Our club handicapper is an idiot… or worse

Thank you for inviting me to “vent my Spleen”!

In my club, we have a constant problems with the handicapper and his setting of handicaps in mixed fleet yacht racing. We are using PHS handicaps for our regular races, but the starting handicaps are often a very long way off the mark, as the following will demonstrate!

It appear that the people on our Yacht Committee will look after their own interests first and foremost, and forget all about having fair and realistic handicaps.

In one Race Series, they handicapped a friend and myself to such a degree, that there was absolutely no possibility of any of us winning or getting a place, yet when we made complaints about these handicaps, we were told they were not subject to protests or redress. With this kind of handicap, it would be more fair for everybody, to draw a winner from a hat, at least everybody would have a chance of winning, so what is the point of having handicaps in the first place?

These Improper handicaps as TCF (Time Correction Factor) are shown here following the Yacht types:

31 ft Heavy Cruising yacht ( 4,500 kg.) with furling headsail, no spinnaker TCF 0.90
30 ft Heavy Cruising yacht ( 4,200 kg.) with furling headsail and spinnaker TCF 0.90
33 ft Racing yacht ( 3,000 kg.) with hi-tech race sails including spinnakers TCF 0.91
34 ft Cruiser/Racer ( 3,500 kg.) with hi-tech race sails and spinnakers TCF 0.91
31 ft Racing yacht ( 2,600 kg.) with hi tech race sails and spinnakers TCF 0.92

According to those handicaps, the first two on 0.90 should have a potential speed about 1% slower than the next two on 0.91, and just over 2% slower than the last one. Very unrealistic!

Our Committee could see nothing wrong with those handicaps, yet when I produced actual recorded race times from previous races, the speed/time differences amounted to about 25 – 26 % between those very same yachts.

Here I was thinking that PHS meant Performance Handicap System, and therefore based on actual yacht performance!

Using historical records from previous races, could be a good starting point, and then have a standard set of adjustments in increments of 0.01 – 0.02 and 0.03 to be applied after each race to 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place, to level things out.

I decided to contact the Race Committee overseers at YA and Yachting NSW to get their view of the situation. The reply I received more than three months later was very disappointing: The Rules Expert from Yachting NSW who was assigned to look at the numbers could see nothing wrong with these handicaps!

This leaves me feeling that I am wasting my time and money being a member of YA, if that is the kind of support I will receive from them.

All this means that Yachting is no longer a sport. If a handicapper can decide a race by his improper handicaps, before the race has even started, then it becomes “a farce” or “race fixing”!

It is easy to understand why the 'sport of sailing' is suffering a constant “drop off” in the numbers of participants, if this is the normal attitude from Yachting NSW.

In our Club we used to have 35 – 40 yachts out on every race week-end, now we are lucky to have 14 – 16 yachts. Unfortunately at our location, there is not an alternative sailing club to join. That could otherwise solve the problem, if many members transferred to another, fairer club.

In most branches of sport, there has been a call for: “fair play – play by the Rules”, that includes fair play by the committee people. With the above handicaps, I can only conclude that “race fixing” is now an accepted practise with YA and Yachting NSW. Unfortunately it appears that YA and Yachting NSW are not interested in stopping this practice! They want to appear to be in control and take all possible credits, without any responsibility or effort from their side!

YA and Yachting NSW should not be surprised that participation will continue to drop year after year!

All signs of sportsmanship has now gone!


Thanks that is better, now I have vented, or am I just getting Old and Grumpy!

Keep up the good work at My Sailing ( I have been subscribing to CH since 1987 or there about)

Cheers and Fair Sailing

(Name and club withheld to protect the guilty!)

Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
West Systems
Jeanneau JY55
Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
NAV at Home
JPK 11.80 July 2024