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Nathan Titcomb

Although common in the UK, handicap regattas for one-design dinghies in North America are much more the exception. However, US Sailing makes it easy to bring together an assortment of boat types to enjoy the competition.

Nathan Titcomb, offshore director of US Sailing, explain how:


What is the new Portsmouth Yardstick Online (PYOnline)?
PYOnline is the Royal Yachting Association’s updated version of the traditional Portsmouth Yardstick. This is an online interface for collecting results and calculating new scores for classes with limited data, or local club scores.

Essentially, it is an objective calculation of the data that results in a real-time update and adjustment of the numbers of assessments once the results are entered. US Sailing has partnered with RYA to bring the system to mariners in the United States

How it works?
Mixed fleets of different classes run on the same route. The elapsed times are recorded (and noted using national rankings) then uploaded to the PYOnline portal. PY Online then takes the elapsed times and statistically calculates new rating suggestions based on the results. When several boats of the same class are racing, only the best times are used to create the updates.

The only challenge is that when only one boat of a class or configuration is being sailed, common sense must be used not to provide updated ratings based on poor navigation. The more data entered for several races, the more precise the ranking suggestions.

How is this different from the old Portsmouth Yardstick?
In short, it’s modern! Sailors here in the United States have so far used a 50-year-old system. The most comprehensive answer is that PYOnline guarantees faster and more defensible updates to Portsmouth numbers. It also gives a club or fleet the tools to make local adjustments to specific scores based on statistical analysis of previous race results.

There are also other differences. The numbers in the American DPN (Dixie Portsmouth Number) system were all based on a constant of the Thistle class which had a number of 83.0. New numbers are usually larger in value by a factor of around 10, which means the overall base number is around 1,000. Also, each time you enter results, the system adjusts the score. for a class sailed in your local fleet.

What does this really mean for sailors / one-design classes?
There are several reasons why a one-design browser / class would be interested in browsing under the PY.

1. First, we all showed up to a race night or event where there just weren’t enough boats for a one-design start. Combining the courses under PY gives the opportunity to get on the water and compete in a slightly different way while having fun doing what we all love, sailing.

2. The second reason is that PY can help new designs / classes enter the water with the competition to help finalize development or even help develop fleets by simply starting with one or two boats locally. If anyone else sees how cool your new boat is, they might want to buy one too. You can only sail alone for so long before you’re ready to line up against another boat and race. PY can provide this opportunity.

3. There is also a third possibility which may not be suitable for everyone. Since the system is results-based, you can treat an existing one-design fleet as a mixed fleet with each sailor being a ‘class’ and come up with assigned ranking numbers adjusted according to the skills of each of the skippers / teams to help. to level the game area. You would then have two results for a given day, the actual order of arrival of a model and then the order PY, which could help keep the team (s) at the back of the pack to come back for s ‘to improve.

What does it take to get there or to get started?
Ask your local class or club to register (Click here). This will give you the login information to download your results and the resulting calculations.

You can also start by just running and collecting times. The PYOnline web page has a good starting point for PY numbers for around 1000 classes.

The easiest way is to take a few boats and go racing. You will need a volunteer from the race committee to record the elapsed times and someone who can use either simple scoring software or a spreadsheet, but that’s it!

How many boats do you need?
A minimum of 3… From there, add as many as you want!

If I am a one-design sailor, does it track my progress or only that of my class of boat?
While it is possible that all Sailors will be tracked in all classes with the PY system, this would be in a later update to the PYOnline platform.

How often is it updated?
Locally, potentially after each race for which results are submitted. But, at the national level, we will publish annual updates of the national ratings.

Can PYOnline accommodate both one-design classes and PHRF style boats?
Yes it can handle both, however it becomes a bit of a challenge if PHRF boats change configuration on a daily basis like spinnaker size, crew or other things. But if these changes are followed, the system should work well for mixing dinghies and keelboats. Remember that most of the keelboats that race PHRF are also one-design boats!


To find out more about the Portsmouth Yardstick and PYOnline, Click here.

Source: US Sailing One Design Central


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