PHRF as a Handicap vs a Rating...

mccroc

Anarchist
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330
Sydney
Aren't they all flawed in some way, and you should really decide what the aim of the race/series is ?

Are you looking to reward absolute performance, money, fleet size, consistent attendance, improvement, every one wins one etc.

Some boats can afford 4 jibs, some struggle to get 50% constant crew, some cruisers will go 10+% faster for an individual race with good crew, some turn up in all winds and conditions etc, some the same two boats win every race, and so the fleet gets smaller every year.
Of course they are all flawed, but in the end it comes down to what your entrants want, and expect. For basic club racing, a PHS adjusted handicap keeps people interested and mostly happy. If they buy a new sail, their handicap goes up, if they have three horror races in a row, it will go down, but they won't win the series.

"Reward" is not generally seen as the only criteria for entry. Any boat has a good day if it beats the boat it wants to beat.

As I said above, a yacht that sails well, consistently, is the one that will be vying for the series win. However, if it suddenly, in one race, has an absolute blinder, its handicap change can be limited, and vice versa when they have a shocker. meaning it is not as easy to cheat the system.

But if you don't have enough of the yachts that are happy to race every week, without new sails etc, then the series don't last. 

And then with IRC or ORC etc, if your yacht isn't favoured, it doesn't matter how hard to try, you will never win.

 

The Q

Super Anarchist
I've raced at several clubs which use both a RYA PY or equivalent for most races and trophies.. Then every so often have a race, often a pursuit race, in which the handicap is based on the boats average performance for the other races.

 That gives  the good sailors a chance to win and occasionally those not so good, to win something..

 

George Hackett

Super Anarchist
Rating system that reward poor performance does not help sailors get better.  And if whoever is running this circus has a bad day or just hates you, well, you will never get the break these systems think they can give you.  But due to widespread use, it seems a lot of you like being screwed over. So why try to change it? Just enjoy! 

 

peterwan

New member
25
1
Check out vprs.org. Good compromise £20 annual rating fee totally transparent and free to download any boats certificate to self police boats submitted data. A light version of ORC.

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,328
573
Myrtle Beach,
In my 50+ years of club and regional level racing, I've had results from DFL to winning occasionally and even was club boat of the year a few years back due to consistency and entering enough events to pile up the points. Local fleets from Lake Ontario, New England, SFBay and now Myrtle Beach,  have varied in entries, boat size, talent and enthusiasm; and at the end of the day, it's what you have to work with that matters most.

We will probably travel short distances (< 100 miles) to race weekend events at Southport, NC or Charleston, SC on occasion, but the Long Bay Sailing Association is who is putting on events, has a committed guy on a fast power boat that sets a decent course and line; and gets other sailboats out on a biweekly basis.

If going to a Handicap system instead of a rating increases the participation that's fine with me. I'd prefer it to have some level of damping, so that sandbagging is not a feature, and that well sailed boats are more likely to place well. If one of the not so well sailed boats, manages to have a breakthrough race, good one them, it's reminiscent of a round of golf I played about 22 yrs back in a company league where the CFO was giving me more than a stroke a hole, and I shot 8 under my handicap... Never before or since, but I can still recall the feeling of everything just working for a golden moment.

 

jesposito

Super Anarchist
Golf Handicapping for PHRF by John Collins:

PHRF obviously works best when there is a small handicap range in each class. That is fine if you have many boats. If, however, you have few boats with sailors of wide ranging abilities and boats with a wide range of speeds, the racing will be dominated by one or two boats. This leads to unhappiness. A possible remedy, at the local club level, is to institute golf handicapping. PHRF golf handicapping works just the way that golf handicapping works. The PHRF handicap is adjusted after each race, or regatta, based on the race performance. This should only be attempted in small fleets. It should not be used for large regattas or for large fleets sailing in several areas. The way it works is to pick a reference boat, say the boat that corrected out 40 percent of the way down the fleet. Then figure out the seconds per mile that the other boats either beat or lost to this boat. Take a small fraction of this delta, say 10 percent, and lower the faster boat’s handicaps by this amount and raise the slower boats. By taking a small percentage you do not make radical changes to a boat’s handicap. If the boat corrected significantly faster or slower than the reference boat, say by 50 seconds per mile, do nothing with these boats. There has to be a reason for this large delta like luck, or bad luck. You don’t want to contaminate your adjustments with such races. The golf handicap scheme is very simple to apply, at the local level. It can help a small fleet Over time it will tend to even things out. It will still allow the good guy to win overall. - See more at: http://www.ussailing.org/racing/offshore-big-boats/phrf/golf-handicaps/#sthash.v2Yq8etO.dpuf
John Collins is a fucking douchebag hack

 

Meat Wad

Super Anarchist
Timur said:
The handicapped PHRF system has an official name: Participation Trophy

...and is probably therefore a useful tool to incentivize participation....

