UKCRA was set up in 2001 to fill any gaps left between catamaran class associations, sailing clubs, national and international sailing authorities.
The key areas of UKCRA activity have been:
UKCRA played a prominent role in lobbying for the return of catamaran sailing as an Olympic event. Its then Chairman Nick Dewhirst, sadly since deceased, compiled a comprehensive report. He proved that thorough factual research and hard work could have a significant impact. We now have a catamaran in both the 2016 and 2020 Olympics – the Nacra 17.
UKCRA recognises that one design class racing is the fairest test of sailing skill. But in practice most racing is done on handicap, both at club level and for long distance racing. A good handicapping system is critical to increasing participation and broadening the base of cat sailing.
In the UK we have two main handicapping systems.
1. SCHRS for cat on cat racing. SCHRS handicaps are based on simple measurements, principally length, weight and sail area. The great advantage is that the system is objective. There is little room for opinion and there is no penalty for good design or high caliber sailors. Handicap numbers can be quickly generated for the 250 catamaran classes and variants sailed worldwide, and new designs can be assigned a handicap in their very first race. The system is recognized by ISAF and enjoys widespread international support.
2. The Portsmouth Yardstick system is a performance based system run by the RYA based on statistical returns of race results from sailing clubs. It allows catamarans to race against monohulls, and can include any craft where there is sufficient data. Unfortunately cat participation in PY events has been low and as a result only 9 cat classes have PY numbers. UKCRA is keen to increase participation and is encouraging clubs to improve the number of returns for cat classes by using dual scoring systems.
UKCRA promotes co-operation between the two systems to produce better racing for all cat sailors. A PY conversion factor of 675 has been agreed, based on best fit regression analysis. SCHRS x 675 = PY lookalike.
Major challenges for both systems are created by the advent of foiling. An international moth is about as fast as a Topper dinghy in low riding mode, but faster than a Formula 18 cat once foiling in the right conditions.
All cat classes have a common interest in nurturing youth cat sailing, without which their classes will die. UKCRA members have taken several initiatives in this area:
1. Junior training: Lee Harrison co-ordinates this. UKCRA owns 6 Dart 16s which are circulated from club to club (currently Marconi SC and Bala SC) where youngsters are encouraged to try them. Junior catamaran championships are held in Dart 16s.
2. Youth training: Tim Johnson co-ordinates this. The RYA recognised youth catamaran is the Spitfire. All training and competitions are sailed in Spitfires. Each year the top crew selected for the ISAF championships switches to an SL16 a few months before each World Championship, and with support from the RYA UK results have been strong.
UKCRA has ambitions to acquire a fleet of fourteen foot Topper CX catamarans to further promote junior sailing activities. It also needs to raise funds to refurbish the Dart 16s, which have been used extensively since they were gifted to UKCRA by the RYA.
Every year clubs and classes publish dates for their major events and there are conflicts. UKCRA plays a role in trying to resolve these where it can. Major all classes events attended by UKCRA members include:
Eurocat, (Carnac late April)
Solent Slog (Weston SC, early June)
Solent Forts (Hayling Ferry SC, early June)
Ronde om Texel (Holland, late June)
East Coast Piers Race (Marconi SC, early July)
Kent Forts Race (Whitstable SC, September)
Grafham Cat open (Grafham Water SC, late October)
Weston Cat open (Weston SC, early November)
The centrepiece for this activity is the RYA Dinghy Show, held annually at Alexandra Palace on the first weekend in March. UKCRA encourages all catamaran classes to participate with co-located stands, and in 2014 UKCRA ran its own stand to demonstrate three levels of cat sailing –
a Topper 14 CX for juniors,
a Spitfire for youth sailors and
a Nacra 17 for Olympic aspirants
UKCRA also co-ordinates enquiries from potential new cat sailors – retiring Topper, Mirror or 29er sailors are especially welcome. We have regional co-ordinators who are all knowledgeable and well connected. They will help link you up to the people and club that best suits your location and experience.
The regional co-ordinators are:
South East –David Boniface
Eastern England – Paul Mines
South West – Brian Phipps
South Coast – Grant Piggott
North West – Don Findlay
Scotland and North England – Mark Homer
Finally UKCRA understands the importance of manufacturers, sail makers, sailing holiday companies and other commercial firms in introducing people to catamaran sailing. It hugely values their expertise and support. It will continue to work with them to raise participation in catamaran sailing.
UKCRA have a fleet of Dart 16s available for charter by UK sailing clubs and association to promote catamaran sailing in the UK.
UKCRA is passionate about catamaran sailing!
Any clubs or associations that are keen to be involved in the UKCRA Charter Program should contact:
Cookie Phipps (Treasurer)