Personal handicap help

Hi, As a newbie I am trying to get my head around personal handicaps. I have set up a PH of 0.90 for the whole fleet for three different classes.
My question is do I apply the personal handicap to each race before scoring the race after the elapsed times have been entered. I have noticed that the back calculated rating is getting less each week.
Thanks for any tips.

Hi Steve,
Welcome to the Sailwave User Group forum.

FYI Sailwave can automatically calculate a new handicap/rating using the RYA NHC functionality. The initial handicap/rating value is set in the rating field/column when a new competitor is added. As part of the series scoring the rating for the next race is calculated. Note the Sailwave series must have one more race in the series than will actually be sailed. so when the last race in the series is scored there is a place for the new rating to go.

The RYA NHC has two modes an internal mode and an external mode. The external communicates automatically with an Excel spreadsheet which by default uses the RYA NHC algorithm for calculating the handicap to be used for the next race for each competitor. The algorithm uses all races completed in the series so far to produce the handicap/rating for the next race to be sailed.

If the RYA NHC algorithm is not to your liking you can always create and use your own algorithm in an external Excel spreadsheet. More information if appropriate.

The RYA NHC internal mode is hard coded into Sailwave and there is no option to modify.

Kind regards,

Hi Steve - apologies, I answered this when you posted but somehow got distracted and forgot to send it, just found it in my drafts folder. I notice Huw has also responded now

Hi Steve - The first thing I’m going to ask is how you want to use these personal handicaps.If you just want to update them once a season that is one method or there is the progressive personal handicap which automatically adjusts after each race based upon the results such that the new handicap rating is used for the next race. Sailwave supports the NHC system for this although if you want to get into this have a play with the NHC example included with the Sailwave install and come back and we can get you going further. The NHC built in conforms to the RYA specification and can only be changed to a limited degree. You can develop you own totally custom rules using an Excel template which you can design. The scorer has to have Excel installed but they don’t have to have any knowledge of Excel as it is totally automated.

Look forward to hearing back from you

Jon Eskdale

03333 443377
07530 112233

Personal handicaps can get confusing because there are several ways to do them with different aims and different results.

AIUI NHC is intended to be a best sailor wins system over a series. It was originally intended for cruiser racing as Portsmouth Yardstick for cruisers no longer had enough data to be useful. Folk who use it can correct me, but in general I would be mildly surprised if it threw up very different results to PY racing, especially at the front. The handicaps change each race as they become better attuned.

But best sailor over the series may not be what your sailors want, especially if you will be dual scoring a dinghy race with PY. No point in having two sets of prizes going to much the same people.

So what else? Best sailor on the day is suited for individual prizes in each race, where you have a handicap that hopefully puts everyone level in the series, and the chocolates go to the sailor who manages an exceptional - or very lucky(!) performance in an individual race.

A third way is to have an improvers series. Handicaps are calculated on the basis of the previous year, and so the prizes tend to go to those who have improved most. The front of fleet sailors rarely appear in the prizes, since its hard to improve on winning. Instead the winners tend to be younger and newish sailors, since they are the ones who have most room for improvement. Best IMHO used in a dual scored series where you award prizes based on both personal and standard handicaps.


Hi Jim and Steve. Re NHC just to clarify what NHC achieves over time is that the most improving competitor wins.
The way it works if you win your handicap is adjusted to make it harder to win next time and if you are at the back of the fleet it makes it easier for you to win.
So to win you have to be continually improving although depending upon how far the fleet is spread out it can take more races to make the results closer.
But in theory at least after a reasonable number of races, then to win will mean you have to sail better than normal (or the others sail worse)
So if you use the ratings from the previous series to start the new series then it should be pretty competitive.
Try putting an existing series through it and see what happens.


Hi Jon,
I have been playing around with a couple of current series. One where I allocate the personal handicap each race and another series where I I let the system calculate using NHC. The results currently are nearly the same( which I am pleased with) however without carrying forward the BCR from the previous season the quicker boats ( or better sailors) get a reasonable lead on the other competitors at the start. I may try bringing forward the rating and see what this does.
Thanks for all the assistance,