The Rygged Start

(Red  Yellow Green  Go)

Do you need to spice up your club yacht racing?

Newcomers to the sport always finishing last?

Do you get bored with the same members winning time after time? 

Then this system could well be the answer.

Follow the details below, and introduce a personal handicapping system which is designed to encourage beginners, and put a bit of excitement back into club racing.

Let's start with the problem.

Experienced "model yachters" tend to forget that to a newcomer, model yacht racing can appear a pretty daunting experience to say the least.  This can be particularly true at the start of a race, when anarchy and overcrowding readily overwhelms the beginner.  As a result, the "fall-out" rate of newcomers can be very high. 

To overcome this problem the Lee Valley Model Yacht Club introduced a personal handicapping system, "The Rigged Start" that was designed to solve the problem.

  1. Relieve the beginner of the pressures of a crowded start line, until such time as they are sufficiently experienced to cope.

  2. Give encouragement, by enabling some early wins.

  3. Eliminate the beginners habit of hanging around well behind the start line in order to avoid close contact with other yachts.


 Now the solution.   The Rygged Start (Red/Yellow/Green/Go)

Every skipper shall be given a personal handicap based on their past performance.  Newcomers will automatically be given a full handicap when they join the club, unless they have belonged another club, and have proven ability.

The handicap given to them will indicate the number of seconds advantage at the beginning of any particular race.

Table 1

Handicap colour Handicap advantage
Red 30 seconds
Yellow 20 seconds
Green 10 seconds
No Colour Scratch


Each skipper who has previously been given a handicap is obliged to carry a coloured TELL-TALE on the BACK STAY of their yacht.  Any yacht not displaying one is expected to start at the proper time.

Yachts with a RED handicap are allowed to cross the start line on the 30 second count on the start tape. The Race Officer will announce "Reds away".  

Yachts with a YELLOW handicap are allowed to cross the start line on the 20 second count on the start tape.  The Race Officer will announce "Yellows away"

Yachts with a Green handicap are allowed to cross the start line on the 10 second count on the start tape.  The Race Office will announce "Greens away".              

When a skipper has won "X" number of races (see table below) in a days sailing, they will be moved down one colour.  An outright days sailing will also result in the lowering of the handicap by one colour.

Table 2

Numbers of races in session No of wins "X" achieved will mean change down one colour 
0 - 5 2
6 - 9 3
10 + 4


Once a skipper has moved down a colour, they cannot be moved back.

Tell-Tales can be provided  by the Race Officer.  Any promotions for skippers from one colour to another can also be announced by the Race Officer.  Introducing this system can be implemented in a number of ways.  You could for example start by giving all skippers a RED handicap.  This can lead to an interesting and exciting seasons racing as skippers sort themselves out into their real ability levels.  Another benefit of the system is the way in which beginners are gradually introduced to close quarter racing.  This occurs as the faster skippers catch them up and try to overhaul them.  The advantages gained by this system is fixed in terms of time, but the relative benefit will depend on the length of the races i.e. a 20 second advantage is more beneficial on a race lasting 10 minutes than a race lasting 15 minutes.  The times suggested have worked over a long trial period and should not be changed.  This system has the benefit of naturally sorting itself out, so long as the club aims for reasonably consistent race lengths throughout the season.    

Reproduced by kind permission of Lee Valley MYC

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