Cruiser Racing

Cruiser Racing, that great oxymoron. Surely you either go cruising or you go racing. Not so. Have you ever been sailing down the river or estuary, when you see another boat in front and start tweaking the sails to see if you can catch up? If so then you could well have the racing bug. It just needs developing.

How do I start racing?

If you want to dip your toe into racing then try the Montgomery Cruise in company which is definitely not a race. The next step would be the Medway Challenge as part of the Keelboat Regatta. Both are aimed squarely at cruisers who just use their white sails. No spinnakers or fancy brown or black sails unless you have an old gaffer! This would be a great introduction to Class 3, our “White Sails” class using the RYA’s NHC personal handicap system

What is the next step?

You might find the downwind legs a bit slow under just white sails, so you want the extra excitement of using a cruising chute or even a spinnaker to speed things up. This in turn leads to needing extra crew to handle the extra sails and you might even want to practice a bit. This would mean you move up to class 2, still using NHC.

Where does it end?

When the bug really bites and you get yourself a racing boat with fancy sails and a large crew to match you won’t like the personal handicap system so you fill in the forms and send a chunk of cash to the RORC and you have an IRC rating. You are now a bone fide racer and will be in class 1 using the IRC rating system.

Do I need a large crew?

It very much depends on how seriously you want to race. For white sails racing many people compete effectively with only 2 people on board. As you get more serious you need more and more people. The club has a Crew Finder Service on this web site that can help put you in contact with potential crew.

For more information email the Cruiser Racing Class Captain

Racing Season

Our racing season is from April to November and includes:

  • Spring Series – short series with committee boat starts
  • During the summer months we have a series of one day ‘Trophy Races’
  • For the less serious we have the annual Montgomery Race usually held in mid summer involving a simple course from the club to the infamous wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery and back to the club. Hitting the mark is not recommended. Results are worked out using the Class Captain’s secret formula.
  • Name of the River Challenge. This is less of a race, more of a pilotage exercise. You leave the Club Line to start whenever you like and have to pass named buoys on the river in any order, returning to the club to finish. Time your start to make the best use of the tide for your boat but you have to make sure there is enough water round all the buoys for your boat.
  • Medway Keel boat Regatta. 3 days of intense racing in conjunction with the one designs with committee boat starts and finishes 
  • Autumn Series – short series with committee boat starts.
    We end the year with this ever popular series – the biggest and best series on the East Coast in our opinion!
  • Wednesday Evening Series.
    During the long summer evenings we hold an informal “Allcomers” race series staring at 19:00 every Wednesday. A great excuse for a light hearted race to wind down after work followed by a meal and a drink in the clubhouse.
  • Full details of the race program can be downloaded from the documents in the class information section of this page.

Dates for Your Diary

16th, 23rd & 30th April

7th May

Spring Series

Run from the Club Line a 4 race series with all to count. If numbers allow there will be separate starts for each class.


24th, 31st May

7th, 14th, 21st, 28th May

5th, 12th, 19th, & 26th July

Wednesday Evening Race Series


Weekday evening race series, open to dinghies, keelboats and cruisers of 10 races with 6 to count.


26th – 29th May

Medway Keelboat Regatta

Three classes for Racers and Cruisers as well as the Medway Challenge Race on Friday for the less serious racer who just wants to do one race. Committee boat starts and finishes as well as the famous social events ashore. For more details see the Regatta page

The 2022 regatta was sailed in almost perfect conditions with only a short wait for the sea breeze to fill in on the first day. After that it was steady easterly breeze and bright sunshine most of the way.

The winner in class 1 (IRC) was Reefer X while Class 2 was won by Zephros and class 3 by Amberjack. Well done to all of them. The family trophy went to the Leeming Family in Toucan.

Date tba

Name of the River Challenge

Less of a race and more of a pilotage exercise. You start any time after the line opens at 10:00 and pass to the designated side of the named buoys in the river at least once. You can pass them in any order. For full details see the Sailing Instructions below. There will be a full briefing at 09:00

Bit embarrassing really. In 2022 we opened the event up to the one design classes and it was won by a Dragon. Well done to Edwin and Sue Hannant on “Gandalf” who proved they know the river better than anyone else.

19th – 20th August

EAORA Jane’s Cup & Thames Estuary Race


Jane’s Cup – Burnham to Medway YC, and Thames Estuary the return leg Medway to Burnham


10th, 23rd, 24th September 

7th, 8th, 22nd October

Burton Series


Series of races organised by Medway Cruiser Club, open to all.

Entry via the Medway Crusing Club Website


29th, October 

5th, 12th, 19th & 26th November

Autumn Series

Bring the season to a close with our open Autumn Series. Weather permitting the first race will be run from the club line and will take the fleet out into the Thames Estuary. The remaining four races will be in the river Medway and will be run from a Committee Boat. 

New for 2023

The NHC personal handicapping system with ratings adjusted after every race has not proved to be popular. As a result, the RYA, in conjunction with the RORC, is launching a new handicapping system for cruisers to replace NHC.

Called “Yacht Time Correction” (YTC), the new system is based on the one developed by a number of clubs in the South West. Like NHC the system is free, but unlike NHC there is no adjustment to handicaps after each race. It also issues two handicaps for each boat with and without a spinnaker so boats without spinnakers can race fairly against those that use them.

It is simplicity itself to obtain a handicap number you visit the web site here and fill out the online form. You will need to know basic dimensions of your boat and sail area. Most of this information for production boats is available online here. For those of you with something a bit rarer you may need to do some measuring. We can help with measurement if necessary.

For 2023 we intend to run all our races using this handicapping system only. We will split the fleet so that bigger faster boats can sail longer courses while smaller slower boats can still get back in time for the bar!

The RYA has just announced a “Soft Launch” of the new system for 2022 here so we will be running YTC results alongside IRC and NHC for this year’s Autumn Series if enough people obtain handicaps.


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Class Information