Divisions are usually defined to denote starts for staggered start races attempting to group boats with similar speeds in each start. You could have a Sportsman's Division, Cruising Division etc. Divisions are often broken into classes
. J24 is a "one design" class. One design as noted sets rules to make the boats identical in terms of the rules. "Cruising boat' could be a class. This could be any boat that fits the class definition. i.e. it may define the need to have, berths, water
system and "the sails
normally used for cruising" (can't bring race sails
The different handicapping systems allow boats of different designs to race "on par" - IRC is a pretty stringent set of classes and IRC A is usually a "premier" or prestige class where the big boys play.
For Regattas they will have several definitions of winning.
Place on water
- pure fastest boat there type stuff.
Class position - First in IRCA or first in cruising boats
- Some regattas will limit the classes competing. It would be rude to the rich guy if a Westsail 32 won the transpac overall champion because he has an awesome handicap. Regattas like to attract the rich guys.
So your Westail could have been 4th overall and maybe first in class but 40th on the water.
A common rating system because there are such a large number of boats is PY (Portsmouth Yardstick) In a perfoect world clubs send their regatta
data in and it continues to add to the database. Because boats perform differently in different condidionts some race committees will modify PY handicaps say if the regatta conditions are on average much stranger or much weaker.
Portsmouth Yardstick | US Sailing
We did King's Cup in a Charter
boat. We were in the cruising boat division, charter
boat class. That is there were enough charter boats in the regatta for us to make up a whole class. In general committees would need 9 boats of similar pedigree to make a class. Although in the cruising division I think there was a "classic" class that had 3 boats. Sort of everyone got a trophy there - LOL...