Following a detailed review of the Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme the RYA has announced that from March 2013 a new performance handicapping system will be rolled out for cruiser racing.   

The driving force behind the upcoming change is due to a reduction of data over the past five years, particularly in relation to cruiser racing, that has been detrimental to the RYA Portsmouth Number list.  

"Whilst the Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme for dinghies has been prospering via the website collection of race results, there is unfortunately  little that the RYA has been able to do to increase the amount of data for the cruisers despite best efforts and the difficult decision has been made to implement a new system", explained RYA Technical Manager, Bas Edmonds.  

"The Technical Department has been looking at a number of different systems which have been implemented both in other countries around the world as well as around the UK and we have started work on a performance handicapping system which will be rolled out in March next year.  Key to this has been the support of the RORC Rating Office who have been keen to see a unified approach in the UK."

Mike Urwin, Technical Director RORC Rating commented: "Key to the success of cruiser racing in the UK is to have a simple scheme which enables the base of the sport to grow which in turn will feed on to IRC. The reinvigoration of club cruiser racing is only going to benefit all involved in this area and both the RYA and RORC are together in making sure that this is a priority for the future."  

When reviewing the situation as to why clubs were no longer returning, a common thread was that clubs had turned to either publically available measurement systems via the internet or had looked to start their own local measurement based scheme. These looked to give clubs a single number for a boat derived from its basic measurements which could then be further adjusted based on any differences made to the boat such as bigger sails or added equipment to the boat.  

Bas continued: "We have tried to take the best of both worlds where you get the accuracy of a measurement based scheme which looks at the physical parameters of a boat, and then adjust from this base dependant on the boats actual performance. Factors that might additionally affect the boats performance such as sail area, age of sails, crew skill, boat preparation etc. can then all be adjusted for empirically by each club.  

"When developing the new scheme one of the important points we had to recognise was that unlike the dinghies, there is very little class racing and in fact all of the cruisers are different in some way or another. If we recognise that each boat is different, then it will perform differently and we need to move away from a single number for a type of boat but actually ask the clubs to give each individual boat its own performance based number."  

The new scheme will be under development during the winter and will be released in March 2013. The RYA have accumulated a large amount of boat measurement data to be able to publish a significant base list and will be working with a number of scoring programs to make sure that any adjustments required are able to be incorporated before the launch.  

Guidance on the workings of the scheme will also be available during February and the RYA Technical Department will be making sure that as many clubs as possible have seen the new scheme before its release to make sure they can plan their season accordingly.  

"It is important for the RYA, its clubs and their sailors that there is a national scheme which is freely available and works for the majority of cruiser racing that is taking part in the UK", Bas concluded.