LPOYC uses a free program called Sailwave, which is widely used by sailing clubs all around the world. It can accommodate almost any kind of rating system one can imagine. Here is a link to the Sailwave site:
LPOYC currently sails under the NHC (National Handicap for Cruisers) system developed by the RYA (Royal Yacht Club) in England. Why? Our club has a wide variety of boats with different levels of sailing experience and boat preparation. The RYA system adjusts the boats handicap based on actual performance, rather than a fixed standard. As a boat improves their sailing ability, their handicap changes along with their progress.
There are quite a few pieces of information available that explain the actual calculation, and here is a link for all of the minute details:
But to summarize, I’ll provide the following.
At the start of the racing season, each boat carries over their rating from the previous season. That figure appears as NHC1 in the summary table for the series, and can also be found in the sailing instructions.
If a boat did not race in the previous series, a starting rating will be assigned. Generally, the starting rating is derived by looking at comparable boats in our fleet, and/or comparable boats with PHRF ratings. The conversion formula between a race rating and PHRF is:
race rating = 650/(550+PHRF)
After each race, the boats actual performance is evaluated by Sailwave to determine if their finish time was reasonable based on their rating. IF a boat finished way out in front, or way back, from where they are predicted to be, the system identifies that performance as an exception to the rule. This can happen because of lucky shifts, lack of crew, or dying wind. Currently we look to a figure of more than 1.5 standard deviations above expected, or 1.0 standard deviations below expected as extreme.
After extremes are taken out, a calculation of the differential between the boats finish and the rating they would have needed to finish first is calculated. Again, based on formula, the ratings are adjusted either up or down depending on how they finished. Again, all of the detail is on the RYA page.
Finally, the ratings are “normalized”. Since each boat that did not finish first would have a lower rating the next race, this leads to a general lowering of all race ratings. But, Sailwave adjusts each rating up after the first calculation so that the total of all ratings remains roughly the same from race to race.
So, what is the best way to view a boat’s performance?
First, look at the standings. Boats that are sailing consistently, and improving, generally do well. Series standings are primarily impacted by the number of races sailed. The more races sailed, the better a boat will do in a series, and the more consistent their ratings become.
Another telling indicator is the starting sequence for inverted start races. Look around at the boats you are starting with. Are you slower or faster? If slower, good job! You are sailing at or above your potential. If faster, how can you get some separation between the boats you are starting with and come closer to catching the slower boats ahead. Can you hold off the faster boats trying to catch you?
Of course, if you are really deep into number geek-dom, download a free copy of Sailwave and try it out on your own.