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Can we save Portsmouth handicap racing?

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3 hours ago, Tcatman said:

Again, a sweeping statement grounded in the FAIRNESS context.  ... The one design class racing simplifies the variables in the effort to enhance true competition.  A handicap class  reduces the complexity by racing similar type boats in the class to enhance true competition.   (Surprise surprise...). I argue that FAIRNESS is a terrible frame work  even in ONE DESIGN.   The class favors a certain weight range.... Is it sensible to discuss the FAIRNESS of this consequence of physics?.   The class sets a wind range.... Is it sensible to talk about the FAIRNESS to heavy sailors in the class when  RC's cancel racing at the top range.... given the variability in wind speed.   .... or the class members want to lower the wind range...    

Sure,   we want FAIRNESS in our games... BUT the bitch of it is that elements that make up the sailboat race game such as handicap ratings table or one design rules are not the same as fairness. 

Bottom line...Shift the context from FAIRNESS and look to Balance the actual factors to make for a Good Enough handicap game.  A debate about Fairness is a cul de sac  with NO good exit

The class favours a certain physique and certain skills. But that is sport. Make yourself the right shape and learn the correct skills. Or accept you're just not naturally made for that game. But, it is fair. 

Handicap racing measures sometimes unrelated skills against different populations. It is not fair. 

But you can't deflect the coversation away from that issue, because the fact us, it matters to a lot of people. 

But, equally there is a time and a place for enjoying a game, no matter how loaded the dice. 

 

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2 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

But you can't deflect the coversation away from that issue, because the fact us, it matters to a lot of people. 

I agree the notion of fairness matters to a lot of people... actually ALL of the people in the game.   BUT FAIRNESS is a bad framework for the game. 

I don't want to deflect consideration of a particular factor... I want to make sure the debate balances all of the factors that effect the calculated result.  I think your summary judgement... handicap is Not Fair..    or...  Handicap... just how loaded are the dice...   is simpleminded and wrong.    A parade of horribles of what COULD be errors is more of a bloody shirt then  a starting point for getting at the   "good enough"  for me spending my time and money in playing.

It is more useful for clubs and racers to bounce a concern up the chain to the handicappers running the system and have them analyze the issue for what the sailors believe leads to an error in the rating.  Usually the issue is overstated and  if not... it gets managed.   

so... for the next round... lets deal in specifics.... this boat versus that  boat in xxx rating.

(As to one design being FAIR....after all  you call that sport...... as a heavy weight... I would argue that its not FAIR to have events where the wind speed is less then 10 knots....   again.. Fair is in the eye of the beholder...  I picked an example that is out there... ... but it makes my point..  FAIR is not the context that helps here    another one... would be... one design... all boats compete at 190 lbs crew weight or more.... sailors add weight. to make the standard.... ergo FAIR racing....... nah... really just a bad context to use.)

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8 hours ago, Tcatman said:

I agree the notion of fairness matters to a lot of people... actually ALL of the people in the game.   BUT FAIRNESS is a bad framework for the game. 

Fairness isn't always the top priority to make competition fun. And I agree it can be arbitrary when talking about perceived fairness. But, whether the game is a true reflection of sporting competence really determines how 'fair' it is. But I'm not so far up my own arse that I don't realise that determining the ultimate competitor is not the primary concern of most local competition. People want to enjoy playing the game, often regardless of result. 

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I don't want to deflect consideration of a particular factor... I want to make sure the debate balances all of the factors that effect the calculated result.  I think your summary judgement... handicap is Not Fair..    or...  Handicap... just how loaded are the dice...   is simpleminded and wrong.    A parade of horribles of what COULD be errors is more of a bloody shirt then  a starting point for getting at the   "good enough"  for me spending my time and money in playing.

Issue 1) Different boat test different skills. How do you compare a Finn sailors muscular strength versus a 49er sailors agility and say X is better than Y? 

Issue 2) Handicaps (in the UK) are calculated from the nationwide average of each class from predominantly club racing. Any given boats result in a handicap race is only partly related to their performance that day. The weighting is then done against the average of boat y versus the average of boat x. But, it's unlikely that the average ability of those two classes is the same. Or even that the two classes are testing the same abilities at all (see issue 1). You then require a subjective committee at national or local level to make a judgement call on how that is managed in the output PY numbers. 

Issue 3) Development classes have the opportunity to improve their boat season to season and even within a series. They will always have the potential to be better than the performances from which their PY was calculated. 

Issue 4) relative performance varies across wind direction, wind strength and amount of manoeuvring. Usually accounting for minutes, or even tens of minutes compared to other boats. (e.g 49er versus Laser). 

Issue 5) Boats will be racing at different times. They experience different shifts and different strength wind. Not all sailors have the same opportunity to race the same race. 

Issue 6) Tide disproportionately affects slower boats

Issue 7) A slightly slower boat behind a fleet of slightly faster boats will do worse due to dirty air than faster boats relative to a fleet of slightly slower boats. 

Then there are consequential issues..

