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PY, IRC, NHC, have you heard of YTC?

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Sigmas don't always race with other Sigmas - recently they have only had the choice of IRC or NHC.

Mithril racing NHC at SLYC Frosties 2022

IRC is a great rating but expensive for a lot of club sailors while NHC has been a free system available over the last five years or more but with growing complaints when not fully implemented.

IRC requires the boat owner to apply for a new certificate each year and be able to stand over their boat's measurements including displacement/ load weight which often means hiring a crane and a measurer. The club committee simply enter the IRC number and their Sailwave (or similar system) works out the results quickly

NHC requires a bit more work from the Club race committee as the NHC numbers change from week to week and ideally need modified again every 5-10 races. It also struggles with infrequent sailors who may start with a base number and this can jump up and down depending on who else was racing that day. As a result a number of sailors and club committees have had many questions about NHC which was introduced as a "golf-type" performance handicap with the hope that it would encourage more boats onto the water. Some sailors worked out how to sand-bag results and were able to affect their NHC rating as a result.

PY (Portsmouth Yardstick) was a handicap system more close to IRC in that it was a fixed handicap per boat type. It worked well when there were fewer boat classes and these were generally consistent with few modifications between boats. PY fell out of favour when it couldn't cope with the plethora of boats with numerous modifications from the same manufacturer.

As a result, a group of sailors from the South West including Falmouth decided to put together a new rating system more similar to PY using a limited number of boat measurements which include "boat show" advertised figures for hull measurements. Named the SWYTC (South West Yacht Time Correction System), this has been in development for over 10 years and by 2022 it was being used by 55 clubs with over 600 boats registered. More info at

Noting its success, the RYA was keen to offer this handicap system across the UK (and abroad if they want to join in) and has negotiated with the founders to allow it to be used on a national scale. The founder's main requirement is that it remains free of charge to all users to encourage as many to get racing. RORC has been employed to run the new handicap system now called YTC on behalf of the RYA who will fund it.

The new system will go live in February at Boat owners will then apply for a 2023 handicap entering 7 measurements - hull length, displacement, information about keel shape , engine type, propellor and sails. You may be required to send in information to support your entries - for example a sail manufacturers invoice for sail measurements. Alternatively clubs may appoint a sail measurer - there are courses being held around the UK to train "club sail measurers" this month. Sail measurements are similar to IRC measurements for those with experience of these. RORC may question your entered information if it has similar boats with different measurements and ask you to justify your entry.

A complicated formula then calculates your new YTC rating. Your entry should take less than 7 working days to get your 2023 handicap. You will also receive a white sail YTC number which should be 70% of the spinnaker rating.

Clubs can register to use the YTC and have access to the database to enter boats handicaps.

The YTC rating for the registered boat will not change in 2023. The only way that it may be changed is through a protest by fellow competitors to the club race committee which will then forward the protest if felt valid to RORC.

At the minute Sigma 33 OOD's don't have a base YTC rating and each Sigma has to apply. It is hoped that there will be a drop down list of popular boats like Sigma 33 OOD's although it is unsure that this will then self populate the measurements. However many of these can be found on an IRC handicap rating as included below so it should be relatively easy to fill in. RORC also knows what a SIgma 33 OOD's measurements should be so it can then stand over your entry.

YTC is much less specific than IRC - for example for a Sigma 33 to have a different YTC without a different displacement measurement if it has been lifted out and rated, it must have increased (or reduced) its sail area somehow either through a taller mast or different sail plan.

YTC is not expected to replace IRC which will still be the premier handicap for monohull racing and takes into account many more factors than the rather more blunt YTC. However YTC is free of charge and much more simple to register for - you will have to apply each year but if there is no change in 2024, then you simply tick a box to say so. Your number may change each year as more boats get registered and some results are analysed, and there are aims to keep evolving it - for example age factor has been mentioned as a possible entry in the future.

There is another very different aspect from IRC to YTC - the former is a multiplier x time elapsed to calculate corrected time while YTC corrected time is elapsed time x 1000/YTC number similar to the old PY system. I am not sure why except for nostalgia.

Race Committees should put in their NOR whether they are going to use YTC and also by what date boats should have registered to get their YTC rating. They shouldn't try and estimate handicaps or use different handicap systems together. Some clubs have suggested using the YTC rating as a base number for the NHC handicap system which was also brought in to encourage beginners (similar to a golf handicap) but it is envisaged that the YTC system should be used a stand-alone system.

This information is from a RYA seminar ran this evening and I hope to have remembered it correctly and captured most of the essence of the new system. Hopefully it will encourage more boats out for club racing with fewer disputes. It may also stop some cruiser owners from arriving with a "bandit" genniker or similar half way through the season as they will only be able to apply for a number once per year.

For reference, this is my IRC certificate from last year which I believe should have all the required measurements required for any YTC application next month.

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