Imminent launch of a new model for performance handicapping boats

The new National Handicapping scheme for Cruisers (NHC) is due to be launched in March.

Over the past month, the RYA Technical department have been finalising the boundaries of the scheme and holding a series of talks with sailing clubs.

The next talks will take place on 14 March at the Royal Western in Plymouth and in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland at a date in March yet to be confirmed.

The department has received support from a large number of clubs, events and sailors who have all welcomed the move to provide a more uniform system for handicapping boats at a club level.
Bas Edmonds, RYA technical manager, said: ‘What we are really keen to avoid is a complete re-invention of the wheel when it comes to performance handicapping.

‘There are many schemes around the world in operation and what we have been looking to do is learn from those schemes and to develop a middle ground which we consider will work best with RYA clubs and members.’

The cornerstones of the new NHC scheme are based around a base handicap list followed by a consistent automated method for handicaps to be adjusted based on the actual performance of each individual boat.
The base handicap list is being derived from basic boat information and the formula is an old version of the IOR rating formula from the 1970’s which has been tweaked to take into account of design factors which are seen on more modern yachts in production.
Whilst there are many different methods and formulas for handicapping yachts, the simplicity of the IOR formula allows freely available measurement data to be used for most types of boats and even allows for scaling from a photograph if no data is available.

However, the simplicity will not be tested as harshly as the IOR rule was because NHC is aimed at club racing rather than being for serious race boats.
When it comes to performance adjustments, again there a number of different philosophies that the RYA could look to adopt or develop. Bearing in mind the end user base, the RYA has been looking at two different methods of adjustment based on different scenarios; club racing and regattas.
Club racing adjustment is based on a fleet of club boats, performing week in, week out, with a level of consistent racing.

The adjustment factors are smoother and allow for gradual increments to be applied to a boats handicap to allow for smaller changes in their handicap away from the base handicap assigned to its design.

This way each boat will work its way to its own actual performance spot and be assigned its own individual club handicap number.
Regatta adjustment is based on stronger adjustment factors intended to work in a five to eight race week environment where boats from a wide variety of clubs come together and all start from the base handicap list with no use of boats’ individual club handicap numbers.
Both methods are being developed with invaluable input from the major race scoring programs – Sailwave, Sail 100 and HAL; who are developing modules in-line with the new RYA scheme to coincide with its launch next month.
Mr Edmonds added: ‘Overall we are very much on track to get NHC up and running by our March deadline.

‘We have had a lot of support and input from the RORC Rating Office, Sailwave, Sail 100 and HAL as well as invaluable feedback from clubs who are keen to get their hands on the information and start working it into their racing calendars.’
The RYA Technical Department is holding several talks at clubs and conferences around the country to provide greater insight into the scheme. Contact Bas Edmonds at or call 02380 604 202.