8) Some of the above balance out over a series of races... but what I find satisfying, and I think many others do, is seeing their effort rewarded in that days results. If they missed a shift or capsized they want to be lower down the fleet than when they didn't. If you can't directly relate your performance to your result then it makes it harder to learn. 

9) Many of the fleet tactics / management skills I associate with dinghy fleet racing are lost. It's becomes more of a time trial then directly trying to beat other boats. 

10) When boats are separated on the course you lose that nip and tuck racing feel which get the adrenaline flowing. Having to wait to you're back to the clubhouse, or even worse sometime in the week to see how you did kills the experience. 

So, there are many ways it is flawed as an experience (for me) and as a true measure of aptitude. Shifting those issues up to higher level to manage doesn't change them, or make them easier to manage. In fact, it often makes them harder to manage. Sure, it might be 'good enough' for some of the people some of the time. And it's certainly good enough to be fun. 

 

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It is more useful for clubs and racers to bounce a concern up the chain to the handicappers running the system and have them analyze the issue for what the sailors believe leads to an error in the rating.  Usually the issue is overstated and  if not... it gets managed.  

No, it's not. Because many of the issues above are local (size of fleets, tide, wind strength etc.). There is nothing a higher level body could tell you to make it better. And you'll never have enough data at  local level to tackle those issues analytically. And there are some that could never be tackled analytically anyway. So, it's best local fleet make adjustments to their numbers locally. If people get funny about the result, they're taking it too seriously. 

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so... for the next round... lets deal in specifics.... this boat versus that  boat in xxx rating.

I started racing an RS200 at my club, the handicap was 1106. It's a SMOD. The difference was previously the boat was raced by family's, and they couldn't get near any prizes, so the club bumped the number up. Myself and a few others started racing at the club as 20 years old with good crews and were doing well nationally. It's now 1048. The club elected to change the handicap to give sailors of different boats an equal shot at winning. Which is fine, and I was on the committee for some of those changes and didn't oppose them. I think the best way to do things is for local committees to set rating which the members are happy to race with. 

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(As to one design being FAIR....after all  you call that sport...... as a heavy weight... I would argue that its not FAIR to have events where the wind speed is less then 10 knots....   again..)

Meh, lose some weight... unfortunately that's sport. We're all just trying to do as well as we can with the DNA we were given. 

At a club level struggling for numbers do I want a competition that distinguishes between a finn sailor and an oppy sailors size? Probably not, I just want both out on the water enjoying sailing. But, there comes a point when the finn sailor will want to know who's the strongest, fittest finn sailor and testing himself in that regard is what he finds fun. At which point handicap racing is no longer going to satisfy him. 

So, in conclusion. I'd say handicap racing is great for getting people out on the water, going through the motions of fleet racing. Learning how to start, take shifts etc. in a semi-competitive nature. What matters isn't how fair or accurate, or precise the results are, but how much the participants enjoy it. The national body shouldn't dismiss this, and they could promote it. But their's really very little to gain from their direct involvement, you really need local consensus.  

But, proponents of handicap racing shouldn't dismiss it's flaws, or pretend they can be fixed. Because while handicap racing is inclusive in the short term, it doesn't take long from most to suss out what's happening and they'll yearn for truer competition. At which point you better hope there is still some class racing available. 

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So it seems 'fairness' can be just about anything you want it to be  then !!

So there is nothing wrong ( ...er 'unfair') with development classes throwing money at development, and gaining (arguably unfair) advantage ?  So there can be nothing unfair in anything else or alternative racing format by extension as you know what you getting involved with etc etc . 

So to complete the circular argument there can be nothing wrong with handicap racing either.  It is not only 'fair' because as just one individual you, he, or she 'say so' ....    You know the rules, format, implications in advance with handicap racing just as you do with other formats  ... and are not forced to participate.  Heck nobody is even trying to persuade the 'unconvinced'  so why do some still deride the 'fairness' of others ?  ... or is 'fairness' simply something 'we' pratice and is 'unfairness' something those  deluded 'others' just do ? ... You can't have it both ways.     :wacko: 

 

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2 hours ago, Blaze720 said:

So it seems 'fairness' can be just about anything you want it to be  then !!

So there is nothing wrong ( ...er 'unfair') with development classes throwing money at development, and gaining (arguably unfair) advantage ?  So there can be nothing unfair in anything else or alternative racing format by extension as you know what you getting involved with etc etc . 

So to complete the circular argument there can be nothing wrong with handicap racing either.  It is not only 'fair' because as just one individual you, he, or she 'say so' ....    You know the rules, format, implications in advance with handicap racing just as you do with other formats  ... and are not forced to participate.  Heck nobody is even trying to persuade the 'unconvinced'  so why do some still deride the 'fairness' of others ?  ... or is 'fairness' simply something 'we' pratice and is 'unfairness' something those  deluded 'others' just do ? ... You can't have it both ways.     :wacko: 

 

No, it seems you are defining fairness in any way you want. I qualified what I meant by fair as how 'true' the result is, or how level the playing field. You can chose a different word if you don't like that one. 

