Saturday, 2 March 2013

2013 Portsmouth Handicap numbers

[Update 04/03:  It has been bought to my attention that if you type "RYA Handicap" into Google, this blog post is third on the list of search results.  I have no idea why.  If you have made it here through that route, please don't expect great insight into the handicap system.  And none of the commentary in the following ramblings are sourced from the RYA, this is just a little blog for the sailors in Emsworth Slipper SC and TISC.  But welcome anyway, your views are giving me all time high stats!] 

The RYA publish revised handicap numbers every year, usually around the time of the Dinghy Show.  This years numbers were published last Friday, here.  There are some interesting changes for our little fleet at Slipper and TISC, which I summarise for the benefit of the esteemed readership.

ISO : Minus 2 points to 924
At last the RYA have seen the light and started to make a gradual transition to the obvious '900' handicap for the ISO, with a 2 point decrement this year.  The RYA made a last minute statement regarding the ISO (this is obviously from from a credible source in the RYA, and in no way manufactured by me for the purposes of blogging) : "The ISO handicap was on course for a significant reduction this year, but we had reports from a recent TISC race in which an ISO capsized twice in relatively benign conditions, and did some 'wearing round' in previous races.  As a consequence we are limiting the reduction to a mere 2 points for this well known handicap bandit".  So there you have it from the horses mouth, good to see the RYA on top of the detail of the yardstick process.

RS300 : Minus 5 points to 995
The first move in a number of years for the RS300 handicap, dropping five points to 995.  Again the RYA had specific commentary on the 300 : "We have been inundated with requests from certain south coast clubs to reduce the handicap on the RS300.  Whilst there appears to be little data to support such a move, we have had enough of answering the phones about this and have reduced the handicap by 5 points to get everyone off our backs.  We'll try to get it back up to 1000 next year when all the fuss has died down, apologies to all 300 sailors impacted."  We 300 sailors are a relaxed breed, and will adopt the new handicap with the stoicism which typifies the fleet.  A move of 5 points equates to 18 seconds in an hour, I'm not sure that would have changed many results last year.  Its fortunate that I've been capsizing so much, I like to think that in doing so I've made a small contribution to the class by stopping further reduction.

Laser : Plus 2 points to 1087. Radial: Plus 7 points to 1117. 4.7: Plus 5 points to 1180
The Laser family continues its inexorable rise in handicap, but to be honest it seems well justified.  Training partner Claire (or my 'sailing wife' as my real wife puts it) has announced her adoption of the the Radial rig as default choice for the season ahead, and was joyful at the rise in handicap.  It does seem odd that the Radial and Standard handicaps are so close given the relative size of sail, but I guess the statistics inform otherwise.

RS400: Down 1 point to 947
But the 400s should look on the bright side, the 300 handicap was reduced by 5!

In the end, none of this matters - it is the position within class that counts, not a handicap system that does account for wind strength, water state, tidal conditions and course.  That said, I do look forward to the f2 handicap races of the spring and summer, once we get this bout of windy winter races out the way.


  1. Handicap racing is ultimately always arbitrary. Whenever I do it I always treat it as a bit of fun and don't read too much into results vs other classes.

    Yes, the Laser and Radial are not as different in speed as you might think. Especially when you consider that they tend to be sailed by skippers with body weight matched to the sail area. I had a good practice session last year with a woman who is about the same standard as I am. With her in a Radial and me a full rig, we were surprisingly evenly matched upwind in 12-15 knots. I was faster but not by much. Then downwind I was a lot faster but that may have been more to do with technique, hard to say.

    1. I wonder whether both rig sizes are limited by hull speed upwind, but not when planing downwind?

    2. I think that's probably it Mark. Upwind if you have the sail controls right and are hiking hard you will sail at hull speed, with maybe a little bit of variation depending on how good you are at stopping the waves from slowing you down. Downwind if you can catch a ride on a wave you can make huge gains.