Yacht races are classified as either category 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 in the sailing instructions or notices of race.
Category 4 or 5 is, in general, round-the-buoys type or short course racing in sheltered or warm waters. Compliance is self-regulated and requires only a skipper's declaration. Skippers should be aware that, in the event of a spot check, failure to comply may result in disqualification.
Category 3, 2 or 1 classifications refer to offshore and ocean races with different categories specified depending on the distance, duration and location of the race. Skippers must be able to present a current safety inspection certificate seven days prior to the start of a category 3, 2 or 1 race.
Category 1 safety certificates are also required by all (racing and cruising) New Zealand-registered vessels leaving New Zealand on ocean passages for overseas.
More information about taking your boat overseas here.
Yachts in major trans-ocean races must be completely self-sufficient for extended periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance. They will pass through areas in which air or sea temperatures are likely to be less than 5 degrees Celsius other than temporarily.
Passage or races of long distances and well offshore, where yachts must be completely self-sufficient for extended periods of time, capable of withstanding storms and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance.
Race of extended duration along or not far removed from shorelines or in large unprotected bays or lakes, where a high degree of self-sufficiency is required but with the reasonable probability that outside assistance could be called upon for aid in the event of serious emergencies.
Races across open water, most of which is relatively protected or close to shorelines.
Short races, close to shore in relatively warm or protected waters.
Short races, inside harbour limits or within fully protected waters to Category 4 or 5 are, in general, round-the-buoys-type racing or short course, harbour and inshore racing.