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Handicapping scheme for Cruisers takes off in Britain

by Emma Slater on 28 May 2013
National handicapping scheme for cruising boats is gaining numbers. Blake Middleton
Since its launch at the beginning of March this year, the new National Handicapping scheme for Cruisers (NHC) of RYA has gone from strength to strength, thus showing the popularity of the modern cruising boat whose crew want to race from time to time.

The base list published has grown from 1200 boats to nearly 1350 boats. Enquiries and interest have come in from clubs all around the UK as well as boat owners looking to get racing as simply as possible.

The RYA’s Technical Department has also been out on the road promoting NHC to RYA clubs – giving talks at a wide number of clubs around the country from Ballyhome Yacht Club in Northern Ireland to the Island Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight.

As part of the on-going development of the scheme, the RYA’s Technical Department is working on covering new aspects to NHC which it is hoped will broaden its appeal.

First is to look at including multihulls into the scheme, which were not covered by the initial list of boats published by the RYA. The Technical Department has been looking to MOCRA (Multihull Offshore Cruising and Racing Association) to see if they are able to assist in this area as the specialists in dealing with cruising/racing Multihulls.

Bas Edmonds, RYA Technical Manager, commented: 'Developing multihulls is the next challenge for us in making NHC as applicable to as wide a range of clubs as possible.

'Adding multihulls raises a significant complication to NHC as the formula used is exclusive to monohulls. We are looking at creating a new formula which takes into account the different characteristics of multihulls and linking that into actual performance with monohulls. Not a simple matter but one that we hope to be able to solve adequately.'

The second area of development is around the 'single race' scenario which is a weakness of performance handicapping the world over.

Bas continues: 'As NHC and performance handicapping in general require race results to build up a performance profile for each boat, a series which compromises of a single race only will not be able to be sailed using an adjusted handicap. We are considering methods of calculating an adjustment factor for a single race such that if the base number is wrong then we can back calculate what the original handicap should have been to be applied at the beginning of the race.'

Given that sail racing is greatly influenced by the conditions and contains an element of luck – working handicaps out on a single race is never going to provide fair racing. However there are adjustments that we can do to improve on the base list after a single race to make sure that some of the inaccuracies are removed. It will never be perfect but we can certainly improve on where we currently are in this.

The final part of the development will be for the RYA Technical Department to release the NHC Calculator to clubs on a request basis only. As NHC is not designed as a true measurement scheme, the NHC calculator will be sent to clubs only as what we would like to avoid is every owner or club member looking to measure their own boat and asking for a different base number from their club. NHC is a performance handicapping scheme and it is anticipated that every boat will move away from the base number after the first race based on its performance.

For more information about NHC, or to arrange a talk at your club, contact the RYA Technical Department by email at technical@rya.org.uk or visit the RYA website – www.rya.org.uk

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