Foundation: The Forth Yacht Clubs Association was formed in 1969 by the clubs on the Forth to coordinate activities, represent their interests and promote sailing on the Estuary. The burgee adopted for the association depicts the river as it narrows at the Forth Rail and Road bridges.

Scope & Communication: There are currently 23 member organisations ranging from Grangemouth to Dunbar & Anstruther. Their interests vary widely and it is the aim of the association to offer broad support, representing clubs in matters concerning sailing activities, navigation, environment, coastal protection and safety. The FYCA liaises with RYA (Scotland), Forth Ports, Forth Navigation, HM Coastguard, Scottish Canals and the Forth Estuary Forum, and engages with local councils and the Scottish Government. The FYCA regularly distributes a list of current Forth area sailing secretaries, also sent to RYA (Scotland) and Forth Ports so that Notices to Mariners are emailed directly to clubs. The association’s website at makes its information easily available.

Sailing Directions: The FYCA first published a Pilot Handbook for the area in 1974, with updated editions in 1986, 2000, 2009 & 2011. The association has now contracted responsibility for publication & marketing to Imray and the new East Coast of Scotland Sailing Directions, compiled & edited by the FYCA’s Andy Carnduff, was released in 2023. This comprehensively covers the Scottish coast line from the River Tweed to Duncansby Head, incorporating material from The Yachtsman’s Pilot for the area by Martin Lawrence.

Tide Data & Calendar: Since 2014 the FYCA has annually purchased UKHO Leith tide data for distribution to member clubs and arranged publication licenses so tide tables can be included in club handbooks. ‘Neptune Tide’ software is used by the association to generate tidal information for clubs to plan racing and cruising events. Drafts of the FYCA open events calendar are circulated well ahead of the season to encourage clubs to avoid clashes with each other’s events.

Safety Regulations: The FYCA and its member clubs have a ‘Duty of Care’ to ensure there are appropriate safety standards for yacht racing. The original simple list of safety gear was superseded in 2004 by the FYCA Safety Regulations for Yachts, based on ORC (Offshore Racing Council) advice on construction & equipment standards. Category 4 covers longer day-time races, where competitors may be out of sight of each other and the race organisers, while Category 4R is a reduced set of mandated requirements for inshore, limited area events such as regattas. The association recognised that some yacht designs, particularly older ones, might not comply fully with ORC requirements and modification could conflict with class rules or simply be too expensive. There is provision for owners or clubs to apply to the FYCA Safety Committee for exemption from specific regulations. Such exemptions, including any conditional restrictions, are included in an appendix to the Safety Regulations.

Yacht Handicaps: Since the association was founded, most yacht racing on the Forth has been in handicap classes, using the RYA Portsmouth Yardstick system, and an FYCA Handicap Committee was set up to allocate fair handicaps. Since 1996 an FYCA Excel spreadsheet has been available for clubs to assess races using the RYA-YR2 procedure, calculating the SCT (Standard Corrected Time) and each boat’s achieved performance. The Handicap Committee currently has a database of over 45,000 performance records from more than 1300 yachts to support its decisions. The advent of lightweight yacht designs that can sustain hydrodynamic planing (e.g. Melges 24, Cork 1720 & RS-K6), became an issue when racing against conventional displacement yachts. With the RORC Rating Office’s help, the Handicap Committee created a Sportsboat Class Definition in 2009 to differentiate between ‘High Performance’ and more conventional sportsboats. In 2014 Restricted Sail (RS) rule guidance was published for clubs to encourage less experienced or short-handed crews to race with no spinnaker, under a modified handicap. To promote closer competition, the Handicap Committee introduced a ‘Progressive Handicap’ system in 2016 that shifts a yacht from its ‘Baseline Handicap’ towards a value that partially reflects its Crew Skill Factor, based on achieved performance data.

Yacht Racing: In 1973, as interest in inter-club yacht racing grew, the FYCA initiated the FIG (Forth Inshore Group – daytime races) and FOG (Forth Offshore Group – overnight races) series. These were originally single class events but, as larger yachts appeared in the 1990s, they were separated into Div-1 & Div-2 classes for fairer competition. By 2001, participation in the FOG series of longer distance over-night events, such as the Bell Rock race, no longer justified running it and the series was dropped. The FIG series remained well supported, peaking at 12 events per season. However, participating numbers fell gradually, with fewer visitor yachts. The number of events in the FIG series was reduced but, by 2018, it was replaced by the Forth Series, a mix of regattas and longer races. This ran until the Covid-19 pandemic when most racing activity was put on hold in 2020 and only recovered slowly in 2021. As of 2024, the Forth Series has not yet been resurrected, although more regattas and open races are appearing in the FYCA calendar.

East Coast Sailing Week: Following the success of the Royal Tay YC centenary event in 1985, the FYCA joined with the Tay and North East of England clubs to set up East Coast Sailing Week in 1987. This event circulated between the areas on a 3-year cycle and was well supported, peaking at over 100 entrants on the Forth in 1995, when it was generously sponsored by BP Grangemouth. However, interest in week long sailing events was waning, as also seen at Scottish Series and West Highland Week, and ECSW visitor numbers declined steadily from 2000. In 2007 the Forth & NE England clubs shifted to a 4-day event, with multiple races each day. Since support for ECSW on the Forth remained high, a 2/4-year cycle was adopted from 2015; on the Forth every 2nd year and alternating between the other areas on intermediate years. But the downward trend continued and there were no visiting yachts at ECSW on the Forth in 2017. The organising areas subsequently agreed that, after 31 years, the event should be closed down.

Race Marks: The FYCA has a set of inflatable race marks, ground tackle and alternative mooring line lengths for hire to member clubs running major events. It is maintained by the FYCA’s Marks Bosun and stored in a compact trailer that can be towed to the race venue. The advantage for clubs is the guarantee that the set of equipment, the association’s only physical asset, is always complete and in good condition.

Revised Constitution: No FYCA meetings were held in 2020-2022 during the Covid-19 pandemic, although contact list updates, tide data distribution, handicap reviews, etc. continued. Before restarting, the opportunity was taken to review the FYCA Constitution and simplify the organisation. A Special Delegates Meeting in June 2023 approved the revised Constitution, opening up membership to ‘other water-sports related clubs’, reducing the FYCA Executive from 10 to 7 members, replacing two Delegate Meetings per year with one Annual General Meeting, and making each club’s sailing secretary their nominated delegate and point of contact. Provision was included for member clubs to apply for grants from the association’s reserves that were no longer required to fund pilot-book publication or cover potential ECSW losses. Membership subscription fees, related to club size, were also reduced so that the FYCA’s income better matches its anticipated expenditure.
Jim Scott – FYCA Secretary – March 2024