I agree when we sign up to handicap race we know our class rules, the handicaps proposed for the event and format. And if we don't want to race we don't have to. But, that doesn't mean each sailor has an equal chance of success, it just means they accept it. And it is that inequality of opportunity to be successful which is the fairness I am talking to.

The issue is, people maintain that the handicaps are fair, or accurate or precise. And the problem is when people sign up to these events they may assume that the ratings are fair and give everyone equal chance of winning. But, they soon get disenfranchised when they realise that isn't the case, you only have to look at these forums to see how many people are pissed about handicaps and ratings! 

But, by banging the drum and maintaining that it is fair, or equal or precise enough, then you're doing the sport a disservice. It would better to be frank and say, 'yeah, these ratings aren't correct, some boats will be favoured, but that's just how things are, it's just a bit of fun'. 

Regarding development classes, I don't sail any, and never have. I don't have the money nor skills to make the refinements. But that's life, it's not sports job to correct that. I just choose a game that doesn't involve those extra elements (SMOD). But, for some, designing, selecting and tweaking kit is a very enjoyable part of the game, and if that's what they like then I don't see it as unfair that they can create a game with rules to that effect. 

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21 minutes ago, Mozzy Sails said:

But, by banging the drum and maintaining that it is fair, or equal or precise enough, then you're doing the sport a disservice. It would better to be frank and say, 'yeah, these ratings aren't correct, some boats will be favoured, but that's just how things are, it's just a bit of fun'. 

So....the word  ENOUGH is the issue.   If its good enough.... its a level of competition that is good enough and IMO THAT IS what the sport needs... certainly NOT a disservice...

I agree... you don't white wash actual issues... BUT.... most punters can't fairly evaluate the details in the ratings process.... So... when the context is.. ... are the ratings FAIR>.... answer Yes or NO   it corrupts your sense of the game when its NO..     SHift the context to Good Enough...      When the context is "Good enough for what we are doing at this event"    your experience of the competition is quite different.      and as always... a bit  of reality check... "ps...  you are not an olympic sailor .... so the flubbed tack is more likely at fault... for your loss by 20 seconds in real time  and the evergreen notion.... " The pecking order.... IS the pecking order" ... it operates  across all classes so come to terms with it and play the game as you want.... no excuses!

Again,   in my opinion.... The problem is when you use  the context FAIR...... you are in a binary world... Fair or unfair.... But in sport... Unfair is the kiss of death.  I think that your spin... "say, 'yeah, these ratings aren't correct, some boats will be favored, but that's just how things are, it's just a bit of fun'"  so its not Fair.. but still fun  undermines it for many people....  when you add the element...  eh its rigged... people experience the competition game differently and they don't continue to play it.  (My core principle is that anything that undermines competition is the kiss of death.)

Do you have any other examples of an organized sport that would operate under    ... Yeah the game is rigged.... that's how things are... its' just a bit of fun??  I can't think of any off hand?

(he he... just for the heck of it.... what is your answer to ONE DESIGN..... all single handed dinghies will race at 185 lbs.... THAT is FAIR RACING.....I kind of liked that argument)

 

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Good enough for yourself is fine, it's when you start telling other people it's good enough for them.

"sure Malcolm, one week you smash Dave in his X-boat despite getting a terrible start and hitting a mark, but then the following week you lose despite sailing what you thought was perfect race. But don't worry about it, because you're not that good, you probably do crap tacks and really the system is fair enough for someone like you.'

I don't think the average sailor is as out of tune with the issues with handicap racing as you suggest. They may not be able to articulate them, but they will perceive them. The fact it's talked about so much is testament to this. 

Keep it as a light hearted way to get out on the water with like minded individuals and when people want truer competition direct them to class racing. 

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Life is too short for this sort of  thing – it is looking like an  indulgent or unnecessary diversion.  One where there will never be a ‘last word’ as long as people keep responding.

If you don’t want to take part in a particular format for any particular reason best known to yourself well that is just dandy  -  and if you do well I guess ditto.    Class racing is great .. alongside other alternative formats and they are not mutually exclusive.

‘Each to their own’ ... nuff said ?

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You both have fair points. I agree with the many that state US portsmouth regattas will live as is. Could it be better. Hell yes. Should it be better, Hell yes. Are we loosing participation because its not better? Hell yes. Long term, if it was better could it also improve OD participation.  OD competition is probably as good as it gets to even out the playing field but the U.S. OD crowd has some ideologues that greatly discourage any other form of sailing competition. All too often these "empty barrels make the most noise" drown out what we should have as the goal of increasing any participation in our sport. OD competition is not for everyone and the OD classes available in many areas do NOT satisfy the area sailors desires or needs.  By improving and supporting handicap racing US Sailing has the foundation to improve the overall picture here. Could an organization that does support your goals grow? Hell yes! my $.02

BTW, Development classes have improved our sport and are necessary to incorporate at least technology improvements. 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Mozzy Sails said:

ood enough for yourself is fine, it's when you start telling other people it's good enough for them.