I sailed at one club where each race was scored with both the 'golf' handicap and with Portsmouth yardstick (yes it was a dinghy club).
When you are having what are supposed to be fun races like the mid week Summer Wet Wednesday Series, there is nothing wrong with hitting the top 2 spots. It is a pain for the volunteers who run the races to track the ratings. I use a spread sheet, print it out and then I have a record to go back to in case I had a few too many rums and screwed the pooch. :)

We not only hit the top 2 but also lift the last 2. It is a pain but it usually takes about 6 races of the 22 race series to see the fleet start moving to parity. It becomes close by race 15. 

Weekend racing is not treated this way. Only the Summer WW series and we do get participation from boats that would not normally race.

 

Spoonie

Anarchist
742
91
Sydney
There are two Australian proprietary systems available that do performance based, rolling average handicaps, which we call Performance Handicapping Systems (PHS)

https://www.sailsys.com.au/

and

https://topyacht.com.au/web/

If you don't want to shell out, Rolling Average PHS is pretty easy to do on a spreadsheet. I can send you details if you want.

Alternatively, you can use 'picnic' minute handicapping:

  1. give each boat a handicap in minutes (which you can calculate from your TOD PHRF and the race length)
  2. for each race, 1st place has 3 minutes added to her handicap, 2nd place has 2 minutes added to her handicap, and 3rd place has one minute added to her handicap (for extra elaboration, particularly if you have a fleet with numerous boats that don't sail well to their PHRF, last place can have 3 minutes subtracted from her handicap, second last 2 minutes, and third last 1 minute.
  3. You can give a booby prize like a bottle of club champagne to the last boat in each race, to soften the blow.
  4. It needs to be understood that this system is for fun and is intended to  distribute the prizes, not to reflect how well sailed or prepared boats are.
Not a fan of the "picnic" handicapping.  It can whack you hard for a small win and you pogo all over the place.

The topyacht system can take a long time to work out anomalies depending on the adjustment factor and length of the rolling average.  IMHO the same basic rules apply as any handicap, if the boats are too far apart then the numbers can be a mess.  The more consistent relative performance is, the more reliable the numbers become.  

There's a handicapper here locally that seems to do a really good job of picking approximate first numbers.  At least, he seems to give us numbers which usually make sense.   Sometimes we get numbers from handicappers that are way off just because we beat some boat that should be faster than us in some race.

In short, As a sailor and not a handicapper, if you have a database or measurement system to base your first guess at, IMHO the whole thing will run more effectively.

 

mccroc

Anarchist
569
330
Sydney
There's a handicapper here locally that seems to do a really good job of picking approximate first numbers.  At least, he seems to give us numbers which usually make sense.   Sometimes we get numbers from handicappers that are way off just because we beat some boat that should be faster than us in some race.

In short, As a sailor and not a handicapper, if you have a database or measurement system to base your first guess at, IMHO the whole thing will run more effectively.
I am sure the guy you are referring to is actually the guy that worked out this PHS system, and in fact TopYacht copied it.

Your last line is the clincher, and I should have said it before - unless you start with good numbers, it is all academic anyway!

 

sailman

Super Anarchist
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416
Portsmouth, RI
To the argument that newcomers need some kind of rating help with  good finishes I submit that if losing drives you away from competing then no sport is good for that person

 

The Dark Knight

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Brisvegas
To the argument that newcomers need some kind of rating help with  good finishes I submit that if losing drives you away from competing then no sport is good for that person
At club level, that is a pretty stupid attitude to take. It will drive people way from racing and therefore also drive them out of clubs. By reducing fleet numbers it will also reduce crewing opportunities. Whilst PHS does help out the poor/new sailors it also reduces the need for club races to spend money on the latest and greatest sails etc to be competitive at club level. 

