It’s always a topic of conversation at this time of year, so here are some facts about how the Handicapping Committee goes about its generally thankless task.
First up we have a set of rules, which are modelled on the Yachting Victoria rules, taking into account some of the nuances with our Couta Boat fleet. You can read the rules here. http://sscbc.com.au/couta-boats/#couta-boats-our-signature-fleet
A couple of highlights are:
- It is a performance Handicapping system, using statistics about how the boat / equipment helm and crew have performed to devise a rating of how it historically performs.
- It is not a rating system (using measurements) like IMS, IRC, etc.
- The system relies on the honesty of boats to declare changes.
- When there are significant changes the HC adjusts the Handicap, using a set of standard loadings.
The sailing instructions (SI 11) require that any changes that you make are reported at the first reasonable opportunity. Please use the link Crew / Equipment Change Form to do this on the Couta Boat Page http://sscbc.com.au/couta-boats/#couta-boats-our-signature-fleet
Specifically for the Portsea Cup you are required to email these details by 5pm on Friday to email@example.com .
There are still a few ways that a boat can improve performance, without incurring a penalty. One such example discussed in the Couta Conversations is cleaning the hull.
The best base performance data we have at the moment are the results from the Nationals. We had true laid courses with a large fleet in ‘normal’ conditions.
Coming up to the Portsea Cup, this is the best data we have, so it will be the initial data the HC committee uses. Because Couta Boats vary so much in their performance characteristics, Passage races performances are distinctly different from windward / leewards.
Those boats that are relatively weaker on upwind beats (for whatever reason), as a generalization perform much better in passage races. Conversely, those that beat well, underperform in a passage race because they don’t get a chance to do a work (their strongest leg) against the rest of the fleet.
If we were to include the South Chanel passage race results in the Portsea Cup (Windward Leeward / Triangle courses) Handicaps, we would see boats that race a windward / leeward well start with a lowered performance handicap and the less accomplished start with a higher handicap.
The HC is aware that the Portsea Cup is a special race and is alert to possible changes to boats and the performance factors in individual boats, particularly with crew change combinations. Where it gets difficult is adjusting for the number of crew on board which has a significant weight effect and can change relative performance.
Also challenging is the fact that boats perform differently in different conditions, some are relatively stronger in light airs and some relatively stronger in the heavy stuff, or just better in bigger seas.
The most difficult part for the HC is setting handicaps for ‘visiting’ boats, those that have not raced in the fleet. Try overlaying the above variables against a boat that has only raced the fleet a few times, possible years ago. To set those Handicaps, the committee first tries to identify a ‘matching’ boat and then adjusts with any other known data.
As you can see, getting a perfect HC for one race has its difficulties and the system is better suited to producing a sound set of season results.
In summary, the Portsea Cup could be anyone’s race, it will depend upon the conditions, strategies and tactics, but that’s what makes it exciting.