Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bollocks to Handicap Racing

99% of the racing I do is one-design Laser racing. Identical boats (or as near identical as is humanly possible) so the only variable is the nut on the end of the tiller. I never really developed any enthusiasm for handicap racing with its arbitrary fudge factors that never seem to be totally fair. I've entered handicap regattas and won them a couple of times, but even then I never felt the same satisfaction that comes from winning a one-design regatta.

If handicap races are a bit of a lottery for established classes, how much more weird is it when one of the entrants is a new or radically changed design that nobody has a clue how to handicap fairly? This is the situation currently with the foiling Moths that we have all been oohing and aahing at on YouTube videos lately.

2006 Moth World Champion Simon Payne has a post today on his blog, Handicap Racing, in which he tells a sad tale about Moth handicaps in the UK. Apparently for many years he had "skilfully managed his handicap" at Hayling Island Sailing Club (whatever that means) in anticipation of winning the "Big One" the Glynn Charles pursuit race one year. Apparently the winner receives a holiday for two from Neilson which only added to Simon's hunger for the win. (I must write another post some time on the whole question of high value prizes for small boat races and whether it's a good thing ot not.)

Anyway Simon's cunning plan has been thwarted because, "Graham Vials and Jason Belben have thoughtlessly put a nail in the coffin that is the Moth handicap with a couple of recent race wins". In other words other sailors have proved that a foiler is fast and the handicap has been adjusted to be more fair. Poor Simon.

Vials and Belben were actually first and fourth across the line in the 240 boat Boody Mary pursuit race at Queen Mary SC near London back in January. But Vials wasn't recognized as the official winner of this prestigious event because his boat didn't have a handicap number recognized by the Royal Yachting Association. Bloody right too.

However my old friends at Rutland Sailing Club are not as stuffy as the Queen Mary lot and they gave Vials a nominal handicap of 800 for his Bladerider in the recent John Merricks Tiger Trophy at Rutland. Graham promptly went out and won the event. There is an article on SailJuice Blog, Flying Tiger, the gist of which is that although Payne races off 690 now at Hayling Island, 800 was a fair handicap for Vials in the conditions at Rutland, and Vials really deserved to win the event.

I still don't get it. As Simon Payne says in his story about this whole mess, "Bollocks to handicap racing."

3 comments:

yochris77 said...

Bloody Oath. I was a guesser on a boat that won a big blue water event (on handicap). Although it was a great ride and a great result it was a hollow victory as our fudge factor was fudged up! Not only that, but different boats of different spedds are racing in different conditions. Hardly sport ing is it?

Now I race in a development class and do a little bit of Laser'ing.

One-design is the real racing.

Tillerman said...

What is a guesser? That sounds like a job even I could do?

yochris77 said...

Guesser .... Naviguesser .... Navigator.

Sorry ;)

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