Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scoring Yacht Races in Progress

Way to go Team! In tonight's Wet Wednesday, Psyche's Song won again in extra innings. We finished 6th out of 15 starters, which situates us in 3rd place for the Spring Season Series - not at all bad for a start on 2009 WW's.

Last night's experience got me to thinking.

I see similarities between blue water/ocean racing on one hand, and racing in drifting conditions in our Santa Barbara venue. Of course, my experience in the former is not 'real' like in the Volvo Ocean Race, but 'virtual', as in the Volvo Ocean Racing Game.

Let's set aside Wet Wednesday handicapping systems and assume boat-for-boat competition on the water. In last night's conditions, and in the VOR/VORG, it's impossible to score a race while it's in progress, except at mark roundings and at the finish line of course. What I am saying is that, in almost any other competitive and quantitative sport you can think of (baseball, football, golf, tennis, etc.) you can, during the game, make a statement as to who's ahead and who's behind. In last night's adventure, it was impossible to tell, because there were so many different, scattered, and changing micro-wind situations. VOR also challenges racers with micro-weather systems except that there is a much wider range of conditions in ocean racing. In both situations, making assessments on the basis boats' positions during the race can prove very misleading. Someone pointed out last night that while Prime Time blew Psyche's Song away at the 1st mark, there was a photo-finish between the two at the finish line. Additionally boats which typically blow Psyche's Song off the water in light 5-10 knot conditions, were beaten boat-for-boat in last night's drifter.

The difference is to be found in the human component. Psyche's Song's team always extracts the most out of her rig, especially in the most challenging and marginal conditions.

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