FORMAT: Rewarding consistency and universality

Published on June 3rd, 2013

The North American Kiteboard Racing Championships will be held this week on San Francisco Bay, with 72 entrants representing 21 countries. Hosting is St. Francis Yacht Club, considered to be the birthplace of kiteboard course racing, with America’s Cup Principal Race Officer John Craig reigning as PRO for the event. John, as former Race Director of the StFYC ran the first ever kiteboarding race in 2005.

The hot button issue in high performance kiteracing over the winter has been racing formats. Over the past few months Markus Schwendtner of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and Robbie Dean of the American Kiteboarding Association (AKA) and St. Francis Yacht Club (StFYC) have analyzed the data from ISAF Sailing World Cup events and from the kiteboarding fleet racing events.

Noting the successes and shortcomings of past testing as well as feedback from the sailors, there will be an introduction of an experience-based format and scoring system at the North American Championship. The bottom line of the proposed format is:

*Structure the event into three clearly separated stages: qualifying series, final series, medal series
* Keep all sailors involved from the first till the last day of the regatta
* Reward consistency AND universality
* Run the same course format throughout the regatta, with the length adapted to the current stage

These criteria have led us to the following base ideas

* One discard per event stage (one in the qualifying series, one in the final series, one in the medal series, regardless of number of races in that series)
* Minimum 2, maximum 8 races per event stage, with recommended 4 races per day
* Position after qualifying series carried forward as initial two (2) race scores of the final series
* Points after final series carried forward (non discardable) to the medal series, virtually extending the final series with additional races of the same weight, but with smaller fleets
* Former gold fleet split into platinum (top 10) and gold (remaining gold except top 10) for the medal series stage (plus silver, bronze etc as before)
* Shorter courses on finals day due to smaller fleet sizes, but same course configuration
* Umpiring on the final day for the platinum fleet to enable prize giving right after racing

“I’m excited to try this format,” shared current World Champion Johnny Heineken. “This is the first time since this ‘media friendly format’ craze began that the sailors’ opinion has been heard and had some influence on the next event. This format should reward consistency by carrying through some qualifying scores and all gold fleet points into the medal series on the last day.

“At last year’s World Championships we carried over our position from Gold Fleet racing into the Medal Series as only a single score, essentially throwing out all previous days of tough racing. The North Americans format will create a very competitive fleet of the top 10 (platinum fleet) with sufficient weighting to promote position changes, while rewarding good sailing over the entire regatta. It also allows all sailors (gold, silver, etc) to sail on the last day instead of sitting on the beach to watch the top few.”

Event details here.

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