Portsmouth Yardstick Handicaps for Some High Performance Dinghies Raced in North America


The Royal Yachting Assocation (RYA) and the US Sailing Association (USSA) both maintain handicap systems for racing one designs (and some keelboats) under handicap. Though they are both called Portsmouth, they have different handicap numbers for the same classes; you cannot use numbers from one with numbers from another. US Sailing also provides the option of using three handicaps for each class, depending on what the wind strength is. Both systems rate faster boats with lower numbers.

Apart from the different handicap ranges, examination of the handicaps indicates that a class that rates faster than another class in one country do not necessarily rate faster in the other country. I believe this occurs since both systems are based on empirical data, collected in that country. The Dinghy Database provides detailed information on many classes sailed in the UK. I took the RYA handicaps for the listed classes from that site. The US Sailing handicaps are from the latest US Sailing Association, Portsmouth Yardstick, 1995.

Relative handicaps might be used to compare the speed of these high performance one design (and development) classes, raced in North America.

Here are some representative Portsmouth handicaps for the International 505, and some other high performance classes. Under the USSA numbers, the 505 is slower than the A scow and E scow, and slower than the FD in some conditions. It is faster than all other boats on this list, and indeed is faster than any other centerboard monohull rated by US Sailing. By the RYA numbers, the the I 14, FD, and International Canoe (of the boats on this list) rate faster than the 505. The One Design 14 (both versions), Johnson 18, A scow and E scow are apparently only raced in the US; at least no RYA numbers for those boats are available. In addition, there are not enough data points for complete USSA ratings for these boats (except the E scow) and the International Canoe and International Contender. Check the notes that follow the table for a detailed explanation of the brackets; basically limited data.


Class			RYA	US Sailing
				overall	low	med	strong	v high (wind range)
				 	0-1	2-3	4	5-9	

International 505	97	80.1	82.4	80.6	79.5	78.8
International 14	94	86.5	87.2	86.8	84.4	84.4
One Design 14		 
	(std. rig)	---	88.0	---	87.4	---	---
	(Grand Prix)	---	86.3	(88.1)	(88.0)	[84.3]	---
Flying Dutchman		94	80.0	82.4	81.4	77.8	76.8
470			103	86.6	91.3	88.2	84.3	83.1
Johnson 18 w/spi	---	[85.0]	---	[85.2]	---	---		
A scow			---	62.1	[63.3]	(62.0)	[56.0]	---
E scow			---	73.2	77.7	75.3	70.3	69.9
Fireball		105	86.0	87.9	87.7	84.7	83.2
International Canoe	96	80.8	---	81.2	(79.1)	---
International Contender	105	91.6	97.1	94.9	85.3	---
Laser			114	91.1	93.2	91.7	90.6	89.0
Laser II (trp/spin)	109	93.2	96.4	94.5	92.9	90.8
Finn			114	90.7	93.4	92.1	88.7	87.5

Notes:


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