If you have a decent racing budget and a top crew and don't like being beaten by PHS hacks, then maybe you should race with a measurment handicap. Perhaps you don't want to find out that you are not a good sailor, just the least worst at your club. 

 

Spoonie

Anarchist
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91
Sydney
I am sure the guy you are referring to is actually the guy that worked out this PHS system, and in fact TopYacht copied it.

Your last line is the clincher, and I should have said it before - unless you start with good numbers, it is all academic anyway!
I think not.  The guy behind topyacht is pretty smart on this stuff.  He's written quite a few things on handicapping systems.

As mentioned, the big problem with the floating handicap is just the time for anomalies to get back to the mean.  We got whacked hard one year at our local club after some really great results in variable conditions.  3 years later I think we're back to about the same spot we were rating wise before then.  There's a couple of boats who were gifted good handicaps that on the water based on sheer straight line speed, should have been a bit higher I think.  But I'm not a handicapper and I have vested interests so *shrug*

The good handicapper guy I mentioned spends a lot of time at it.  We won a race by 30mins over the line one year because we managed to whip around a headland with a dying breeze and flood in current.  The boat literally two lengths behind us wasn't so lucky.  It doesn't make sense to let "The system" whack you for what was ostensibly an anomaly event, it would kill you for the rest of the series, so he intervened.  Kind of like any system, you need to know when it's producing bogus results.

What I do see is if your corrected time constantly comes out just above the mean or just below it, then you struggle.  If you pogo stick backwards and forwards, you tend to do better.  on raw scoring:  1+5 = 6, 3+3 = 6.  The former wins.  Handicap wise, pogo sticking helps you to game the handicap.  It doesn't encourage consistent, high performing sailing, or at least, consistent high performing sailors will suffer a little more.

It all comes out in the wash eventually.  Just takes time.  At the end of the day, club racing is practice racing. For our part, we take pleasure in how we fared against certain other boats over the line.  If we win or not on handicap comes down to the random luck of whether a boat 10' longer but finished behind us sailed closer to their waterline that day.

I guess some people don't see it that way though.  

 
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fastyacht

Super Anarchist
12,872
2,557
I once had a guy call me and say “Lookit, I just spent over $1 million on my boat and have paid professionals aboard so I expect a fair rating” which I took to mean that if he didn’t win the rating was probably not fair.

What do you do?

Later I had a guy call me and say “Lookit, me and my friends are all in our 80s and we just want to sail together one more time before we die. (Yes he really said that) The boat has 2 kayaks, one dinghy on davits, solar panels, a magma and smaller sails so we can handle it. Can you rate us semi-fairly?”

What do you do?
1 sec/mile of kayak foot

 3 sex/mile per 100 bbqft^2

 

SOSOS

New member
37
4
Milwaukee
To the argument that newcomers need some kind of rating help with  good finishes I submit that if losing drives you away from competing then no sport is good for that person
Winning is one thing, competing is another. Most people I know race for the competition not the wins. (The happy ones anyways) Nobody likes to come out when they are destined for last from the time they leave the dock. Make a rating system that gives them a chance to be near others so they can appreciate their better races and learn from their worse ones, and they are more likely to keep coming. But as has been said, depends on the purpose of your series

 

sailman

Super Anarchist
8,290
416
Portsmouth, RI
At club level, that is a pretty stupid attitude to take. It will drive people way from racing and therefore also drive them out of clubs. By reducing fleet numbers it will also reduce crewing opportunities. Whilst PHS does help out the poor/new sailors it also reduces the need for club races to spend money on the latest and greatest sails etc to be competitive at club level. 

If you have a decent racing budget and a top crew and don't like being beaten by PHS hacks, then maybe you should race with a measurment handicap. Perhaps you don't want to find out that you are not a good sailor, just the least worst at your club. 
Break out the participation Trophies then.

 

The Dark Knight

Super Anarchist
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Brisvegas
Break out the participation Trophies then.
do you think that an arms race at the bottom end of club level is a good way to encourge boats on the water giving crewing opportunities?

It will kill off racing for anyone who cannot afford new race sails and do all the things preparing a boat to be competitive, before it even hits the water. 

 
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