All the sailing events on the Olympic programme, apart from the women's Elliot 6m event, are fleet races, and follow the same competition format.

In fleet racing, each event has a series of races. Points are awarded in each race: first scores one point, second scores two points, etc.

After ten races (15 races in the Skiff event), points from the worst race are discarded. The remaining points are added together.

The ten best athletes/crews then advance to the medal race. Points are doubled, so first place gets two points, second gets four, etc. The points total after the medal race determines the placings.

The athlete/crew with the lowest number of points is the winner.