Oof... I or a club is NOT telling them what to value....  I am saying that leadership take the position that the "XXX Handicap system we use is good enough to promote competition and is worth your time and money.    They don't say   it is   "FAIR or  Good enough for THEM"    these are two value laden frames that don't promote competition and encourage you to spend your time and money.....      I can't tell you what to VALUE.... hell....   as a large sailor in a light air venue.... I don't think its FAIR that we don't race with a min crew weight made up with lead....   Tis my sense of what is FAIR.... of course YMMV....  

So we agree... we can't tell them what to VALUE   (the "good enough for you"  point) and the corollary   We SHOULD NOT TELL THEM  its NOT FAIR  (or FAIR). 

35 minutes ago, Mozzy Sails said:

They may not be able to articulate them, but they will perceive them. The fact it's talked about so much is testament to this.  

SURE   and chance are that is a garbage in... garbage out kind of assessment.   I wager  95% sailors could not explain what Back Calculated Elapsed means.....therefore... how can they possibly evaluate the handicap rating elements   (In Time on Time handicap... BCE is the actual time you lost the race by given your specific boat and handicap {I am sure you know this] )   God forbid they look at the BC rating they would have had to use to actually match the winner.... 10 percent off the pace  is not evidence that the rating is buggered.... 

How many sailors racing one design can tell you the TIME DELTA between their boat and the identical boat just ahead of them....   GOD FORBID they compare their sailed rating relative to the first place boat in their class.   Time on Distance has another set of perceptions to manage.      So.... Time is linear.... one's perception of time is completely non linear  and on top of that.... BIASED.     So...   the fact it's talked about so much means nothing to me in this debate..... other then fuel for my point.... Don't use the context FAIR..... rather ... Its GOOD ENOUGH for Competition.

I have come to the conclusion over many years that the mistake we make is considering handicap and one design as two sides of the same coin and then make it worse with an uncritical assessment of what is of value in the game.    You described many  of the additional factors that make the two games different..  So, I agree ... Two unique  Coins here...  Moreover.....  What is of VALUE in either game is idiosyncratic and personal ... the one design game is often a function of where you stand.... eg...   I stand at 6'4 in a light air world with just a single single handed dinghy option.... So.... MAKE EM CARRY WEIGHT seems FAIR to me.      YMMV.

To save handicap racing (the big picture issue in this thread) ...  we need to shift the paradigm from Not Fair... deal with it (Fairness paradigm) .     to Good enough for competition (Competition paradigm) .   If you step back and look at the big picture... that is what individual handicap game tries to do.   further competition...  and they are just taking the tip from Golfing..    In these handicap games... the challenge is to beat YOURSELF..... However,   In our Standard Handicap game that you want to view as NOT FAIR (or sort of FAIR) ....   we make it a challenge of beating the bullshit that some elite clueless asshole called a fair rating table.... spittle!... aholes! and if not  for those assholes.. I would beat Harry fair and square)   You can't win  and you can't grow participation in competing in a sailboat race.... Hell... just go off by your self and go sailing.... Its a fabulous past time as well but not the point of sailboat racing as a game.

Final point... when Harry and I are splitting the difference on handicap wins..... We would agree that to settle this grudge match... we  change the game... pick the one design coin...  pick a one design class and look for a more precise measurement for who is the better sailor that day!  Finally.... if we still can't settle... it we sail one design at the same weight.... that will surely settle i!... in my little story... the paradigm is competition... NOT Fairness.

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35 minutes ago, Blaze720 said:

it is looking like an  indulgent or unnecessary diversion

Sorry to bore you... BUT as John D notes.... the big picture  ie thread title  is SAVE PORTSMOUTH HANDICAP....     Why because there are real issues and so the sport doesn't grow...  We should fix it... or change it..   

and the Bigger Picture is Save Handicap Racing... Why?  because if don't the sport won't grow.

Mozzy and I care enough to discuss what is at the core of the game.....  get this wrong and you are spinning your wheels...   my sense is that we have been spinning our wheels forever and so its worth a fresh look.    YMMV!   

(try not to run the game or take any leadership roles  in your area tho  ...  probably not much of a worry since you are clear its  about you and what you want!)

 

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In my very limited view of rules. The Portsmouth is the only say to go and its "saving" will never be necessary. Young people use the rates to judge speed when buying or thinking about buying, or racing, as I did. 

The ratings are based on individual OD rules, so when the gun goes off, a swab can just go for broke...thing is subtle, "go-fasts" usually are set to put all in a class on same footing; having said that, if one enters an event with unsanctioned gear, c'est la vie.

Example, years back, actually decades, I sailed a 110. I added two Hexaratchets (to replace the snubber on the bridgedeck, so I could sail it alone in a breeze, and a trapeze...which I did not use alone. The changes were not acceptable to 110 org in Mich. The Hexes alone were enough for disqualification, though eventually accepted...such a drag...! 

However, if I entered to boat in a Portsmouth event, I would use all the gear...and you know what? They would not make much of a difference between the 110 and, say, a C-boat or 1/4 tonner...

The only thing wrong with Portsmouth to me is the time it takes to get a rate.

Of course, I like it simple.  

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Aha! BobBill struck what I think is the only real problem with the US Portsmouth Handicap system: getting boats listed and current.

