The annual update each March of the Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme (PYS) is met with mixed emotions from sailors of different boats around the country. This year is no exception as once again the data feeding the scheme offers up more adjustments to handicaps for a wide range of dinghy, keelboat and multihull classes, allowing clubs to run handicap racing for their members.

As the Portsmouth Number (PN) list is published to coincide with the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show (4-5 March), it serves as a great reminder of the diversity of boats within the UK allowing sailors to pick the boat that suits their style of sailing. The diversity in the UK sailing market means that handicap racing is of equal relevance to one-design racing in helping clubs deliver fair and fun racing.

Whilst there is the normal snakes and ladders for different classes, the 2017 PN list provides more of an insight into the health of handicap racing around the country.

There are some noticeable consistent trends when compared to last year with data showing that the fleet has on average ‘got slower’, with a view that single-handers have led this trend. Equally the double handed dinghies with asymmetric spinnakers have all got perceptibly faster from last year’s numbers.

Part of the continued drive by the RYA through PYOnline is to improve the service to clubs running handicap racing, collecting race information in order to drive the PYS forward.

Tom Walker, Technical Coordinator (Racing), commented: “The work we have done over the past few years with PYOnline is continually giving the RYA a much higher standard of data which is allowing us to be even more accurate when reviewing the handicap numbers.

“A trend we are keen to change is that clubs only look to upload data to the website when encouraged to do so by the RYA, which means we receive a lot of data at the end of the year and over the Christmas period. We have an ambition to publish the Portsmouth Number list earlier in the year, potentially in time for January at the beginning of the year – but need clubs to be uploading data more regularly throughout the year.

“In addition, we are looking to expand on the services the website offers. PYOnline now collects one-design races and allows all of the clubs results to be displayed within a unique page for each club advertising its racing services. This also allows us to see which classes are more active around the country as well as who is racing the most!

“With more data we have the potential to look at different areas, such as seeing who is the most competitive Solo or Merlin-Rocket sailor in the country,” added Walker.

As with every year, the RYA would like to thank all of the clubs that have supported the Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme by submitting results and data to the website. The Technical Team will be available on the RYA Stand in the Panorama Hall during the Dinghy Show to answer your questions on the scheme and how your club could make the most of the resources offered.

For further information or to arrange a PY talk at your club, please contact technical@rya.org.uk.

To see the full Portsmouth Yardstick Number List please visit: Portsmouth Number List 2017