Two's company

Louay Habib interviews Cathy Crawley, Racing Secretary for the RSYC, about their highly successful Double Handed events

Double handed racing at Royal Southampton Yacht Club is characterised by great craic on and off the water. It's 30 years since Neil Cox of Solent Rigging organised the first Double Handed racing at RSYC. Since then, the series has continued without a break and grown in popularity to quite extra-ordinary levels, with as many as 140 boats competing at events organized between April and October.

"The Royal Southampton Yacht Club offers highly tactical and challenging contest for two-handed crews." Explains Cathy Crawley. "One of the main reasons for the popularity is quite simply crew numbers. Being only two-handed, the issue for boat owners and skippers having to find, perhaps twelve crew for each race, just doesn't arise.

We've also found that Double Handed crews mix far more after racing. There are prize givings after each event and they are sociable occasions and perpetuate the spirit of friendly, sporting competition. The format of RSYC's Double Handed Series has been embraced by husband and wife teams and we see a good number of these taking part.


The standard of racing is good too and with a broad spectrum of entrants there is competition for everyone, from club level up to ‘keen racer' across four IRC and multi-hulls classes. The varied mix of competitive inshore and offshore races in 2011 includes around the cans in the Solent, overnight racing to the West Country, France and the Channel Isles and the ever popular draw of rounding the Isle of Wight. Held every July, this is one of the toughest challenges of the double-handed calendar. In 2010, over 140 competing yachts challenged for a new trophy put up by sponsors Molson Coors for the yacht able to beat the course records: The monohull record time set in 2009 by Concise, a Class 40, is 5h58m38s and the multihull record, set in 1996, is 4h44m29s. The Solent Spring Double early in the racing season blows away the cobwebs and sees up to 80 boats in five classes, braving fickle April conditions.

Every two years, the Club organizes a double handed race from the Solent to Hondarribia, in the heart of the Basque country, some 540 miles. This is RSYC's longest Double Handed race and is open to IRC, Class 40 and MOCRA Multihull classes. There has also been a steady growth in short handed racing at National and International levels, which has also engendered interest."


2010 Double Handed Prize Giving. Main Series class IRC One winners
Strait Dealer (J125), Kevin Downer and Timothy Eccles

Cathy Crawley explains why the RSYC use the IRC measurement system.

"IRC offers the most professional system allowing a wide range of boats to race fairly against each other.  With in excess of 7000 boats, encompassing 25 countries the IRC rating system has to be respected.  We are seeing more and more IRC rated boats enter the Double Handed series and owners' choice to obtain an IRC rating, reflects in their trust in the fairness of the system. 

RSYC Double-Handed Schedule


The first race of the season for the main and inshore series. Three or four hours passage race in the Solent.


Spring Double


A one-day regatta for double handed crews in the central Solent. One round the cans, followed by one longer passage race.

WEYMOUTH DOUBLE 28th - 30th April

The first event of the offshore series and the only event that combines two races. There is time to relax in Weymouth between races and at the prize giving at the Royal Dorset YC.


Weymouth Double


The only cross-channel event in this series. This popular race starts in the central Solent.


Always the most popular Inshore event, regularly attracting more than 120 boats. A Circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight.


The longest and the last of the 2011 Offshore Series over the August Bank Holiday can be challenging but a great welcome is assured and there is the opportunity to carry on cruising the West Country.

NAB TOWER DOUBLE - 17th September

About 30 miles from the central Solent to the leaning tower of Nab and back, part of the Inshore Series.


A passage race of about four hours and the final race of both the main and inshore series.

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