You’ve come to the right place! We’re going to assume you DO know how to sail, and perhaps you’ve tried racing a time or two on Other People’s Boats (OPBs). But now you are ready to try taking your boat out to the starting line.



Figure out what’s around you. Most likely there is a fleet already racing. Ask people on the dock, who are preparing to race what club they are racing under, or what club or association is hosting the races. 99 to 1 they will be happy to engage you in conversation and give you full contact info.

“Clubs” will be private Yacht Clubs that have a formal initiation, dues structure, and might even have a waiting list in order to apply for membership. For the beginning racer, a better bet might be to look for a local sailing or yacht association.

“Associations” are usually broader based “organizing authorities” for local sailboat racing comprised of boats from both clubs and individual racers who do not necessarily belong to a “yacht club.” Associations typically have reasonably priced membership fees, and allow you to participate in weeknight racing and some weekend racing (depending on the organization and what kinds of weekend racing they host).

Unless you see a bunch of boats that look amazingly like yours headed out to the race course, (those would be One Design) you are going to need a handicap rating. There are some “rating” options now on the Chesapeake. 

For most weekend racing, almost without exception, you will need to send an application to PHRF of the Chesapeake, along with a check for 25 dollars, to get a “valid rating certificate” for PHRF racing. Click for more about PHRF: HERE

For bay racing on the Chesapeake,  in other words CBYRA races, you can also race in a class called CRCA, the Chesapeake Racer Cruiser Association. This typically is for cruising boats, e.g., boats that do not have minimal or stripped-out interiors, but instead may carry all the creature comforts of yachting (e.g., air-conditioning, full galleys, and even sport a bimini or two).  This class can assign a free “ARC” class rating for up to 2 races. If you decide you like racing in CRCA events, then you are encouraged to head over to the Offshore Racing Rule website and apply for an ORR-Ez rating at:

Once you get a rating certificate, you should get in touch with your local association’s race officer (usually you can find this on-line) and get your boat registered for racing. Fees are usually in the $65 – $100 range, depending on the association.


Become acquainted with sailing rules and regulations. The Racing Rules of Sailing are available on-line. Visit the WORLD SAILING and download the PDF file (link HERE).


Still a little nervous about racing? Contact some of our folks on the CBYRA MENTOR LIST. These are experienced racers who will calmly get you through the starting sequence, mark rounding and the rest of the course. We won’t guarantee you’ll win, but you will have fun and learn a lot. We can promise you one thing: we will not hook you up with screamers!


Once you’ve paid for your handicap rating certificate and paid the association/club rules, you are pretty much good to go, at least for weeknight racing. But we’d love it if you joined CBYRA, too.

Organizing, scheduling and providing resources for racing on the Chesapeake takes up an enormous amount of volunteer hours, not to mention significant cash outlays. We only have one, part time, employee and the rest of us put in tremendous amounts of time so that boats can play on the bay. We need to be able to maintain an office, buy awards, host events and keep the lights and heat on. So please go HERE and join!


Once you’ve become totally addicted to racing, or even as a beginner, you should consider joining USSailing. They do a tremendous amount for sailors in the U.S.A. and you can learn tons more about what they do HERE.

A word about sail numbers…

If you bought a used boat that someone may have raced, it probably has sail numbers. These large numbers, sometimes accompanied by letters, are on your main sail, headsails and spinnaker (they should all match). If there are no numbers, visit our SAIL NUMBER ASSIGNMENT page for more information and registration. CBYRA keeps track of and assigns sail numbers.

Feel free to contact CBYRA if you have any questions!

• office staff:

• president:

• other officers contact info: HERE