PY handicap numbers 2014 – A local affair.

To take account of the differences between the various classes of dinghies that compete in the club racing and provide fair competitive racing, the results for each race are calculated using the Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) handicap scheme. For an introduction to the PY scheme see here, and for further detail see here.

The opening words in the introduction are “The Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme is an empirical handicap system which aims to handicap boats based on their relative performance against the other boats they race with. Handicaps are allocated and administered by clubs to suit their local factors such as boat type, wind trends and water type as well as enabling the club to evaluate crew skill factor.” The important words to consider in this statement are “Handicaps are allocated and administered by clubs to suit their local factors“. This is not something that has been done at the club in previous years, we have stuck to the annually published PY handicap numbers which represent national averages based on a whole range of sailing venues in terms of water size and type e.g. rivers, small inland lakes, large lakes, tidal estuaries and the open sea. However, different classes perform differently relative to each other depending on the venue, so the RYA strongly recommend that numbers are adjusted locally with the national numbers being used as a starting point.

For the 2014 sailing season we will be using locally adjusted club numbers (CN) for the racing, which have been derived from the 2012 and 2013 results. The numbers to be used will be published in March once the 2014 PY handicap list is published; this will allow the club numbers to be aligned with the national numbers so that new classes to the club can utilise the national PY until such time as sufficient data is available to issue a club number. For alignment purposes the Solo class has been chosen as the reference, since it has a large and relatively stable presence in club racing.

So why have we chosen to do this after so many years? You may have seen the article posted before Xmas which showed the Pecking Order i.e. the relative performances of the helms who raced in at least 4 races in 2013 against the 2013 PY handicap for their boat. This article also shows the relative performance of the helms in 2012, albeit against the 2013 PY handicap. When this data is combined to produce a single figure for helm’s performance over the last 2 years and is then sorted by class, it reveals a number of facts.

Click on the link below the image to open a PDF copy which will be easier to read.

PH calculations 2012_3

PDF file: PH calculations 2012/3

Many factors influence how well a helm performs and these need to be considered but include as examples,

  • suitability of the boat to the helm and crew,
    fitness of the helm and crew,
    how well the boat has been maintained,
    the age of the boat,
    the conditions of the sails,
    the suitability of the boat to the size and type of water.

If you look at the Laser, Scorpion and Solo fleets you can get a feel for the range of relative performance that occurs in a fleet. Then compared the top end of each of these three fleets; whilst the relative positions of the Laser and Solo look pretty fair, it is pretty obvious that the relative performance of the Scorpion fleet is not. I doubt anybody would argue against the fact that top end of the Scorpion fleet should be higher up i.e lower %. In fact this seems to be a common theme when all of the 2 person spinnaker boats are considered, which ties in with the fact that ours is a small lake and the spinnaker legs are relatively short. So the evidence is strong to support an adjustment of the handicaps for these classes.

This is one example of the what is revealed by analysis of the data and has formed the basis of the adjustments to product the club numbers for use in 2014.

Jon Edwards

I started messing about in boats at school, did my National Elementary Dayboat Certificate (a predecessor of the current level 2) in 1980 and have carried on ever since. My first sail at Shotwick Lake was back in '91 and I've been a member for the majority of the years since. My boat owning history is very simple; I don't do "narrow" as testified to by an International Moth, 2 Merlin Rockets and 2 RS300's, all of which are between 6' 7" (2m) & 7' 5" (2.25m) wide! But that said I'll sail almost anything and have in most cases, including the Laser, Laser 2000, Topper, Solo, Wanderer, Albacore, Wayfarer, RS400, RS100, RS700, 59er, Pico, Laser 4000, RS Vareo, Enterprise, Scorpion ..... Racing is very much my thing in all its forms, whether it is around the cans at Shotwick, the Merlin Rocket nationals around Olympic triangle courses with 1 1/2 mile beats, the Lord Birkett on Ullswater (200 boats; 19 miles) or the Round the Isle of Sheppey race (32 miles) with the unique feature of having to capsize the boat to get it under the bridge. I've even managed to fit in team racing in Pico's too! And as I advance in age I've even ventured in to yachting, doing the round the Island race on a couple of occasions. This is an annual race around the Isle of Wight with up to 1,500 yachts of all shapes and size participating.