UKCRA was set up in 2001 to bring together the diverse catamaran classes and address matters of common interest such as:
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. Catamarans were dropped from the 2012 Olympics, but following the campaign the mixed crew Nacra 17 catamaran was introduced for the 2016 Olympics and is now established as a challenging and photogenic Olympic class.
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 handicapping systems which work well together.
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 World Sailing 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 PU can only provide handicaps for the catamaran classes for which it has sufficient statistical evidence, but through a simple arithmetic link to “PY Lookalikes” generated by SCHRS it can include all 250 catamaran variants. SCHRS widens the scope of PY and PY statistical evidence can be used to help validate the SCHRS formula.
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.
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 Forts (Hayling Ferry SC, early June)
Ronde om Texel (Holland, late June)
East Coast Piers Race (Marconi SC)
Kent Forts Race (Whitstable SC)
Grafham Cat open (Grafham Water SC, late October)
Weston Cat open (Weston SC, early November)