How it works…
The core principle of the National Handicap for Cruisers (NHC) progressive handicapping system is that the handicap is for a specific boat and its normal crew (so it’s not just a boat handicap like PHRF). The system presumes that every boat is being sailed to the best of that crew’s abilities, with a view to winning the race.
A new boat joining the fleet will be given an Initial Base Rating specific to that boat using a tool provided by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which uses the best available theoretical performance data for that boat . The Handicap will apply initially, but will be adjusted after every race and series as the boat and crew’s true performance emerges based on actual races sailed. This adjustment is smoothed so it takes a number of races and results for the handicap to adjust to the boat and crew’s normal performance. This is what the Progressive bit means. Over time and with handicap data accumulated, a boat’s rating will stabilize within a small range, and that figure becomes it’s Club Rating which will be carried forward from race to race and series to series. This rating will change based on performance so don’t freak out when it does.
Where a boat does something which, in the opinion of the CSYC NHC Handicap Committee, might grossly improve its performance, things for example like altering its hull or mast, changing its weight , then the CSYC NHC Handicap Committee reserves the right to alter that boats Club Handicap upwards, including after the start of a given race or series (usually because it only becomes aware of this change after the fact), and so give a boat an Adjusted Handicap which will be used to calculate the result in that race. Once a boat receives an Adjusted Handicap, then its handicap will be recalculated after every race until again, its handicap reflects it new performance level. We don’t see this scenario happening often.
There is a high degree of analytical science involved in any handicapping system, but that analysis is only as good as the data accumulated for a given boat and crew, so the more data, the more races that a boat sails, the better the NHC handicapping will become. It must also be recognized that there are many external things which impact a boats performance, from getting a favorable wind shift, boats that are relatively faster in heavy air, to a bad tack, all of which impact your performance and are completely outside the scope of any handicapping system. Don’t expect perfection, just consistency in application.
Most of all… have fun out there!