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Leveling the rating field

Published on February 27th, 2019

The Offshore Racing Association, which administers the Offshore Rating Rule for the Bermuda races from Marion (MA) and Newport (RI), has launched a 2019 research study called “The ORA H-Zero Handicap Analysis” to enhance handicapping methodologies for future Bermuda and other races.

The purpose of the study is to use existing computer-modeled wind records called H0 (Zero) GRIB files to extract a summary of wind conditions that boats would have experienced in each part of a past race and use the data to enhance current scoring methodologies.

NOAA has made available H0 data, so called as it represents the initialization conditions (Hour Zero) for GRIB forecasts. In the context of sailing, H0 data represents weather data that is as close to the actual conditions as possible. And, by stringing together sequential H0 data, it is possible to assemble the actual weather conditions experienced by boats throughout the course of a race (additional details).

ORA will be working with the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association (MBCYRA) and Newport Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) with the research led by ORA Technical Director James Teeters.

Teeters collaborated in 2018 on a study with the MBCYRA, providing a means of more fairly handicapping the race when light-wind conditions dramatically slow the fleet in the middle of the race.

In Phase 1 of the 2019 H-Zero Handicap Analysis, ORA will monitor the 2019 Marion to Bermuda Race and critique the initial work, suggesting further improvements.

In Phase 2, ORA will conduct test scoring of the actual Marion to Bermuda Race using the H0 wind records, running competing boats through an optimal routing program to compare a boat’s elapsed time against the theoretical best elapsed time it could have achieved with a perfect race.

This means that a boat is scored against itself given the conditions that existed on the racecourse. MBCYRA organizers plan to run this as a scoring experiment (without awarding prizes) and then evaluate the results.

In Phase 3, ORA research will retrieve H0 wind records of several past races to Bermuda, run a representative fleet of boats through optimal routing, and compile a table of the combinations of wind angles and wind speeds experienced.

The Newport Bermuda Race organizers will use that analysis to consider fine-tuning the assumptions in the Performance Curve Scoring (PCS) system used for the 2020 Newport Bermuda Race.

Source: ORA

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