Most of us will just race with whatever rating is listed. But there are several boats spread across the country that are active, have been around for a while, but not on the list. It took 'forever' to have a Weta listing. Aero? Melges 14? Raider Turbo?

Also, some boats have become faster. Back in the day Darlene Hobock ran things. Together we changed the Suicide Development boat from the low 90s to low 80s to get it in line with the modern boat. At the HPDO a few years back a modern Intenational 14 won by a massive amount. It had the handicap listing of a 1960s boat. Fixed now. Foiling Moth? Take a look at the Moth handicap on the listing.

Yes, clubs don't turn in times of their races. But cannot there be a wise, sailing experienced committee to make decisions. We do so for the Florida Mug Race. Just make the best informed guess and go with it. Everybody just enjoys the racing.

Dave Ellis

 

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18 hours ago, Tcatman said:

To save handicap racing (the big picture issue in this thread) ...  we need to shift the paradigm from Not Fair... deal with it (Fairness paradigm) .     to Good enough for competition (Competition paradigm) .   If you step back and look at the big picture... that is what individual handicap game tries to do.   further competition...  and they are just taking the tip from Golfing..    In these handicap games... the challenge is to beat YOURSELF..... However,   In our Standard Handicap game that you want to view as NOT FAIR (or sort of FAIR) ....   we make it a challenge of beating the bullshit that some elite clueless asshole called a fair rating table.... spittle!... aholes! and if not  for those assholes.. I would beat Harry fair and square)   You can't win  and you can't grow participation in competing in a sailboat race.... Hell... just go off by your self and go sailing.... Its a fabulous past time as well but not the point of sailboat racing as a game.

Personal handicap numbers are the way forward and I much prefer them.  I've run the system within class racing at my club, but it works fine between different types of boats as well.  

Whilst, when still using different boats you have issues around sailing time, current and wind speed, but it totally cuts out all the rubbish about the result identifying the best sailor and all the impact on your results from those sailing on different waters with different skill levels in different boats. It also seems to focus more on self improvement rather than declaring you are better than someone else according to some bizarre analytic. I wish is was the de-facto handicapping system at club level. 

Edited by Mozzy Sails

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2 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

Personal handicap numbers are the way forward and I much prefer them.

You are probably spot on here.... It would seem that you are at least 20 years ahead of us  in the states...   I have no experience and worse... I know of no clubs that implement any form of personal handicap.    Personal Handicap within a one design class... would be a hell of a start...

 

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3 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

it totally cuts out all the rubbish about the result identifying the best sailor and all the impact on your results from those sailing on different waters with different skill levels in different boats.

We seem to agree on the big picture.... at the core of our debate about how to do this....Essentially we focus on the elements of competition that sailors are looking for

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18 hours ago, sailwriter said:

We do so for the Florida Mug Race.

Dave.... your club should take a cue from history...... Before US Sailing Portsmouth... it was the Dixie Portsmouth table.

Before US Sailing Portsmouth.... it was  NAMSA  for multihulls.

the Dutchies created a mulithull handicap table for  a single race around an island ... that was widely adopted..   aka Texel.  

SCHRS  was created by sailors before adoption by ISAF/World Sailing

RYA portsmouth is fundamentally different then US Sailing portsmouth...

The rank and file sailor won't care about the nuts and bolts behind the table... Just publish your table...   Keep the word portsmouth in the name because that is the only term USA sailors recognize and own it.      It will cost you some a page on your club's website.  Publish the link and the club world will gladly adopt it.

The Florida Mug Race Portsmouth Table

QED!

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10 hours ago, Tcatman said:

Dave.... your club should take a cue from history...... Before US Sailing Portsmouth... it was the Dixie Portsmouth table.

Before US Sailing Portsmouth.... it was  NAMSA  for multihulls.

the Dutchies created a mulithull handicap table for  a single race around an island ... that was widely adopted..   aka Texel.  

SCHRS  was created by sailors before adoption by ISAF/World Sailing

RYA portsmouth is fundamentally different then US Sailing portsmouth...

The rank and file sailor won't care about the nuts and bolts behind the table... Just publish your table...   Keep the word portsmouth in the name because that is the only term USA sailors recognize and own it.      It will cost you some a page on your club's website.  Publish the link and the club world will gladly adopt it.

The Florida Mug Race Portsmouth Table

QED!

Sadly, I'm so old I remember all these handicaps. Alex Kozlov gave me a handicap for my strange tri under the Pacific handicap system in 1970. 

The Mug race has many kinds of craft each year. They keep their own records. I'm just an uninterested outsider, so can be objective.

Uh, may have messed up the uninterested part, since I won the Mug race on handicap last year.  oops

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Wow, thread came alive. Can't say I read every word. I am glad to see what kickstarted it this year was some reporting of multidesign racing. I did find out how to submit results but the request says wind speeds taken several times and at the marks. Our club is not that competitive to take that much data. I would still like to try. We use the yardstick for fun. Not using the wind adjusted numbers is a mistake, especially for us, usually a Thistle or two in the fleet, PN83 across the board. Our fleet ranges from Star, to Daysailer. Our best race pros use spinnaker adjustments, crew number adjustments, trapeze adjustments (for my C-15). We are getting some new boats that are unlisted in the tables. Fixed keel precision 185, Aero 9, Aero 7, Beneteau 21. We can make do with some custom numbers, but would be nice to keep the official indexes alive. That is why I asked.

