The eSailing World Championship has officially been launched with the game now available online for millions across the globe to play and enjoy for free.
In partnership with Virtual Regatta, the leading digital sailing platform, the eSailing World Championship will be comprised of a series of weekly challenges and play-offs, with the boat types and venues changing on a regular basis.
The series will culminate in a live arena final to be held in American city Sarasota on October 30.
"The launch of the eSailing World Championship takes sailing into a brave new world, where the core skills of sailing remain, but the constraints of venue and equipment are removed," a World Sailing statement reads.
"Sailing demands constant inputs and an acquired skill-set to manage the relationship between the boat and the forces of nature.
"These unique qualities are all captured accurately in this virtual world and will provide sailors onshore, and fans without access to sailing equipment, to become engaged and inspired by the excitement of sailing."
Governed by the virtual racing rules of sailing, the 2018 eSailing World Championship open-access game will start on May 10 and run through to the start of September.
Each challenge will be graded based on its importance with players earning ranking points.
The top five players from each weekly challenge will automatically qualify to the play-offs.
The play-offs will bring together the pre-qualifiers and the top-ranked players from the eSailing World Championship world rankings, until a quota of 1,000 is reached.
The play-offs will be an online virtual regatta and will last up to 14 days in September.
The top-four-ranked women and top-four men from the play-offs will qualify for the eSailing World Championship final.
They will be invited on an all expenses paid trip to compete against the best eSailors in the world.
It will be held in front of a live crowd at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota and streamed worldwide on a range of OTT (Over the top) channels from Twitch to Facebook Live.
Each challenge will be held in boats that are internationally recognised with the intricate details that make them challenging to sail on the water seamlessly incorporated into the game.
Players will be able to race in boats including the J/70, a popular worldwide keelboat, and Nacra 17, the Olympic mixed multi-hull.
They will also be able to do so in the 49er and 49erFX, the high performance men's and women's Olympic skiff, and Melges 32, a dynamic racing keelboat.
Alongside the announcement of the launch, World Sailing has welcomed North Sails, the worldwide leader in sail-making, as an official technical partner for the eSailing World Championship.
"Sailing as a sport is constantly pushing the boundaries of human innovation and engineering, and World Sailing is entering a brave new world that is going to revolutionise our sport," World Sailing President Kim Andersen said at the launch event.
"As the world governing body, World Sailing has a duty to develop and promote the popularity of the sport.
"We are moving the sport into an exciting new future that will inspire millions more to fall in love with a sport that so many of us here hold dear to them.
"Aimed at everyone from expert sailors to sports gamers, the eSailing World Championship will enable sailors on shore and fans without access to sailing equipment or facilities to become engaged and inspired by the excitement of sailing."
Philippe Guigne, founder and chief executive of Virtual Regatta, added: "It's a very big day for Virtual Regatta.
"We are launching the most ambitious project we have ever undertaken and we are proud to be partnering with World Sailing who have become one of the first International Federations to enter this industry."
The International Olympic Committee recognised esports as a sports activity last November and it is due to be included as a demonstration sport at the Asian Games in Indonesian cities Jakarta and Palembang in September.
Esports was also a demonstration sport at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan last September.
It will debut as a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China.
The International e-Sports Federation, a South Korean-based organisation which claims to represent 47 countries, including 18 from Asia, has recently revealed it is in "deep in talks" with organisers of the 2024 Olympics in Paris about incorporating the discipline as a demonstration sport at the Games.
Last month, Kenneth Fok, President of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, urged esports to unite and regulate itself properly before Hangzhou 2022 to help its campaign to become an Olympic sport.
He warned an industry conference that the sport must have a single governing body if it is to become a mainstream sport and join the Olympic Movement.