Yacht racing is a noncommercial boating activity. It may be racing sailing boats, cruising to distant ports, or just day sailing around a bay.
Whilst sailing's invention is prehistoric, racing sailing boats is believed to have started in The Netherlands some time in the 17th century, whence it soon made its way to England where custom-built racing "yachts" began to emerge. In 1851, a challenge to an American yacht racing club in New York led to the beginning of the America's Cup, a regatta won by the New York Yacht Club until 1983, when they finally lost to Australia II. Meanwhile, yacht racing continued to evolve, with the development of recognized classes of racing yachts, from small dinghies up to huge maxi yachts.
These days, yacht racing is a common participant sport around the developed world, particularly where favorable wind conditions and access to reasonably-sized bodies of water are available - most yachting is conducted in salt water, but smaller craft can be and are raced on lakes and even larger rivers.
Whilst there are many different types of racing vessels, they can generally be separated into the larger yachts, which are larger and contain facilities for extended voyages, and smaller harbor racing craft such as dinghies and skiffs.