SAiling with the WCA

The WCA organises a mix of social, fun, and competitive racing over the whole year. We aim to cater for every level of experience from those entering their first race to world champions. We have members who have circumnavigated the globe and others who know Lake Windermere like the back of their hand - a wealth of experience to draw on or challenge!


In the summer we run a full calendar of sailing events.  In the 2018 Summer Season these include:

  • Easter Sunday "1 can start".  Our season opener - Easter is very early in 2018 and not all members will have their boats in the water. Instead of a regatta we'll hold a fun race - essentially lots of starting practice, with a windward mark quite close and a downwind finish. We'll start as many races as we can in 100 or so minutes.
  • Inter-Club Regattas.  In previous years we've run a series of Sunday races with all clubs on Windermere. This had grown to be 12 or so races throughout the summer. This year we'll break that into four weekend regattas with a social event organised on the Saturday evening by the hosting club.
  • Marina Series.  Run in co-operation with the Windermere Marina Village (WMV), to provide a gentle introduction to racing for members of the WMV, as well as a separate series for WCA members.
  • Pursuit Series.  For this popular series, boats start at different times- slowest boat first.  Hopefully everyone finishes at the same time! Our social-secretary might even organise a raft-up after one as everyone finishes together.
  • Commodore's Weekend.  The highlight of the summer calendar wIth the emphasis firmly on fun & socialising.
  • Signature Challenge.  New in 2018, this WCA race series comprises 6 Sunday races over the summer. A little like the old inter-club format this is the WCA's signature friendly but competitive round-the-cans on a Sunday afternoon series.
  • Endurance Series.  A one-off longer race the week after mid-summer.


Our Summer racing is scored under CYCA handicap ratings. However to provide an "on ramp" for new boats in the Marina Series we use NHC. If you have a valid IRC certificate we will dual score you under IRC and CYCA.  If you don't have a CYCA rating we'll help you to get one - ask one of the committee. Similarly you can apply for IRC Ratings through the WCA's scheme. Read the "Brief Introduction to Handicaps & Ratings" for more info about NHC, CYCA, IRC, and how they relate to each other.


Most races start at 1330.  Following the races we meet up back in the Boathouse at the Windermere Marina Village for results and a casual drink.


In the Winter we run the Windermere Winter Series.  This is an IRC GBR Championhip event. We also hold One Design championships with the National Sonata Association and UK SB20 class associtation. We are hoping to add VxOne to this in the 2018-19 season. The winter series attracts top notch sailors from far and wide, and provides an opportunity to develop your racing skills matched against a broader range of experienced sailors.


If you are new to sailing on Windermere, then take a look at the wealth of guidance available on the downloads page.   If you want to find out more, then we are very happy to help – simply contact the Sailing Secretary or any member of the club.

Thinking of entering the wca summer series?

Sailors seem to universally agree that the more boats participating in a race the better and are very welcoming to new boats and sailors. Everyone has experienced the combination of fear and adrenalin that accompanies the decision to start racing. Nobody wants to bash either their boat or yours!


The WCA actively welcomes new participants. We run the Marina Series with the specific aim of providing a gentle format that is still a proper race. Some people worry about the start especially so for this series we offer two, the second being ideal while you build confidence. We also run a series of pursuit races. Pursuit races see the fleet all start at different times, with the fastest last, so they are a great way to build confidence.


If you haven't raced before but are interested in trying your hand you'll find guidance in our "First Timer's Hints & Tips" guide.

We also have a handy checklist of things to think about whether you're a beginner or an expert.

Whatever your experience level, to enter you should read the Notice of Race (NoR) then submit a Series Entry Form. You will find links to all the documents you need on the Summer Series page.

Have fun, stay safe, and see you on the water!

A brief Introduction to Handicaps & Ratings

A good way to understand handicaps is to think about the case when they're not needed - if all the boats racing are identical.

One Design Racing

Things are most simple when boats race against other boats of the same design. The Volvo Ocean Race and Clipper Round The World Race are examples of one-design races - the links take you to the specifications for the boats racing. One Design classes specify rules that owners must conform to in order to race and the position you cross the finish line in is your result. Some class associations strictly control what's allowed, and others are a little more relaxed and allow some leeway.

The wide variety of boats owned by WCA members, currently ranging from 19' to 45' with the average being 30', means that One-Design racing isn't an option apart from smaller sub-groups (e.g. Sonatas and Beneteau First 21s.)

