Stoneways VPRS – A racing partnership

Close up of the crew onboard Hope & Glory racing in the VPRS National Championships at the 2018 International Paint Poole Regatta. Photo courtesy of Ian Roman Photography

In early 2021, Stoneways Marine partnered with the rapidly growing VPRS Rating system for yacht racing, with a view to assist further expansion in the numbers of rated yachts using it to compete around the world.  The rating system has become widely known as Stoneways VPRS.

What is the Stoneways Marine VPRS rating System?

VPRS was originally created for club racers around Poole Harbour who were dissatisfied with the existing systems due to high costs and the alternative local “Poole Harbour Handicap System” (PHHS) not being effective enough.

“There was a requirement for a single rating system which was affordable and easy to use”

The creators of VPRS, Ruth Kelly (Marine surveyor & Engineer with particular interest in naval architecture and aero-hydrodynamics) and William Coburn (Software Engineer), decided that a velocity prediction programme (VPP) could provide the solution, with the potential to accommodate diverse fleets competing side by side.  The real challenge was to create one that worked using a conventional set of measurements, alleviating the need for a complete set of hull lines for each boat, thus reducing costs to participate.  The VPP also needed to calculate the boat’s potential performance in a range of wind conditions.   Research and development for VPRS commenced in 2008.

Fast forwarding to 2021, the extensively tested and actively used VPRS Rating system now enables ballasted monohull yachts including sports boats to race against one another on a level playing field, applying Time Correction Coefficients (TCCs), calculated by the VPP, to elapsed race times.

Poole Yacht Racing Association (PYRA) had such success with VPRS that it was adopted as the sole rating system.  The single system increased class sizes and removed artificial class boundaries. Scoring was simplified and better classes made the racing much more appealing. Other clubs in Poole started using VPRS and organising competitions between clubs became easier.

Today the vast majority of boats in Poole use VPRS. Interest has steadily spread with VPRS now being used in Chichester, The Solent, Weymouth and Plymouth.  Its use has also spread as far afield as Europe and South America.  At only £25 per year for any boat, VPRS is cost effective whilst maintaining the rating precision serious racers demand.

Close racing at the VPRS National Championships at the 2018 International Paint Poole Regatta. Photo courtesy of Ian Roman Photography
Racing at the VPRS National Championship at International Paint Poole Regatta 2018.  Photo courtesy of Ian Roman

For those new to yacht racing… what is a rating system?

Since the yacht America raced against the British yacht Aurora (half its size) around the Isle of Wight in 1851, and won by a country mile, there has been a need for a system which allows different types of boat to race fairly against one another.

Today, there are a number of rating systems available, such as IRC, which are all based on representing numerically the following key factors (amongst others) which affect boat performance:

  • The surface area of the hull, rudder and keel (the “wetted surface”)
  • The weight (displacement)
  • The sail area

Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, boats which use different rating systems cannot be compared to one another resulting in multiple small classes at regattas and in races.  This reduces the competitiveness & enjoyment for boats in each class, as well as increasing the admin burden for the race organisers!

Why sponsor the VPRS Rating System – a note from Stoneways Marine Director Keith Lovett.

“Being a member of PYRA and having raced QT, my Ecume de Mer and yachts before her in the local racing scene for many years, having an easy to use rating system which easily and affordably enables boat owners to get involved in the yacht racing community is a real bonus.

Since setting up Stoneways Marine in May 2020, both Will and I have been looking for ways to give back to our local sailing communities.  Sponsoring the VPRS system is a perfect way to help bring joy to the large racing community on the South Coast as well as further afield.  Not only does using VPRS mean that entering races is far simpler for seasoned sailors, but it also effectively helps to open up the racing scene to newcomers and those who may just want to race a few times each season.  Getting an expensive rating certificate was often a barrier that meant boat owners who wanted to enter one race to see if they liked it, wouldn’t do so.  Now for just £20 they can join in the fun and experience the thrill of competitive racing.  Most come back again and again.

By using the Stoneways Marine platform and voice, we hope to further spread the word about VPRS.  Selfishly because it means there will be even more races and regattas which I can take QT to, but also because it means racing becomes even more accessible and our community grows.”

To find out more about  Stoneways Marine VPRS, please visit:

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