Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resources 2017 728x90

Getting more people racing: A look at Poole Yacht Racing Association

by Rupert Holmes 7 May 2015 09:46 BST 7 May 2015

Rupert Holmes looks at the moves Poole Yacht Racing Association has made to engender competitive and fun yacht racing, with strong social bonds...

Poole in Dorset may be blessed with some of the best sailing grounds in the UK, including easy access the extensive sheltered waters of Poole harbour, the larger expanse of Poole Bay and the English Channel. However, we all know that great natural facilities alone are not enough to ensure a good turn out for racing events.

The Poole Yacht Racing Association (PYRA) has been among the most pro-active and innovative of local sailing organisations in both lowering the bar to entry for yacht racing and in ensuring competitors have the best possible overall experience. The association organises racing for yachts and multihulls in conjunction with three local clubs – Poole YC, Parkstone YC and the Royal Motor YC.

In the late 2000s, the fleet was split between serious race boats and cruiser-racers that were rated under different systems. This meant numbers in each class were diluted and each one had to cover a wide rating band. "At the time the nonsense was that we had virtually identical boats racing neck and neck, but in different classes," says the association's Ken Morgan.

The solution was for the association to pioneer its own rating system for monohulls, dubbed the Velocity Prediction Rating System (VPRS). It was developed with the aim of offering a credible, affordable and universally applicable alternative rating system. "The modestly priced VPRS system allowed us to pull the whole fleet together, with sensibly banded class divisions, which made for much better racing," adds Morgan.

Ratings are calculated from easily-obtained measurements, which are then run through a velocity prediction program. There is no attempt to manipulate a boat's, or a crew's, rating beyond the figure output by the VPP. Accurate ratings can therefore quickly be calculated, which helps to keep costs down – membership of PYRA costs just £50 per year, including the rating certificate.

To keep things easy for those who want to try racing for the first time, the system has estimating routines that can cope with missing data, although these are biased to ensure no advantage is conveyed. Significantly, for owners of cruising boats, losses from cruising orientated sails and furling gear are reflected in the ratings.

The success of VPRS is such that other clubs along the south coast, including Chichester Cruiser Racing Club and Hardway SC in Portsmouth harbour, have started to adopt it. Find out more about VPRS at: www.vprs.org

Racing formats

The association runs a varied programme that takes into account member feedback, including the fact that they may wish to try a different mix of events each year. For instance, in 2013 the association ran an early season longish race down to Torbay and Dartmouth, which was very well attended.

For 2015 the schedule runs on alternate weekends, with a 24-race series, including an opening pursuit race and a day of two-handed round the cans racing. After that it's passage races, mostly to the Solent, plus two extended weekend cross channel triangles.

There's scope for a wider range of event types in the future. "Who knows, perhaps a demand for more round the cans racing will return, or another night race, or another PYRA on Tour. The important thing is to keep the racing fresh and exciting," says Morgan.

Social aspects

As well as aiming to provide the best possible experience on the water, social events around each race are also central to the association's ethos. "This is hugely important and largely explains PYRA's enduring popularity," says Morgan. "For the past seven or so years we have managed to find commercial sponsors, which means crews turn up at an away rendezvous for a prize giving with complementary drinks and sometimes a buffet or barbecue, and maybe a quiz or treasure hunt. People love it. There's loads of banter, lots of fun and getting to know the other crews."

Finally, Morgan gives four top tips for good yacht racing:

  1. Interesting, varied, exciting and achievable races/courses.
  2. Straightforward, understandable and efficient race management.
  3. An accurate, fair rating system and class structure.
  4. A fun, non-cliquey social side with an emphasis on welcoming and involving new members.
Find out more about PYRA at www.yachtsandyachting.com/club/936/Poole-Yacht-Racing-Association and at www.pyra.org.uk.

About Haven Knox-Johnston

Run by boating enthusiasts for boating enthusiasts, Haven Knox-Johnston has grown to become one of the UK's leading providers in boat insurance. All policies are backed by the financial strength and security of Amlin Syndicate 2001 one of the largest Syndicates in Lloyd's.

Haven Knox-Johnston has over 28 years of experience in providing boat insurance for most types of craft including sailing boats and yachts.

Haven Knox-Johnston is a trading name of Amlin Underwriting Services Limited, St Helen's, One Undershaft, London EC3A 8ND which is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

www.boatinsure.co.uk

Related Articles

MS Amlin launches new client loyalty benefits
It is about more than just insurance MS Amlin Yacht, one of the UK's specialist boat insurers, has introduced a new client loyalty scheme. The scheme rewards existing MS Amlin customers, who have been claims free for 1 year or more and have continuously renewed their boat insurance policy. Posted on 27 Jul
MS Amlin partners with Round the Island Race
Team of three yachts have a tidal and tactical contest The MS Amlin UK Yacht Team moved into Cowes, Isle of Wight for this year's Round the Island Race in association with Cloudy Bay, organised by the Island Sailing Club on Saturday, 7th July. Posted on 18 Jul
The family man with the family connection
We speak to Paul Knox-Johnston, Business Development Manager at MS Amlin We speak to Paul Knox-Johnston, Business Development Manager at MS Amlin about sailing, cycling, business and ideas to increase participation in sailing. Posted on 27 Feb
MS Amlin Awards 2017 Seamanship Trophy
At TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show 2017 MS Amlin, continuing 17 consecutive years as race partners of The Round The Island Race in 2018, will be presenting the 2017 Seamanship Award on their stand at this year's theyachtmarket.com Southampton Boat Show. Posted on 7 Sep 2017
MS Amlin partner Round the Island Race 2017
Supporting the race for the 15th consecutive year MS Amlin Yacht continues its support of the Round the Island Race as a Race Partner, for the 15th consecutive year in the role of Marine Insurance Partner. Posted on 14 Jun 2017
Is the top end of the sport aspirational?
America's cup capturing the interest of young sailors With the America's Cup going on, I - amongst many other sailors - have been in two minds as to whether the event is working to get more people into sailing, in particular young would-be sailors. Posted on 12 Jun 2017
Exploring Cornwall's Historic Coastline
John reveals his favourite secret spots In John's final episode on Cornwall's coastal heritage he reveals his favourite secret spots along the Cornish coastline. John's favourite spots all feel slightly off the beaten track, but are all very accessible to boat owners. Posted on 11 Jun 2017
Exploring Cornwall's Historic Coastline
John visits Cornish rivers Tamar, Penryn and Fal See Cornish rivers from a local boat owner's perspective as John visits many of the easily explorable rivers from the Tamar in the east on the Devon border, to Europe's largest natural harbour in Falmouth at the mouth of the Rivers Penryn and Fal. Posted on 4 Jun 2017
Exploring Cornwall's Historic Coastline
John visits famous smuggling landmarks Cornwall's long expanse of rocky, virtually uninhabited coast made it ideal for smuggling. Tea, brandy, gin, rum and tobacco where all smuggled ashore onto lonely, windswept beaches to avoid customs men and to be sold for a fraction of their true price. Posted on 28 May 2017
Exploring Cornwall's Historic Coastline
John visits the legendary Isle of Ictus This episode reveals the county's early mining, which built many of Cornwall's harbours and trading links. John visits the legendary Isle of Ictus (now known as St. Michael's Mount) Porthleven and the harbour of Charlestown on his Princess 39 'Cecienne'. Posted on 21 May 2017