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New PY website to make club racing fairer

Big move to match class performance to your club

Most of us have probably experienced the frustration of putting in, what you felt was an awesome performance on a Sunday morning, only to not see that endeavour reflected in the handicap results?

The RYA's new Portsmouth Yardstick website is set to be an end to those days by enabling all clubs to produce PY numbers that reflect a specific class' performance on your club's waters.

The aim? To make club racing fairer, hence it becomes more enjoyable and more people are incentivized to take part more regularly as they know their result means something.

The website has been an RYA Technical pet project for a while as they responded to feedback from clubs and sailors who felt that, for a whole multitude of geographical, topological or meteorological reasons for example, they can't sail their boat to its handicap at their club.

What the new website does is give clubs a way of making handicaps tailored to the club, its conditions and the number of people who sail there. As Tom Walker, RYA Technical Coordinator, explains, if clubs fully embrace the new website, it has the potential to change the face of club racing as we know it.

He said: "The new website enables clubs to feed in and build up the data specific to them so a handicap can then be created for that class at that club.

"So, for example, people at a small lake club in the Midlands might want to sail an asymmetric but the water is too small for them to ever get the spinnaker up. Effectively they are sailing a two-sail boat as a result, but the handicap is based on three sails so they will never meet it.

"Or you have someone who wants to sail a Mirror single-handed, but the PY is based on it being sailed two up, so again the handicap doesn't reflect the way the boat is being sailed at that club. Through the website a handicap could be created for asymmetrics being sailed under two sails or Mirrors being sailed by one person, for example.

"It means clubs can accept different boats with different set ups, and the more flexible they are the more people can participate more regularly."

How does it work?

The RYA produces a PY list each year, which is made up from returns submitted at the end of each season. This produces an average number gained from all clubs across the country, including all classes sailing in different types of conditions sailed by all levels of sailors.

Getting this baseline figure in place is the most important thing in then being able to tailor adjustments for clubs so if you haven't submitted your returns for 2016 yet, you have until Friday 16 December to do so. This can be done either via the PY Online Website or by completing The Electronic Return Form.

To produce a usable return, clubs need to make sure the numbers returned accurately reflect your club's boats performance on your club waters. By analysing race results, the website will then offer a list of recommended PY numbers forming a club list, which is catered specifically to your club.

You are then provided with a PDF with the changes you can pin up on your notice board. And best of all it is signed by RYA Technical Manager, Bas Edmonds, so gripes can't be directed at the person pinning it up!

Currently the website integrates directly with Sailwave and HAL results programmes, although work is ongoing to get the system to integrate with more such programmes.

Any other benefits?

As well as making club racing fairer for existing members, the PY website also provides a brilliant marketing opportunity in the form of a new interactive map, meaning clubs and classes can easily promote their racing and locate race officials.

This is great for sailors who might be looking for a winter series, for example, or a sailor moving to a new area who wants to know where they can sail their boat locally.

Want to know more?

The RYA Technical team are properly excited about this development and want to help you best adopt the website so you can take maximum advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Tom will be at the RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference on 19 November - clubs can book a 1:1 clinic with him and he will be running a workshop too. You can book here - conference booking details. 

Bas and Tom are both willing to come to your club, or a group of local clubs, to demo and explain the system in full so if you would like to arrange a club(s) talk drop Tom a line to  - he will also be able to help with any other PY related queries you might have.

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