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Why another rating system?

VPRS was originally created for club racers sailing out of Poole Harbour and it was developed alongside a racing community dissatisfied with the existing systems. Interest has steadily grown, and the aim is now to offer a system which is both credible and affordable, and universally applicable.

The Poole Yacht Racing Association (PYRA) decided to use VPRS following a successful trial in 2010. Adopting a single system increased class sizes and removed artificial class boundaries. The scoring was simplified - and better classes made the racing much more appealing. The main clubs around Poole Harbour now use VPRS and organising competitions between clubs is easier.

The yacht ratings are calculated from a set of measurements, most of which are already in common use. A velocity prediction program (VPP) gives the required precision - and it has freed the measurement guide of most of the complexity usually seen. Ratings can quickly be calculated for visiting yachts, and there are estimating routines which can cope with missing data. To keep things fair, any estimates are biased to ensure that no advantage is conveyed.

In the interests of open competition the rating certificates, which include the measurement data, are published online. Free certificate re-issue twice-yearly is provided for corrections and updates.

Rating - or handicapping ?

A rating system simply rates the performance potential of a boat; bigger numbers for faster boats. The elapsed time in a race is multiplied by the rating to give a corrected time, and the corrected time is used to decide the finishing order and who gets the silver. The idea is to level the playing field so that the results reflect the ability of the crew - and not that of the boat.

A handicapping system uses race results to assess the performance of a boat including the crew. The starting handicaps aren't critical, as after a few races the numbers should have been adjusted so that everyone, regardless of boat or ability, has the same chance of winning. If you generally enjoy winning prizes then this could be a good thing. On the other hand, if you think that sailing well should be rewarded, then it could be quite annoying. One of the biggest problems with handicapping is that the numbers are only meaningful if the crew is identical in every race; any change invalidates the handicap and guessing an appropriate one is the only option. Single-handed handicapping can work well, and it is frequently used in dinghy racing.

Of course both systems have their flaws; the response to wind and waves can be quite different for boats with the same numbers, so that in light conditions one will be faster, whereas the reverse will be true when the breeze freshens. All this is well understood and it's the reason that classes usually contain boats with similar numbers and performance profiles.

If this sounds interesting ...

... then have a look at the measurement page, which provides all the material needed to complete an application. As well as the written guide, there are pdf diagrams to help with the measurements - and there are pdf and Excel application forms. The apply page gives contact and pricing information.

Finally, if you keep your boat in Poole Harbour and would like to race along the coast and offshore then you could join PYRA, as the rating certificates are provided free with full membership.

Copyright 2016 VPRS