Dinghy handicap racing deserves support

Published on December 9th, 2022

Getting boats on the water is the goal but with dinghy one design classes, meager interest may leave boats on the trailer rather than on the race course. The solution in the UK has been their Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) handicap system which gathers all-comers to promote activity.

While this idea hasn’t gained much traction in North America, it should.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the scheme, which was invented by Stanley ‘Sinbad’ Milledge at Langstone Sailing Club in Portsmouth. Now, the PY handicap system is run jointly by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and its affiliated clubs to allow sailors to race different boats against each other fairly.

Like all handicapping systems, it is a work in progress, with the RYA now urging all clubs to submit their 2022 PY data so it can ensure the handicap system is as accurate as possible for the 2023 racing season.

Sail GP

At the end of each year, clubs submit their results data to the RYA which collates and analyses it then adjusts PY numbers accordingly. The more data received, the more accurate the PY numbers will be.

PY numbers have remained frozen for the past two years due to the impact of COVID-19 on racing, but the hope that an influx of submissions from 2022 will allow for the numbers to be updated.

“As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Portsmouth Yardstick scheme it would be great if this year was one of our largest returns showing how strong our clubs and classes are after a turbulent 2020 and 2021,” said Adam Parry, technical manager at the RYA.

“The new PY Online website makes it easier than ever before to submit data, and we are hoping that this year we can have enough data to help update numbers and help clubs create fairer racing for their members.”

The deadline for 2022 submissions is December 20. The revised PY numbers will be released at the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show in February 2023.

For more information or assistance, contact technical@rya.org.uk.

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