Beginners Guide to Class 8 Racing

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Buggy Priority Collisions hurt so learn the rules of the road!

Basically you must guard the front and the right side of your buggy.

If you are on a head-on collision course turn right and the other pilot should do the same. In all other situations, watch for pilots coming from your right and avoid them. Pilots coming from your left will avoid you, so don’t confuse them by changing course.

You may overtake on the right or left but it is your responsibility to avoid a collision with the overtaken pilot.

Wind direction makes no difference to these rules. For old-timers, the starboard rule no longer applies, but as a matter of interest if both pilots are beating (going upwind, a common situation), the new ‘guard your right’ rule is exactly the same.

There is a grey area between overtaking and converging. I guess you are overtaking if you are going faster and your angle of approach is more from behind than from the right. Use your common sense and be careful if it looks borderline.

In some situations you must make a conscious effort to look right because it isn’t natural; for example when the wind is coming from your right.

Kite Height

The upwind buggy must fly high and the downwind buggy must fly low. This is really just common sense. If you don’t do it you will tangle.

The kite height rule is nothing to do with buggy priority; you must never use your kite to block anyone. Kite height rules apply whenever you are close enough to tangle with another kite. It is the responsibility of both pilots to comply. In the event of a tangle the pilot who’s kite was at an unreasonable height is at fault. If you can’t control your kite properly, you shouldn’t be flying it.


Things happen quickly as bunches of buggies are opposing at a closing speed of 60 mph (a situation that often arises during slalom races). First pick a gap on the ground for your buggy using the priority rules. It’s often a good idea to look behind you. If the rest of your bunch is going for a different gap, will the ‘weave’ work? Having picked a buggy gap, look for the corresponding kite gap and get your kite to the right altitude to slot it through.


You must raise and lower whether you are overtaking or being overtaken.

 At a mark:

If there’s a line of pilots jibing (turning) a mark, the leaders will be downwind of the followers after the mark. Therefore kites must come in high and go out low. Down turns are often most effective.


Wear a helmet.


Don’t use Kevlar or similar abrasive lines. Length, from handles to back of kites no more than 60m.


You must be able to release your kite in case of emergency. Open hook (windsurf harness) or a quick release system is considered OK. A strap around your back isn’t.


Upper limits 3m wide, 3.5m long, 26 inch wheels, 20 kg extra weights and no sharp edges like in Ben Hur.

Display your number:

You should have at least 3 numbers with digits 14 cms high, 2 cms stripe in black on a white background. One should be visible from the back, and one on each side.


If there is a pilot’s meeting you must attend. There may be important information about safety, exclusion zones and race layout. You may be disqualified for not attending.
The start is a ‘rolling start’, and is announced by flags and noises at 5 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute, 30 seconds, then a 10 second countdown. Try to cross the start line at reasonable speed at zero. It helps to have a watch.

Races are usually triangular, so you have to sail in a variety of directions. Hint: going down-wind is worth practicing.

You must not touch the marks.

You can change equipment in the race, but only off the course.

It’s an individual sport. Assistance during a race is not allowed unless it is for safety reasons.

After a set period of time (usually about 20 minutes), when the leader crosses the finish line, the chequered flag comes out. All races finish when they pass the chequered flag.

 Race Scoring:

First place in a race gets 0 points, 2nd gets 2, 3rd gets 3 etc. At the end of a series you add up all your points and the lowest score wins. Penalty points may be added if you have been naughty in races. In a series there are usually some discards. So in a 10 race series only 8 Scores might count and your worst 2 would be discarded.

There are other twiddly bits for when the scores are identical