The races use a flying start. These full bore takeoffs are one of the features that make motorboat racing in Japan so exciting. A big clock marks the start of the race. The competitors make three 600 meter laps for a total of 1,800 meters in all racing arenas. Under the running start system, boats must have crossed into but not left the start zone in the second before the clock reaches zero. Boats that exit the start zone early are classified as 'flying', and boats that enter it late are classified as 'late'. In both cases all bets related to the disqualified boats are refunded.
Two minutes before the start the trumpets sound and the big clock lights up. The six racers rush out of the pits and vie for starting positions in the waiting zone. As the big clock clicks down the seconds to the start of the race, the racers watch it to time their running approach to the start zone - where they must be positioned exactly one second before the start time. As the race proceeds, the clock's three meter hands show the elapse time.
A giant TV screen also shows each decisive maneuver as they occur during the heat.