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Definitions of fair seem to depend on peoples own prejudices...

The thing that's been interesting me is to puzzle out why class racing is so unpopular. 

Any forum, club bar, whatever, people will tell you that handicap racing is a lottery, or unfair or whatever, and  class racing is fairer, much more fun etc etc.

But anyone who's been involve with club management, at least in the UK,  will tell you that class racing fleets are only put together with the greatest of difficulty, and fall apart as soon as the individuals who put them together take their eye off the ball. Its easy to get a few boats of a class rang together for a season or two, but after that it gets harder and harder.

If class racing where genuinely as popular as everyone says it should be then it ought to be the other way round, and the rich would get richer, class fleets once established would carry on of their own momentum. It seems as if, whatever people say, when it comes to actually putting their hands in their pockets, folk hardly value class racing at all.

 

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Class captains make club fleets.

No active class captain finding boats and putting them in peoples hands then likely things fall back on run what you brung.

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3 hours ago, JimC said:

Definitions of fair seem to depend on peoples own prejudices...

The thing that's been interesting me is to puzzle out why class racing is so unpopular. 

Any forum, club bar, whatever, people will tell you that handicap racing is a lottery, or unfair or whatever, and  class racing is fairer, much more fun etc etc.

But anyone who's been involve with club management, at least in the UK,  will tell you that class racing fleets are only put together with the greatest of difficulty, and fall apart as soon as the individuals who put them together take their eye off the ball. Its easy to get a few boats of a class rang together for a season or two, but after that it gets harder and harder.

If class racing where genuinely as popular as everyone says it should be then it ought to be the other way round, and the rich would get richer, class fleets once established would carry on of their own momentum. It seems as if, whatever people say, when it comes to actually putting their hands in their pockets, folk hardly value class racing at all.

 


People may prefer class racing but there are so many classes that if the club allows any class to sail then you end up with a large number of classes each with only a small number of boats. If club members really want class racing then they need to agree that the club will only allow a very small number of classes and stick to that rule.

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30 minutes ago, tillerman said:


...they need to agree that the club will only allow a very small number of classes and stick to that rule.

But why don't they all pile into the class with the greatest numbers and stick with it? Why do they have to be forced into a particular class? Why is it so hard to maintain fleets? Why doesn't the biggest class mushroom until no-one sails anything else?

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31 minutes ago, JimC said:

But why don't they all pile into the class with the greatest numbers and stick with it? Why do they have to be forced into a particular class? Why is it so hard to maintain fleets? Why doesn't the biggest class mushroom until no-one sails anything else?


Because idiots like me get it into their heads that it would be fun to start a new class at the club instead of sailing one of the current accepted classes. It's actually pretty easy to persuade a few other people to follow the idiot and sail the new class. People like novelty. I started a Laser fleet at a club in the early 2000s. It was going well for a while but it died out after I left the club.  
 

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3 hours ago, tillerman said:

It was going well for a while but it died out after I left the club.  

This is exactly my point... If people actually valued class racing above other factors a class would reach a critical mass, and then it would snowball of its own momentum. But instead it seems to require constant effort to keep a fleet going. Aren't you effectively saying that people value novelty above class racing?

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I think it's just basic entropy. It's far easier to break down to chaos than create or preserve order. 

More practically you just need one person to break from the class, then once one person is racing on handicap you all are.

Mostly it's for good reasons: size, skills, age, crew. And often they have the intention or hope of drawing new people to the class with them. But often that doesn't work out. And others have their own ideas of what the new class should be. 

I think there are some who get tired of the pecking order and want to give the board a flip, either by changing the class for everyone or introducing the randomness of handicaps. 

It's a balancing act between being inclusuve, offering a range of craft to suit preferences and size, allowing a place for new technology to be adopted but without dismantling the game which many find most rewarding.

Perhaps some overestimate the impact that the type of boat has on how fun the game is.   

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Mozzy,

How's that idea you have meld with

"It's easier to prevent a problem than try to fix after it becomes apparent?" 

Simple, is best...may be most difficult to explain, like truth, but immensely practical, like sailing! IMO.

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One design is about Fair Competition.  ummmm sure... 

You have to understand what you mean by Fair and  Competition....   before you even get to defining one design... and then HONOR in a sport with no referee.... so consider Competition

People face competition in all walks of life and develop a complex relationship with the win or lose nature of competition and how it relates to survival. Hell, you compete for your mothers tit from moment one...   In, our culture,  sport is about an idealized form of competition ...   We are taught that unlike the rest of life... competition in sport is about FAIR Competition and the goal is to win and this is FUN and not .. not a matter of survival.    (Mozzy and I debated this point about the FAIRNESS context (frame or paradigm or mindset... whatever) with respect to Handicap racing competition.  YMMV about our views.

