Wednesday, 12 January 2022

of Merlin & rockets and gaming the system

Although the Chillidog series, so called because (before covid) the club galley used to serve hotdogs after the racing, started only two weeks ago, this coming weekend will be without any sailing, as the club is hosting a Topper Open Meeting on Sunday instead.

Toppers are boats best suited to teenagers. Which is fine. Whilst I may no longer have a teenager's stature, I'd like to think I retain teenage enthusiasm. And Toppers are an absolute blast in a good blow, say F5+. However, the forecast for Sunday is about 5 knots. 

I had my fair dose of sailing last Sunday though. I raced the Albacore with Amanda in the morning. Two races; I screwed the start up on the first (a whole, unforgivable 24 seconds late crossing the start line) but redeemed myself for the second with a much better start, which took us on to win 1st place.

The Albacore is going well at the moment. That makes it our second win of the series so far, as we followed a similar pattern the week before; ie. screwed up the first race, and then woke up and won the second.

The downside is that for this series (and the summertime Wednesday evening equivalent, the Hotdogs) the club imposes a silly personal handicap system on the frontrunners. So as a consequence of our two wins so far, we now carry a penalty to our boat's handicap that essentially gives the rest of the fleet a whole minute's head start on us. Which in the final result, reduced our win to a 2nd place this week. And if we continue to do well, that's going to get worse.

Which is, frankly, a little frustrating.

A thought has just crossed my mind. We could, of course, game the system. In addition to picking up a penalty for finishing in the top three places, the last two boats to finish get a boost to their handicap. So three races of finishing last would both wipe out the penalty we've picked up, and give us a little bonus left over. There are 20 races in the series, of which you'll need just over half to qualify; the rest of the results can be discarded. 

So we could play our handicap by making sure we absolutely lose the races we discard, as in come last. The first race every Sunday is a pursuit, so that would be relatively easy to do, especially given my track record in the series so far. I'm not sure I have it in me to actually race to lose, but I can't say I'm not very tempted, if only to make a point.

Feels a little unsporting though. And to rant about the scoring system of the current series was not my intention for this post, so I apologise for the digression.

After the racing finished last Sunday and we'd packed away the Albacore, I met up with my friend Mick who took me out for a sail in his new (to him, albeit the boat is 40 years old) Merlin Rocket. 

I've not sailed a Rocket before, but always thought they were exceptionally pretty boats. And they're designed for speed with a wide, flared hull to make for efficient hiking to keep the boat flat. They're one of the very few boats on our lake with a faster handicap than the Albacore.

So this coming Sunday will be a shore day. But I don't think I have too many grounds for complaint.

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