II. Data Based Handicapping: A Fair and Equitable System

In the last article a case was made for calculating performance ratios as part of the normal scoring process in sailboat racing. The crux of the argument was that simply providing ordinal data, the finish places, or interval data, elapsed time deltas, deprived sailors of important information that could be used to gauge their own race performance within the scored race and across other races in the series. It was also suggested that ratio data could form the basis of a fair and equitable handicapping system. The article is available here.

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I. Towards a Fair and Equitable Handicapping System

It is perhaps axiomatic that a good performance handicapping system must be based on reliable and useful data. In the myriad criticisms of PHRF data quality is seldom mentioned as a factor to consider. It is however the foundation on which the system is built. Build a handicapping system on a faulty foundation and the result is a faulty handicap. Let’s look at the data generated in a typical regatta or club beer can race.

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Individual Handicaps and Fleet Racing

(This article was originally published on Scuttlebutt Sailing in Spring 2016 and again on April 13, 2017)


An Investigation into the Effects of an Individual Performance Handicapping System on Fleet Competition at the Local Level

David Lochner and

Richard White[1]

Oswego Yacht Club[2]

October 2015


Fair competition is a central tenant in all athletic competition. Fairness can be realized in many ways. Team sports such as softball are organized in leagues based on skill levels. Bowlers are handicapped based on personal performance relative to a league standard. Personal performance and course difficulty are considered in golf handicapping. Sailing is perhaps unique in that it handicaps boats and not sailors.

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