Penalize winning. Promote participation.

Published on May 11th, 2014

The Wednesday night “Beer Can” racing hosted by Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA in New England region has a system to encourage participation and stifle some of the competitive urges. Andrew White describes…

For many years, at least since I started racing here in 1990, a system is used whereby the winner in each PHRF class is assessed a 36 second per mile penalty (against their rating) for the following week. The subsequent week it drops to 18 seconds per mile and after that disappears. It’s all plugged into the results and everyone can see the data in results printouts or online.

This system has been accepted by the more hardcore racers, understanding that Wednesday is a fun race for all. People can choose to be uber competitive or not, but in any case this method encourages and stimulates newer or less sophisticated entrants without new sails, perfect bottom, top crew, etc. to participate. In addition, it limits the same top boats from winning every week. It becomes quite an accomplishment – or stroke of luck – to win two weeks in a row. Very rare, but can happen.

I will say entries remain at a very good level for the Wednesday races, whereas we all know that weekend racing participation has dropped dramatically over the last say 10-15 years. Certainly the penalty system helps our numbers, as does the fact that the time commitment for the weekday races is much less than a weekend race and does not take one away from family for an entire day.

There are three series – Spring, Summer and Fall – and an overall cumulative result and award ceremony. For each Wednesday race, sailors and non-sailors are invited back to BYC for food and drinks outside at the gazebo right on the harbor. The post race gathering, party and nightly awards are very well attended weekly.

The Spring Series begins May 14. Details here.

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