Boat racing is a competition between 6 boats. The six competing boats are numbered and color coded.
Once all boats start by crossing the start line, they compete by rounding two buoys: the 1st then 2nd turn markers in order, then complete 3 laps (1,800 meters) around the 600-meter racing course.
Unlike a standing start at athletic competitions, the BOAT RACE employs the rolling start system in which the racing boats must pass the start line within the set time.
Using the rolling start system in the BOAT RACE, if a boat passes the start line ahead of all the others, it is advantageous for the boat. However a boat will be scratched from the race if it is judged having committed one of the two false starts. One false start is the case when a boat passes the start line too early before the giant clock hits zero. This is a "flying start" (F) which means a premature start in Japanese. The other is when a boat passes the start more than a second after the clock strikes zero. This is judged as a "late start" (L).
*Note: Bets on the scratched boats are refunded.
Prior to the race start, all of the attending competitors of the race perform two types of the practice runs, called "exhibition runs", to check their boat’s functionality, especially their engines. This provides the audience with useful information they can use to forecast the winners before bets are made. The first practice run is called the "Start Exhibition". They perform a practice start to find an advantageous start position in the race compared to the other racers. This is followed by the "Lap Exhibition" in which they perform a practice run at full speed for two laps around the course.