The LFYC Handicap mystery. :)

In LFYC we operate a handicap system to try and make club racing as fair as possible for all sailors at various skill levels sailing in a variety of boats. This article will attempt to explain it.


The LFYC Handicap is based on the RYA PY of the boat. The Portsmouth Yardstick is a system where boats of different classes are given a number, known as a PY number. Different boats get different PY numbers depending how fast the boat is deemed to be. Each year various sailors send the RYA times around a fixed course. These times are average out and a PY is calculated. 1000 is divided by the PY and multiplied by the race time to get a corrected time.

For example say a race takes 1 hours or 3600 seconds then:

3600 X 1000/980 would represent a fast boat like a FIREBALL (3672 corrected time)

3600 X 1000/740 would represent an ultra fast boat like a 49ER (4865 corrected time)

3600 X 1000/1127 would represent a fast new GP14 (3194 corrected time)

The PY is amended each year. Quete often the PY gets smaller as boat design improves. The annual amendment is made using the newest boats in the class.

Some very new designs of boat do not have a PY awarded for several years until the class gets established.

The GP14’s we sail in LFYC are the best GP’s around (Alistar Duffin makes a fine boat) and so top of the fleet LFYC sailors sail their GP’s at the PY.

A brand new LASER with new sails is quete different from a 10 or 20 year old LASER. A new plastic Phantom is a very different from a wooden Phantom.

The LFYC handicap

The LFYC handicap adds numbers to the agreed RYA PY number to allow for the age, method of manufacture and condition of the boat. We also add to the PY to allow for the skill level of the skipper and crew.

The LFYC handicap helps to make the racing fairer and closer. It is not an absolute system and it is limited by invisible boundaries of reason. For example a GP sailing at a PY of 1400 no matter how old would seem a bit beyond reasonable. The LFYC Handicap is awarded at the begining of the year. It is adjusted from time to time to accomodate new sailors and changes in performance based on results. Appeals can be made where LFYC Handicap appears unfair. Appeals will be heard in good faith and if appropriate changes may be made.

When races are Long and Close the LFYC Handicap seems to play a bigger part. Say a race of 1 hour 20 minutes (4800 seconds) finishes with just 100 seconds between first and third boat this is what  happens when the LFYC Handicap is applied:

1st across line 4800 X 1000/1127 a well sailed fast GP14 = 4259 corrected time 3rd place

2nd across line 4850 X 1000/1180 a slower GP14 = 4110 corrected time 2nd place

3rd across line 4900 X 1000/1195 an older LASER = 4100 corrected time 1st place

It is clear from this illustration that if slower boats can finish close to the leaders then their handicap will bring them up the ranks. So, if you are sailing a fast boat to its PY then watch the boats behind you, don’t slow down till you cross the line, you may be first across but the seconds before the next boats finishes count to great effect.

In this blog I will try (not always, its more hassle) to publish the corrected time (for example 3895) in seconds beside each set of race results.

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