The Caribbean Sailing Association is a long established association that was created to promote amateur yacht racing throughout the Caribbean by developing a handicap rule that was easy to calculate and fair in its application. This rule has been developed in the Caribbean and is kept current with annual evaluation and upgrading. It was developed to encourage any sailboat, not just racers, to participate in yacht racing throughout the region.

The CSA racing rule is a measurement rule that uses various hull, keel, rudder, rigging, materials, sail area measurements and evaluations to create a handicap that regatta organizers can use to develop racing classes from all who enter.

To learn more about the history of the CSA, please go to our web site at www.caribbean-sailing.com for full details. This web site also lists all the CSA measurers throughout the Caribbean giving their names, addresses, phone, fax and email contact information. In addition, all the regattas throughout the region are listed to ease the planning of your racing schedule.

Please look for specific reports on:

“CSA Rule (current version)”
“Preparation of a Yacht for CSA Measurement”
“Optimizing your CSA Rating”
“CSA Minimum Safety Requirements”

plus many other articles are listed at www.caribbean-sailing.com for your guidance.

In brief, the CSA rating rule asks that a cruising yacht be measured in the condition that it plans to be raced. Racing sailboats are generally measured empty with the mainsail furled on the boom. All sailboats are measured in flat water. The vessel is inspected by the CSA measurer to determine the yacht’s measurements, characteristics and description.

Then with assistance from the owner or captain (and their dinghy) measurements are made of the hull, rig, quarter beam width and sails. If a signed sail maker’s measurement certificate is available, the sails do not have to be measured. Some measurements, such as draft, are taken from the builder’s specifications. Measurements take up to 2-4 hours depending on the size of the racing or cruising sailboat.

The information is then entered into the CSA computer program and a CSA rating certificate produced for the specific vessel. This is compared with the ratings of identical racing boats or similar racers in the CSA database. A full description of the CSA rating certificate is at the web site above.

The CSA measurement is valid for five years if there are no changes to the racing or cruising yacht. The measuring effort costs $5.00/foot plus $1.00 per foot for the CSA certificate fee.  Payment is requested at the time of inspection.

If there are no changes, the CSA rating certificate can be renewed annually based on the first year measurements. The annual renewal certificate costs $25 plus $1.00 per foot for the annual CSA certificate. Renewal is done on the request of the owner. Please contract your CSA measurer early in the racing season. Don’t wait until the day of the regatta, please.

If sails are changed, they must be measured or measurements from a sail loft may be used. If the vessel is modified, the vessel must be measured again. A new certificate is then issued using the new data in either instance. A vessel can be re-measured and a different CSA certificate issued, only two more times during a calendar year.

Since 2006 internet-based digital CSA certificates have been used. Each regatta will have access to each vessel’s certificate at time of registration. The race committee uses the “time correction factor” TCF to handicap the yacht’s elapsed time on the racecourse. The result is the yacht’s “corrected time” for each race.

Four TCF ratings can be generated by the CSA program. The first is labeled “jib” and is for a sailboat racing with only a jib and mainsail. The “pol” rating is for vessels using a pole to hold out the headsail on a jib and mainsail rig. The CSA rating labeled “Sec” is for jib and mainsail boats who want to use a second headsail downwind. Most racing boats will use the “spi” CSA rating that allows vessel to use a spinnaker in addition to jib and mainsail. The TCF ratings increase going from “jib” to “spi” ratings.

The measurements taken by the CSA Measurer are unique enough that the measurements used in the PHRF, IMS, IRC and other rating rules cannot be converted to the CSA rule.

Please contact your local CSA Measurer early in the calendar year so your racing sailboat can be measured and ready for the racing season. Ask your local measurer any questions you may have about the CSA rating rule. We are here to encourage yacht racing in the Caribbean.

Good fair racing to all.

Captain William Howe
CSA Measurer, US Virgin Islands
Phone/Fax 340-775-6081
Cell 340-514-5511