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Performance Handicaps Systems a quick comparison 19991206 by pghr43eN


									 Performance Handicaps Systems: a quick comparison and a suggestion.
                               A TopYacht Discussion Paper.

In different Clubs and /or/ different situations people look upon Handicaps as providing
different things.
Handicapping for Keel Boats tends to have 1 of 3 aims.
1)      To make all the boats equal so the best sailors win. This is similar to the Yard Stick
        system used for dinghies. This can be done as a measurement system or as a PHRF
2)      To spread the prizes around. Under this system after each race those competitors who
        do well in a race have their handicap increased whereas those who did poorly have the
        HC lowered thus increasing the chance of them winning next time.
3)      Weighted average performance handicaps. Under this system the relative
        performance of each competitor is recorded over a number of races. This
        performance is averaged over the last “X” races and this value used as the handicap
        for the next race.

As I talk to various clubs and various sailors I find an almost universal dissatisfaction for all
these sorts of systems.

System 1 encourages all sailors to improve their performance. But only a few will be at the
top the others may be come disinterested with never being in the winners circles. This
system also presupposes that the boat is in very good condition this is turn demands money
and time be both available. This is not necessarily available to all sailors. This might be the
system for major events but it may not keep the Club member’s interest over a Club Series.

System 2 certainly lets most competitors feel that they are in the winners circles occasionally
but this system is looked down upon by the more capable sailors who are actually penalised
for winning.

System 3 initially looks good. It attempts to compare the relative performance of each boat
complete with her crew. Under this system the competitor who wins is the competitor who
has sailed most above their handicap i.e. their average performance. And there in lies the
problem. A really competent sailor who is sailing every race very well can rarely sail
significantly above his/her average handicap. Whereas a less competent sailor who is more
erratic in performance will have a lower average handicap. But by the very nature of their
erratics these sailor will regularly sail significantly above their average handicap. This is
encouraging to them but off putting to the better sailors.

A Suggested Alternative
System 4.
Most sailor know how well they performed compared to their own norm. They know if they
put in a particularly good or bad or mediocre performance.
So how about a system that uses the competitor’s performance against his own “norm”,
where “norm” means his normal spread of performance. This is actually quite easy to
Use system 3 as a starting point. But add an additional factor that of race “Variance” for
each competitor in each race. This Variance being the (percentage) difference between the
competitor’s performance (for this race) and his average performance ie his performance
handicap. A very good sailor at his best may perform just 2% above his average whereas a
less competent sailor sailing at his best may be at 4% above his average performance.
For each race take the competitor’s Variance and divide this by that his Average Variance (of
the last “X” races) to get a Race Variance Factor. Some simple maths can convert this to a
Variance Corrected Time for each competitor. The better the Race Variance Factor the
lower the Variance Corrected Time. Like wise for those who perform below there Average
Performance their Variance Corrected Time will be raised proportional to their Race
Variance Factor .
If our good sailor does very well he will have a race Variance of say 2.2% (above his HC).
Divide this by his Average Variance of 2% to get a Race Variance Factor of 1.1 for this
race. For the lesser skipper to win this race he will have to have performed above his
Average Variance of 4%.
If instead the better skipper had just had an average race with a Variance of just 0.1% then
dividing this by his AV of 2% gives a Race Variance Factor of just 0.05%. Under this
circumstances he should not feel too bad if the lesser sailor who sails a particularly good race
(for him) with a Variance of +4.8% will have a RVF of 2.2% and hence be declared the
winner of this race.
This system allows each competitor to virtually compete against the himself and against the
best performances of his fellow competitors. On his better days he will be in the winners
circles and on his lesser days, others who did perform to their best will be in the winners
For those who understand the short comings of System 3, this system can offer a way that the
whole club can compete together but the winner of each race will be the competitor who
excelled on that day not just the competitor who exceed their average HC by the most.

Performance Handicaps Systems a quick comparison.wpd 991116

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