The VNSC developed in the 90's a handicap system that gives all participants, irrrespective of their sailing skills, in a regatta a fair chance of winning. Without going into details about how a handicap is being calculated, the club average handicap is set at 100. Anybody with a handicap below 100 is sailing faster than the club average, and anybody with a handicap above 100 is sailing a bit slower than the club handicap. If, for instance, you have a handicap of 96, you are 4% faster than the average club handicap, and for instance 8% faster than somebody with a handicap of 104.
The handicap is applied to handicap regattas, like the monthly mug. Your finishing time is corrected with your handicap, for instance if you sailed your race in 50 minutes (=3000 seconds) and your handicap is 104, your actual finishing time is corrected as follows: 3000/104*100= 2884 seconds, or 48 minutes and 4 seconds. If a faster sailor, let's say with a handicap of 94, finished in 48 minutes, that is 2 minutes ahead of you, her time will be corrected as follows: 48*60 = 2880 seconds / 94*100 = 3064 seconds. So while you finished behind the faster sailor, you have still beaten her on handicap!
The VNSC handicap system is a great invention (by Gordon Bell) which makes sailing for all classes of sailors interesting and competitive.
For a detailed explanantion download the Powerpoint handicap presentation.