With respect to competition...  Tis why the elite athletes use sports psychologists to help each individual identify and manage their personal orientation to competition/survival  that will affect their performance in the game.   Now as complex a thing this individual job is... FLEET Sailboat racing requires an even more sophisticated understanding of competition and humans.

I recommend Stuart Walkers book on competition.    He distinguishes the difference between Sailing....(pastime or adventure  or messing around on boats) from Sailboat RACING....  In his view... Racing is about the idealized competition of sport and FLEET sailboat racing has unique challenges to manage....

For Stuart....ANYTHING that undermines competition will be the kiss of death and bleed away competitors at all levels of the fleet.   So... he thought handicap racing was a complete bastardization of what is needed for the idealized competition game...   Likewise personal handicaps..... undermine his notion of the core elements of sailboat racing competition.   (Stuart was man vs man..CRUSH... the bitterness of defeat will drive you to the next mano o mano CRUSH conflict..... and then have a beer at the bar with said enemy) . He was (RIP) a true true believer in one design fleets AND the idea that the club should LIMIT those Fleets to further One design..... (See his Club Severn Sailing Assn in Annapolis)

Having said this...   He spends the rest of his book discussing the necessary ways to MANAGE the competition within the FLEET.    I sum his book up using his words...   If you don't worry about the last member in your fleet's pecking order.... you will soon have a NEW last member to worry about.  Specifically.... the One design class has a pecking order... by definition... this is a slowly changing rank order....  and that is the beauty and the problem according to Stuart..  Without fleet management... (FAR more extensive then the Fleet Captain role just discussed)... an individual will get bored or find that the form of competition on offer by the laser fleet in XYZ club does not meet their ideal notion and their needs and they bleed away.

4 hours ago, JimC said:

But why don't they all pile into the class with the greatest numbers and stick with it? Why do they have to be forced into a particular class? Why is it so hard to maintain fleets? Why doesn't the biggest class mushroom until no-one sails anything else? 

Well you noted from my debate with Mozy the notion of FAIRNESS is complicated and idiosyncratic....  So to are peoples notion of Competition....  and worse... what they expect to get out of competition is also changing or not really formed.  So the pecking order is a huge factor... and since it CHANGES SLOWLY OVER TIME...   Your ability to battle your way up the pecking order  (the essence of FAIR COMPETITION)   is slow.... you don't grow your personal performance in the obvious way  of marching up the  pecking order... Moreover,   there is no positive  churn in the game... so its the same ol same old faces and then fewer faces....  You can't even get a measure of satisfaction in beating a new guy...  Couple this with a culture where coaching and drills are not the norm and ...

4 hours ago, tillerman said:

People like novelty.

you get lots of competitors who  play in the class for a year or two and then don't get what they need in this game and move on.... OR.... you get competitors looking for new challenges... (eg New competitors to challenge)... or a new set of skills to learn... (eg Foiling mulithulls)  or just a new boat to learn...(eg switch classes)  

So in my opinion... it is  BS THAT IS ALL THAT WE NEED Is ONE DESIGN ... the only FAIR COMPETITION.   We don't examine either notion Fair or Competition and so the game we run has limited appeal.   Bottom line snarky answer...  humans are f'd up and can't play competitive games with others without their ego getting in the way so they churn through the sport and it spirals downward.... so hey... what do you expect us to do?

Since that is a useless answer... I think there are some structural changes we could make..  Unlike Stuart... I think you want to give people a better method to guage their performance growth  apart from the pecking order.  For instance, you could take finish times in one design races.... you may always finish third....... but you can get an objective measure of your growth in performance....  I think the Personal Handicap answer can work.  Handicap is essential for the competitors who value something Novel... and Development classes for the guys who like the bleeding edge...   AND whatever fleet.... I think you have to do all of the other things Stuart talked about.  these are not novel things... they get brought up in threads all the time... but they do require work.... auto pilot won't work... 

So... to answer the question... why so hard... because it is HARD TO MANAGE  competition....  No silver bullets... Stuart's book talks about what worked for his world. (Solings post olymics)   All have value and expand the role of fleet captain dramatically..

The other half of the equation is the competitors themselves...   they have to understand their role of the competitors within the fleet... what is their responsibility to the GAME.

Our current model worked ok when lots of people in the 50s took up the elite country club pastime of sailing...   the Kennedy effect was huge....  This model works great when there is a net influx of new competitors... ..   since the world changed from the post war era.. to now.... MAYBE.... the new reality requires a rethink about how you run the game.

In most of life's competition... you don't want the competitor to continue to play.. you want them to go away...   In a sailboat class... You, the competitor, now have to take responsibility for keeping all the competitors coming back to play....  If you win./survive...   great... nobody around to see you stand alone on top of the podium.  (how many people blow off the awards ceremony)     So... when you get feedback... like... OH... they wanted wind speeds recorded at the weather mark... well our club won't do that....    its a problem.  When the competitors in the fleet ACT like they do in the rest of their lives...  the natural result of competition is to reduce it... and the numbers of sailors will go away....   

