Focus on Factions, Not Formulas

Published on July 25th, 2016

It is a reality that no handicap or rating rule works well when widely varying boats are grouped together. But instead of dwelling over fairness and formulas, John Arndt believes sailors can help the sport by better engineering the cliques…

There is way too much time spent looking for technical solutions to a non-technical problem. Instead of focusing on rating rules, boat design and performance characteristics, the way to create successful, fun, competitive fleets is to assemble classes of owners with a similar attitudes.

A major challenge for racing dissimilar boats occurs when people with unique boats that suit their particular sailing style, or people who spend an above average amount of money to be competitive, come together and expect race committees, yacht clubs, rating rules, etc to somehow create an acceptable landscape that allows all comers to be competitive.

Given the thousands of racing variations already in existence, it’s really up to skippers to find a class that suits their style, temperament, time, skill and budget.

If you have a big budget and like technical and management challenges, then a big, custom rating rule racer is for you. If you have limited time and budget, a smaller, owner-driver one design class like a Flying Scot, Thistle or Lightning or similar might be for you. Like camping out on a beach, barbecues and lots of laughs? The Hobie 16s might suit you well. Have a family that wants to daysail, overnight and do occasional racing with little time or budget? Then a good 70s or 80s PHRF plastic classic might suit.

Singlehanded racing, foiling Moths, kiteboarding – the options are endless. A fleet closely matching your level of intensity, budget, time constraints and sailing style already exists. Making sure you understand your own competitive style up front and picking a class appropriately will likely be the best way to solve a problem that no mathematical formula or race committee can do for you.

Naval architect Carl Schumacher had it right when he said, “There will be days when the conditions suit your boat, and you have a good chance of winning. The other days, just enjoy a good sail.”

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