Encouraging "bottom half" of fleet?

We race one-design dinghys (Sunfish, JY-15, Thistle) at our club and have some very strong sailors. For those of us who are not so strong, or for new folks just starting out, it can be frustrating to feel like we are always at the end of the results sheet.
I have seen suggestions to provide results focussed on sailors in the bottom half to help see how they stack up and how they improve, albeit slowly, over time against each other, rather than just against the top sailors.
However, now that I want to investigate this further, I am unable to locate information to help me.

Does anyone have guidance on how to identify the split in a fleet holding 3-5 races one day each week over a series of weeks without creating a completely separate set of results files?


Our club has tried a couple ideas over the years…

  1. Divide the fleet into 2 or 3 sections. I have found if you plot out each boat’s finish positions or, better yet, their series rankings, versus sequential race number and look at the resulting “snake graph,” the groupings of boats with similar skill levels usually jump out of the page. One approach would be to use a prior series (or year) to seed the current series groupings. Other approaches are possible, as well.

  2. You could try scoring using the statistical “z-score” (Google “z-score” to learn more about the parameter). It will take a spreadsheet to calculate this since Sailwave does not calculate the needed parameters :frowning_face:, so this can be somewhat complicated. But the z-score takes each boat’s current finish position, subtracts its average finish position (from all previous races), and divides by the standard deviation of its finish positions in all previous races. So, with the z-score, a boat is rewarded for (1) doing better than its average, and (2) maintaining consistency (low std dev). In theory, the top boats should not do well in this approach because it is hard for them to improve on their average score (since they are always near the top and you cannot finish better than 1st). In practice, the top boats do insert themselves occasionally. It may be that this approach needs a good-sized fleet - maybe 10 or 15 boats to work well.

  3. Score using elapsed time handicaps and apply personal handicaps. Sailwave does handle this well, but you need to buy into taking finish times. This is probably the only good way to level the playing field among the various skill levels, but for a one-design fleet to adopt time handicaps is a big change to the usual one-design race committee process.


For some years now we have used the RYA NHC progressive handicap for our one design Dragons and Squibs, and we did this for the same reasons you seem to have. We have two prizes per league one is the usual “First Past the Post” and then we give prizes based on the handicap results, none of the top 3 in the First Past the Post can win the Handicap Prizes. You can use end time or elapse time for this. Within Sailwave there is a facility to “Alias” a boat so we create the normal fleet then using the Alias function within Sailwave we create another “virtual fleet” that is the handicap fleet, and within the scoring options, you set you the different scoring methods.

We have ( well did if it wasn’t for Corvid19) two racing days per week one day’s racing is during the day and the other during the evening, because of the location of our racing and the nature of the coastline, Day racing can and does present different challenges to evening racing, so we manage the handicap for both evening and day separately, what I mean by this is that as one day league finishes we take the ending value of the individual’s progressive handicap and use it as the start value for the next day league. we do not take handicap values from evening leagues and use them for day leagues starts I hope that makes sense.

You only have to score each boat once per race, ie note the finish time or elapse time once per race, Sailwave looks after the scoring for the Handicapped Alias “Virtual” fleet.

To get the “base” NHC handicap for each one design please refer to the RYA site.

As an example of how Sailwave generates the results take a look at one of our League results for the Dragons in 2019 here https://glandoreyc.com/racingresults/2019/dsummerlge.htm

Apologies if you find my description confusing, there are probably others on this site than can explain it more eloquently, but I thought I would mention it as an idea for you.

Within this forum, you will see threads that explain the set up of Alias in more detail


Here at the Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club (NSW, Aust) we race monohulls and multihulls in separate divisions and we use an in-house handicapping system to encourage all sailors. We apply each boats Australian Sailing Yardstick at the start of the season and then apply a “handicap” factor after each race depending on each boats finishing position. Put simply boats coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd have their handicap decreased and the rest of the boats have their handicap increased. The amount of the change to the handicap depends upon the finishing position.
It is a bit of mucking around - Excel determines the new handicap which then has to be input into Sailwave - but the system works! Last season, out of 14 races we had 10 different winners in the monohulls and 7 different winners in the multihulls.
I am happy to provide you with additional information you might like. My email address is raceofficer@lakejindabynesailingclub.com.

Hi John Byrne,

If you create a custom template for NHC with the rules you are applying then you should be able to fully automate this process.

At Toronto Windsurfing Club our racing numbers stagnated for years until a new member/racer suggested we try something she called “buddy racing”. It’s a form of team racing where an experience racer is teamed up with a newbie (often at the bottom of the fleet) and the two of them can discuss tactics and strategies and the new racer gains confidence and experience from sailing with an experienced racer. It has done a lot of good for our racing programme. As score keeper of the racing series I put the teams into Sailwave’s team racing section which was a learning experience for me as I’d never used that part of Sailwave before.

Hello Jon,
Thank you for that information. At the moment, I have no idea what you mean but will do some digging in Sailwave and sus it out. :slight_smile:
Cheers. john

Thank you for all the responses and ideas.

I probably should have clarified that we are not scoring the different boats against each other (each fleet is uniquely scored, and have different formulas). I should have also included the fact that we only record finishing position, not times, so that probably limits our options…

Thanks again!

Thanks for clarification. The RYA NHC functionality with an external spreadsheet was originally developed for use with times races (elapsed or finish times) But it just a mechanism to hook up with an external spreadsheet. I can see that it could be used for ‘adjusting’ results for races using finish positions. It just needs an Excel spreadsheet the appropriate algorithm written.

Having a spreadsheet created with the appropriate algorithm for ‘adjusting’ place finish results together with aliasing your competitors, would allow you to produce two sets of results. One set as per your current scoring and a second using the developed spreadsheet .

Kind regards,