Who are the real predators for sailing?

Published on October 12th, 2022

From his studio set in the beautiful British sailing village of Hamble in Hampshire, world-class yacht designer Tony Castro checks in regarding a recent Scuttlebutt story:


I would like to congratulate Craig Leweck for an extremely well written piece about handicapping, FlyingNikka, and the threat of ‘predators’ in our sport. It’s a warning that is continuously ignored.

Coming from someone that has studied and successfully designed for handicap systems, it’s amazing how people repeatedly make the same mistakes as far as handicapping is concerned. The World killed the IMS system because it did not understand it, not realizing that principle would eventually lead to the closest you will ever get to handicapping different types of boats.

Instead, the opportunistic IRC system (ex-Channel Handicap) took advantage and been selling a totally unsuitable system ever since, culminating in trying to match a foiling boat to a normal monohull with a IRC type rule! It’s laughable.

So long as the rules of the game allow people to come and hijack the event, they will keep coming. But don’t blame them. It’s fun for them and interesting for designers now hungry for the opportunity to design something exciting in a world of same-old-same-old looking boats.

Good on you Mark Mills (designer of FlyingNikka) for disrupting a sick system. The management of Sport is key and that is lacking sadly, and not just recently!

The demise of Grand Prix racing and a suitable rule (which the RORC was supposed to lead and instead brought in IRC through the back door) has led to a fragmented racing world, the demise of all great events, and with just a few (great) minute niche fleets – RC 44, TP52, etc. It’s a pity.

A good and fair handicap racing is the pill we all long to take, because it gives us an excuse to lose alongside some great moments too…

One-design is great but many classes suffer from real predators as their rules are poorly written. New classes come and go because of that basic mistake. They see it coming and do nothing about it!

I don’t think there is less people enjoying sailing these days, as one has only to see still very big events under these amateur rules like IRC; such is the appetite for competition. I just feel sorry for the owners. Many spending huge amounts of money, so called the predators, and then a couple of guys over a pint of beer decide to change their (secret rule) handicap and they will never win again! What a system…

All classes of boats of any type or size, with rules that are basically not good enough, eventually lose the appeal, are reduced to irrelevant, shrink to nothing or die altogether. One wonders who are the real “predators” then?

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