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Ratings and Handicap Systems


Handicap racing is the generic term used to describe races in which boats (either dinghies or yachts) of different speeds compete against each other and, thorough subsequent mathematical calculation, their true positions in the race attributable to the skill of the crew is determined by negating the physical speed effects of the boats.
These determinations of which crew beat which are calculated by correcting the actual time it took each boat to complete the race by a numerical measure of the boat speed - its handicap.

Handicaps come in two general types:

  • Ratings, in which a numerical measure of a boat's speed is determined by calculation using physical parameters of the boat - length, beam, displacement (weight), sail area etc. A Rating is wholly objective as it addresses the performance of just the boat.

  • Empirical Handicaps, (commonly called just handicap), in which a numerical measure of a boat's speed is based on the past performance of the boat in previous races. An Empirical Handicap is thus a measure of the performance of both the boat and the crew

ORCi and ORC Club - Managed by the Offshore Racing Council (ORC) - Click here for info

IRC - Managed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) office and the UNCL - Click here for info

SCHRS - Small Catamaran Handicap Rating System - Click here for info

World Sailing Empirical Handicap Scheme for Yachts - see documents below


The above mentioned systems and schemes are those that are currently recognised by World Sailing. But there are many more Ratings and Handicaps which are perfectly acceptable and applied by Member National Authorities. Some of the systems and schemes are listed below together with links to the appropriate websites:

MNA Country System/Scheme Name Boats Type Link
RYA GBR Portsmouth Yardstick Dinghies Handicap Rating Combination Click Here
DSV GER German Yardstick Dinghies & Yachts Handicap Rating Combination Click here

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