keep the wind in the right direction.

You also have spinnakers that you can use to double the speed of your boat, but only if you are going directly with the wind. If you try to tack against the wind, your spinnaker will go down and you will lose it. You only get three spinnakers for the whole race.

Yacht Race is best when played with more players, more than 4 makes it really fun, these strategies also work best when the race is crowded:

  • Getting across the grid at the start and finish is the trickiest part of the game. When getting out, try not to stray too far away from the pack, and try to block the other players if you can. When returning, plan your moves ahead at least 3 moves in advance if you can, and watch out for being blocked.
  • If you are in last place, and everyone but you has already rounded a particular buoy, that’s the time to change the wind. Set up the wind so it is against the rest of the players and favors you. This is especially nice when rounding the last buoy, as most of the other players have run out of wind changes.
  • Use your first two spinnakers fairly early, but save the last one for the final rush across the board to the finish. The competition gets fierce and usually the distance between players narrows during this last push and you want to have every advantage available.
  • Don’t forget that not only can you block a player by being in front of where they want to go, but you can also block their wind by being directly upwind. If you really want to prevent someone from moving, move up behind them and then change the wind so that you are blocking it (or ask someone else to do it for you!)

Yacht Race is a very good game, especially for being as old as it is. I recommend it, even though it’s hard to find. If you can’t find a copy, come over to my house and bring a few friends!


3 Responses

  1. The game is great if you have excellent yacht sailsmanship. The only way to better it is if you had cannons and a peg leg.

  2. Hi, I just bought Yacht Race for14 bucks only in a street fair in Valparaíso, Chile.

  3. I usually do not create a ton of comments, however i did some searching and wound up here Review:
    Yacht Race | Gregorus Minimus. And I do have a few questions for you if you usually do not mind.
    Could it be simply me or does it look as if like some of the responses
    come across as if they are coming from brain dead visitors?

    😛 And, if you are posting at other sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post. Could you list of every one of your communal pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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