Many coming to our sport are unsure of the how the winners and placings of Sailing Races are determined.

A. The First Boat to cross the Finish Line in any Sailing Race is described at the Line Honours Winner .

If all the boats in the race are identical, this is a fair result, but many races comprise boats of different sizes, capabilities and speeds.

Various methods have been developed to provide all boats in the fleet with the opportunity of winning a race, if they have been sailed well enough -- known as Handicapping, Yardsticking or Rating.

All these methods use Timing and Calculation to determine the Race winner - if you sail well enough,  you will win the race even if you crossed the line in last place!

B. Race Timing

The Timing of the Race commences when the Class Warning Flag is first raised. This is usually 5 minutes before the first start, but if multiple starts are being used, it may be 5, or 10,  15 .... or up to 30 minutes before a particular start. Race Officers make a note of this "waiting" period for each start, often labeled the "offset".  Once the Timing has commenced, it runs until the the last boat has finished the Race. Timing can be by a watch, or more often a Stop Watch.

The Time  each boat finishes is carefully noted by the Finishing Team.  This Time is known as the FINISH TIME and is used as the base to calculate the race results.


C. Calculations

1. Firstly,  the "Waiting period" or "Offset" is subtracted from the Finish Time to work out the ELAPSED TIME - the actual time that each boat took from their Starting Signal to crossing the Finishing Line. 

2. Once each boat has an Elapsed Time for the race, that time is adjusted by a Handicap known as a Yardstick or Rating which modifies the Time according to the different performance of that boat.  In Australia, Dinghies and Catamarans use a Yardstick first developed by the Victorian Yachting Association and now adopted nationally by Australian Sailing and known as the Australian Sailing Yardstick (ASY).

To work out this Yardstick, hundreds of race results  were analysed to determine the relative performance of most common boats raced in Australia, and Yardsticks are checked and adjusted annually against new figures supplied by Clubs and Class Associations. Comparisons are also made with other Rating systems, notably the British  RYA Portsmouth Numbers.

3. This adjusted Time is known as the "CORRECTED TIME" - a time corrected for the different performance of different boats and allows boats of varying design and performance to compete fairly against each other.

For example a Tasar with a Yardstick of 108 (108%) can compete against a Laser Radial with a Yardstick of 118.5,  a Sabre with 127, a Sabot with 160.5 and an Optimist with 170.  In this way, a Optimist could win a race against a much faster Tasar,  if sailed well enough.

(Elapsed Time / Yardstick) * 100 = CORRECTED TIME

Line Honours        TASAR ---  ( 45.65min  / 108 ) *  100   =    42.27min ----- Corrected Time  (SECOND) 

OPTIMIST---  ( 71.32min  / 170 )  *  100  =  41.95min  ----- Corrected Time   (FIRST)

4.  The days of calculating post race with pen and paper, even with a calculator, are long past. Now specific Race Scoring software based on computer spreadsheets is used to calculate Results.

5. Maroochy Sailing Club uses the Sailwave Scoring program and from an input of the Finishing Time, and the Race Offset, the program calculates the Corrected Time of each boat and ranks them in that Finish Order. Errors occasional occur, but are most likely from mis-recorded Finish Times or input errors from rushed or jaded Scorers. Once identified, errors are easily corrected and the scores re-calculated. Scoring Programs also track performance over a Series of Races at a Regatta, discard the worst performaces and calculate the Series Results.


If you would like to know more about Scoring at Maroochy, talk to John Ladewig  or Peter Brodie


Some more links - the 2018 AS Yardstick lists are at the end of the two AS documents.



As well as each Class of boat being allocated a performance-based Yardstick, each skipper is also allocated a Personal Handicap based on their prior performance. As they improve their sailing skills, their Personal Handicap (PH) is adjusted on a race-by-race basis. This method ensures all skippers have the opportunity to take a First Placing if they sail well enough. Maroochy Sailing Club uses the British Royal Yachting Association Personal Handicap system.

So each race is scored twice - once using Boat Yardsticks, and a completely different Personal Handicapping of each Skipper. The Sailwave Scoring Program is used for both Scoring systems, with different settings for each method - two different results from each set of Race Times!