New sportsboat championship
Organisers of the Barratt Homes Plymouth Race Week, the Royal Western Yacht Club, have announced they will take a lead by incorporating the UK’s first Open Mixed Sports Boat Handicap Championship into their new regatta, taking place over 7-10 July.
Recent years have seen a vast increase among many racing enthusiasts to downsize and get their racing kicks via more economic means. Not surprising with the tough economic climate we are all experiencing and this has been reflected over the last few years where conventional yacht racing has been in slight decline at all major regattas.
Commodore of the RWYC, Chris Arscott, commented: “The growing interest in smaller trailable, slip launchable, lifting keel sports boats needed to be given due consideration and this is an exciting step forward for the regatta. It’s so often the case that skippers are watching the entry numbers for their class before taking the plunge but, with a mixed sports boat class they will be guaranteed an exciting start and challenging racing regardless of individual class entries.”
For the handicapping, they will be taken out of the IRC and will instead us a PY number and this would be sufficient for handicapping purposes with a handicap team/committee would be appointed to adjudicate to ensure an equal playing field.
As the Seascape 18 UK distributor, Peter Wanstall has leapt at the opportunity, he said: “I have already nominated PRW 2011 to host our first National Championships and would be happy to incorporate this within a mixed handicap sports boat fleet, whereby from a single start any class with enough numbers can race as a one design class within that universal start.”
As for the criteria of ‘Sports Boats’ a few definitions, similar to those taken by other organisations would be laid down. Namely, to be under 26 foot in length, trailable, able to be launched from trailer down a slip, have a lifting keel and be under 850kg weight.”
It was in the USA this phenomenon was first realised and acted upon, and in 2008 at Charleston Race Week a mixed sports boat class was conceived. Handicapping the different types of boats was done via a simple system similar to our PY.
Charleston Week has grown exponentially over the following years with the sports boats now being by far the greatest number of entrants. The race organisers now view the sport boat category ‘as the fastest growing and most exiting niches in sailboat racing today’.
Following on from Charleston’s example, in Australia the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron have just hosted the ‘2011 Australian Sports Boat Association National Championships’ and, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club the ‘Asian Sports Boat Championships’. All have been great successes and brought more competitors to their regatta events.