Each time you sail in a points race you are competing for three or perhaps four prizes simultaneously:

The Handicap Cup
The Class Cups (Big Boats and Little Boats)
The Polly Prize
The Strand Senior Salver

The scoring systems for the Handicap Cup and the Class Cups are the same: three points for a win; two for coming second; and one for coming third. If there are fewer than three boats in a race or in a class, then the winner gets two points or one point according to the number of relevant starters. In the Polly Prize you get one point for competing and an additional point for every boat you beat (so the winner gets as many points as there are qualifying competitors). If you are a Polly qualifier but retire, you get half a point. The score, in all Cups, is attached to the boat rather than to the helmsman.

The Officer of the Day times every lap (or the whole race for C or D courses) and the Master of Sums then adjusts the actual time (either for the whole race or the average lap time according to the Burton Rules, see below) by three types of handicap factors. These reflect, amongst other things, the inherent speed of the particular class of boat, but a different factor is used for each Prize as follows.

The Handicap Cup
The aim of the Handicap Cup is to give keen sailors with less experience a chance to compete on even terms with their more skilful rivals.

The handicap is changed for each race according to how well you did in the last one. If you come first, second or third your Strand Yardstick handicap (see below) decreases, making it harder for you to win next time. In a race with three or more starters your handicap goes down by four if you win, by three if you come second, and by two if you come third. If you fail to score (that is, you don’t come in the first three or if you start but retire) your handicap is increased by one. If there are fewer than three boats the penalty is decreased accordingly, so in a two boat race the winner’s handicap goes down by three and that of the runner-up by two.

When a new boat/helmsman starts at Strand the boat is given a standard handicap according to the type of dinghy (Laser, Enterprise etc.) related to the Portsmouth Yardstick, or Portsmouth Number (PN). This is called the Strand Yardstick (SY) (see below).

At the start of each season the handicaps of regular boats are adjusted so that their starting handicap reflects how well they did in the past season but does not put them at too great an advantage or disadvantage over new boats. The difference between the finishing handicap and the standard handicap is halved. Arbitrary, but it works.

The Class Cups
There are two Class Cups: one for Big Boats (PN greater than 1120) and one for Little Boats. The handicap used is the Strand Yardstick, which stays unchanged throughout the season.

The Polly Prize
The Polly Prize was instigated by Olly Taylor (Commodore 1958-60) on a Portsmouth Yardstick, so that Strand would have a prize comparable with the norm of other clubs (PY + Olly = POLLY). It was also intended to encourage boats to sail with additional crews. Two-handed boats that were sailed solo were disqualified up to 2016, since when a penalty system has been devised which decreases the PN handicap of such boats for the Polly Prize but allows them to qualify.

The Strand Senior Salver
This was first presented by (almost) Founder member Paul Williamson in 1998 to helms who are aged sixty five or over. The winner is the qualifying helm that has the lowest aggregate position in the three points series.

Best of fourteen
At the end of the season your accumulated points for each prize are adjusted to include only the best fourteen results in each series. The aim is to encourage people to sail as often as possible but to prevent the prizes going exclusively to those who can attend every Sunday. There are, on average, 28 points races during the season so that, in effect, boats are expected to be able to sail every other week.

The Burton Rules
Instead of trying to predict how many laps can be completed in an hour on the A and B courses, we all sail around the buoys for about an hour and calculate the results on the average lap time. John Burton (Commodore 1983-84) devised this system which saves a lot of guesswork and frustration.

The recommended procedure is for the OOD to finish the leading boat on crossing the line after about one hour and then finish all other boats as they cross the line regardless of how many laps they have completed. The OOD keeps a record of the number of laps for each boat.

Strand Yardstick
The Strand Yardstick (SY) is related to the Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) or Number (PN). The SY was in use at Strand before the PN came into use and is expressed in a different form from the PN. The practical difference is that an increase in your SY makes it easier to win, whereas an increase in your PN makes it more difficult. But the SY is easier to adjust on a race-by race basis for the Handicap Cup.

The PY is a number such as 1113 (for an Enterprise) that is used to calculate a percentage of the ‘real’ time as follows:

Real time x 1000/PY = adjusted time
eg. 60mins x 1000/1113 = 53.9mins

The SY on the other hand, is a number such as 5 (for an Enterprise) that is also used to calculate a percentage, but as follows:

Real time x (100 – SY)/100 = adjusted time
eg. 60mins x (100-5)/100 = 60mins x 0.95 = 57mins


Handicap Cup: First prize: Silver Cup; Second prize: Silver Cup; Third prize: mug
Class Cup, Big Boats: First prize: Silver Cup; Second prize: mug
Class Cup, Little Boats: First prize: Silver Cup; Second prize: mug
Polly Prize: First prize: Silver Boat; Second prize: mug; Third prize: mug
Strand Senior Salver First Prize: Silver Salver
Junior Trophy First Prize: Trophy
First Race: First prize: Pewter tankard
Waterloo Cup: First prize: Pewter tankard
Long Distance Race: First prize: Medal
Last Race: First prize: Pewter tankard
Ladies Plate: First prize: Plate (presented by commodore) plus silver trophy
Second prize: mug; Third prize: mug
Paul’s Prize for Persistence: Trophy given by Paul Williamson and awarded to the helm who has sailed most and yet not won a prize.

HJB 10-03-2017