Hey... being human is a complicated thing.... god forbid they try to play a game... with out examining Fair, Competition, Honor and self policing...

Bottom line... Manage the Competition....   Minimize the FAIRNESS issue and Emphasize... Good enough for competition.    (My viewpoint is definitely a minority view  point)

Describing this scene as just entropy is just that a description with a not helpful thermodynamic basis.

 (waiting for the silly answer from bobbill.... about it just being simple....  umm  uh huh!   care to make an argument in support of this trope)

 

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5 hours ago, Mozzy Sails said:

Perhaps some overestimate the impact that the type of boat has on how fun the game is.   

You could be right.. but it's not always so.

I sailed a Laser for over 30 years, had been the local Laser district secretary, and sailed many regattas locally plus several Laser Masters Worlds, several Caribbean Midwinters in Cabarete etc. etc. I was having a good time but I couldn't resist looking at more modern single handers which were launched, and wondering if they would be more fun. Then when the RS Aero came out a few years ago I tried it out, decided it would be more fun than the Laser, and persuaded a couple of friends to join me in buying Aeros. Our home club ran the first RS Aero regatta in the north-east US, and only a few weeks later I sailed in the RS Aero NAs at the Gorge with over 20 boats.

Since then we have developed an RS Aero regatta circuit in New England, I have been back to the Gorge to sail RS Aeros, sailed an RS Aero regatta on Lake Garda, sailed a few Aero regattas in Florida in the winter, and am part of a growing RS Aero frostbite fleet locally. There is more than enough RS Aero one design racing going on locally, nationally and internationally to keep me happy... and the list of regattas just keeps on growing every year and so does the size of the Aero fleets at those regattas.

So for me, the new game is more fun than the old game... partly because I find the Aero a more exciting boat to sail than the Laser, and partly because being part of the start-up of a new class has in itself been an exciting and rewarding experience. But I admit I wouldn't be so positive about the change if the only Aero owners in the north-east were still just me and my two buddies. 

Bottom line, the idiot who decides he wants to sail something different from whatever everybody else sails at the club is only an idiot if his new class doesn't take off.

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44 minutes ago, tillerman said:

But I admit I wouldn't be so positive about the change if the only Aero owners in the north-east were still just me and my two buddies. 

Could be worse.... You could be all that is left of a class that started to get momentum in an area and then cratered.... (See Bristol A cats)  Single handed classes are worth analyzing because lots of factors can be eliminated while you are trying to ID critical factors to success or failure.

Isn't the language interesting....   "idiot"   got you charged up.... Visionary.... or Iconclast or Individual or Cheap Bastard (Hobie 14 fans) would likely not have fired you up....   Same kind of charge as using the word FAIR or NOT FAIR when describing One design or handicap racing......   Maybe...  Passing on the judgements is more productive!.

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11 hours ago, tillerman said:

But I admit I wouldn't be so positive about the change if the only Aero owners in the north-east were still just me and my two buddies. ..

That's all good. However may I make the observation that you are yet to reach the hurdle that seems to me to trip so many class introductions in the UK. That is the retirement of the original enthusiasts and the passing of the baton to the next "generation". Its a common problem. We see the accusation made that the baby boom generation will not pass on to the next, but my own observation is that most often they would love to, but cannot work out how to get anyone to take on the responsibility. But maybe we are getting too far from the original point.

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Your a sailor, you get in the boat and the rest matters not, meaning the boat makes no difference once the motion begins...or commotion...

Amazing that so many like to pick at how many angels there are on a pin...who cares?

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25 minutes ago, BobBill said:

...who cares?

 I think if you look critically at this forum then the answer is "nearly everyone". Of the current 10 threads at the top in DA, at least 8 are to do with class choices. How many are to do with course configuration for example?

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14 hours ago, Tcatman said:

Isn't the language interesting....   "idiot"   got you charged up.... Visionary.... or Iconclast or Individual or Cheap Bastard (Hobie 14 fans) would likely not have fired you up....   Same kind of charge as using the word FAIR or NOT FAIR when describing One design or handicap racing......   Maybe...  Passing on the judgements is more productive!.

Pretty sure I was the first to use the word "idiot" on this thread - to describe myself - some irony and self-deprecatory humor intended. I am way too modest to describe myself as a visionary or iconoclast. I'm just a contrarian who got tired of following the herd.

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59 minutes ago, tillerman said:

Pretty sure I was the first to use the word "idiot" on this thread - to describe myself

Ha... been there done that... self described... just as yourself with my contrarian boat choices...  Just saying that our culture of One Design yeah!!!.. Handicap booo!!!  creates the context where.... you and I would hoist the flag... "Idiot" or Contrarian trying to play in this game while we are looking for like minded sailors....     But.... when you have a collective action problem.... we need to be aware of the language and communication. 

The big picture is creating the max fun factor  with a minimum of  10 other like minded ____________ sailors week in and week out at the starting line.   Not a trivial problem AND as Jim C notes....   Sustainability or passing the baton off is not a trivial problem either. 

But OK... not a worthwhile issue from bobbills point of view... All is well!   (care to explain???)

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