Handicapping has to be one of the most contentious issues in yacht racing, and is often a cause of confusion, even among seasoned competitors. At its essence, handicapping is about fairness, and it’s our goal to provide the fairest racing for all competitors. Here’s how we do that:

Independent handicapper

To set initial handicaps, we use an independent handicapper who is not part of the organising committee at Bay of Islands Sailing Week, to ensure impartiality.

Setting of initial handicap

This is typically decided based on equal parts:

  • Assessment of boat design
  • Rating from RaceTrack
  • Aggregate of results from BOISW from the previous three years.

Of course, if a boat has not done BOISW before, or has very little RaceTrack data, this has to be adjusted.

The basic objective though is to base the initial handicap on one part what the boat design is capable of, one part all the boat’s race performances from the prior two years, and one part prior race performance in BOISW.  This is varied only where there’s good reason, e.g. ownership changes, major boat modifications, etc.

Handicap adjustments

After the first race, an algorithm from TopYacht is applied to each boat’s handicap. This takes the current handicap and adjusts it by 1/3 or 1/4 that number, and the handicap TopYacht calculates the boat sailed to in that race.  For example, if a boat had a handicap of 0.75, and in race 1 sailed to a handicap of 0.72, a 1/3 adjustment would change the general handicap from 0.75 down to 0.74.

Manual reviews are also carried out, particularly after day 1, to alter any boat that appears to be seriously wrong. But the objective is to have all initial handicaps close enough such that manual intervention isn’t necessary.

Handicap concerns

Our race management team will always endeavour not to be abrupt with competitors who have concerns about their handicap. But please be aware – our handicapping approach will not be altered for any competitor. It remains an individual competitor’s choice to enter, and by entering BOISW you are deemed to have accepted the handicapping approach and policy we have in place.