Mixed-Fleet Racing

Some system is required though to enable everyone to race together. Factors that need to be considered include: -

  • Hull measurements: the hull speed of a displacement hull is directly related to its waterline length and boats with a longer waterline have a higher hull speed. Keel type. Rudder Type.
  • Engine details.
  • Sail measurements.
  • Sail wardrobes; some boats fly spinnakers and others don't.
  • Folding propellers.
  • Furling versus non=furled. Furling systems v other furling systems.
  • etc etc.

The variations possible with just this set of mixed-fleet factors is huge. The range of systems for combining them to come up with a handicap or rating is huge as well. Some publish the formulae they use and others don't, and while they all share the aim of providing a basis for fair mixed-fleet racing they also share the characteristic that none are perfect. A corollary is the universal past-time of grumbling about handicaps. This is unlikely to change - the August 1904 edition of Yachtsman magazine apparently observed that “handicapping at its best is far from satisfactory and it is seldom that one does not find a grumbler”. There's an etiquette to grumbling - we ALL prefer the good-natured, well-humoured, sporting type to the other. Purgatory may well be full of sailors who didn't like their club's handicap system(s)!

WCA races are scored using CYCA. We dual-score eligible boats under IRC. We only use NHC for WMV Marina Series entrants (WCA members are scored under CYCA). 

Both CYCA and IRC are ratings rather than handicaps: your boat's rating is based on the its measurements and it doesn't therefore alter from race to race. The CYCA scheme and the "IRC Rating Rule" are designed to enable different designs of keelboats to race together and don't make any allowance for differences in crews' capability or experience.

We understand that this can seem overwhelming at first, but you'll soon get used to it. In fact in no time at all you will have developed strong opinions about the rights and wrongs of the different schemes - arguing about grumbling about handicaps is after all an important part of social bonding in sail racing!

A brief Introduction to Protests & Protesting


To Protest or Not to Protest?


If you don't carry a red flag you can't protest so you may as well skip this - or better, make sure you have one! Sail racing is a self-policing sport and protests are important to its health - because they help people to understand the rules better and keep things fair for all.


During a race, sometimes there are incidents on the water.  The WCA encourages competitors to use these incidents as learning points to improve understanding of the Rules.


1. ‘Normal’ Incidents - Take your Penalty Turns on the Water

If you find yourself in the wrong, or suspect that you may have broken one of the rules, then it’s best to promptly take a penalty on the water.  Either a single turn (Rule 31 touching a mark) or a two turns (rules of Part 2 in an incident while racing)

[ISAF Rule 44]


2. Serious Incidents – Retire and Protest

If you are involved in an incident where there is either injury and/or serious damage, then you must retire.  This will then lead to a formal Protest.  See item 6 below.


3. Incidents where you agree that you were in the wrong, but were unable to take turns on the water

Here you agree to take an Exoneration Penalty.

This applies to ISAF Rule of Part 2 (where boats meet), or ISAF Rule 31 (touching a mark) or 42 (Propulsion).

Notify the race committee (the OOD or the Sailing Secretary) and state that you have broken one of the rules, and that you would like to accept a 20% scoring penalty.  This means that your place will go down by 20% of the number of starters, minimum 2 places.


4. Incidents that you would like to discuss and learn from

This is called an Advisory Hearing.

Sometimes, following an incident on the water, it is not clear what has happened.  In this case, whilst no protests would have been raised, it would be beneficial to discuss what has happened and to learn from it.

Notify the race committee (the OOD or the Sailing Secretary) and state that you would like to hold an Advisory Hearing.

We will then call the parties together for a discussion as to what has happened, and provide advice on interpretation of the Rules.

If, following the Advisory Hearing, you wish to take a penalty, then you can voluntarily take an Exoneration Penalty (20% scoring penalty).


5. Incidents where you would like a formal ruling, but not a full-blown Protest Committee

This is called RYA Arbritation.  It is not appropriate where there has been any injury or damage.

Notify the race committee (the OOD or the Sailing Secretary) and state that you would like to RYA Arbritation.

We will convene a formal hearing.  If the Hearing decides that a party should take an Exoneration Penalty, then it need not go to Protest, and any protesting boat can withdraw its protest.

[ISAF Rules Part 5]


6. Incidents where a Formal Protest is needed to Determine the Facts and come to a Formal Binding Decision

This is called a Protest Hearing.

This will be run iaw the guidelines provided in the ISAF Rules Appendix M.

[ISAF Rules Part 5 and Appendix M]


[NB: These are brief guidance notes.  The WCA SIs and World Sailing RRS take precedence]

Autumn Sailing Status:



Winter Series

postponed until
Jan - March 2021

(if restrictions are eased)



postponed until
March 2021

(if restrictions are eased)


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