I sail a Flying Fifteen where there is a very clearly defined and popular “Open / Silver / Classic” fleet system based on boat age / design. This works for that class because there has been clear development of the hull performance over the years, so each fleet basically sails off a different PY number for a handicap trophy, as a separate set of results to the main “open” fleet prize.
The problem with this approach is that you can’t really rank W’s by age, as a well sorted MK1 woodie can actually be faster than a later boat.
So is there any way of clearly ranking the performance of different marks of boat?
If not, then the only way to split the boats up is on the ability of the crews, which is an entirely different thing. Perhaps you could have a “novice” class comprising crews who have not entered any major or open events prior to the current season (or perhaps longer), an “Intermediates” class where the crew has yet to achieve an agreed performance ranking (eg top 20% of nationals, top 5 in an open meeting etc), and a “masters” class for those that have?
Would that work? Clearly the criteria for each class would need to be carefully juggled to get the required numbers for each.