Getting more sailors on the water with an innovative Catch me if you can programme

Keen to avoid the word “racing” with all the connotations this can bring, the club has introduced a pursuit ‘event’ with a difference.

The Club had a number of aims through this programme, most prominently to encourage members to take part, but these included (a) a reason to go for a sail; (b) there would be individual start times; (c) the slowest boat would be capped at three hours; and (d) the aim was for all members to be back at a similar time, to enjoy socialising on the club lawn together!

Using a handicapping system which considered every craft sailed in the series, each boat was given a handicap, which meant that everything from a home-built gaffer to a 40 foot J120 performance craft could take part. The handicaps could then be adjusted to ensure that they were working correcting for future events. From this starting point, whoever finished in the lead would have their handicap adjusted, as would those that

finished a long way behind – with the aim being to get all the boats finishing close together.

As the emphasis is on ‘fun’, the club does not publish a result – instead, the ambition is to have a different winner each time – and, so far, the Club has been successful. The Club awards a glass to the winner that reads “They didn’t catch me” or “I caught them” – together with the best starter for each event.

To date, the Club has had 24 boat owners expressing an interest in taking part, and the Club has supported these owners to find crew. Each event has had 15+ boats take part and, for the four ‘events’ that have taken place so far, there have been four different winners. So far, the series has seen some interesting results – with a Halberg Rassy 31, sailing with two crew, only just being overtaken by a fully crewed IRC rated Dehler 34, and a close tussle between a Starlight 35 with cruising chute and a Dufour 34. The slowest boat has been a Leisure 27 and the fastest a J120.

The popularity of the series is increasing, and growing demand has seen club races converted into this format too. Over time, the Club’s hope is to encourage some owners to progress on to joining in both club and other East Coast races.

For more information about Royal Harwich Yacht Club visit or for more information about how to get out on the water in the East Region, visit


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