Friday, August 7, 2015

Ida Lewis Distance Race

To be perfectly honest, I have a major problem with this race. Any shorthanded sailor who knows me has probably heard me bitch about it. There are two races on the eastern seaboard that restrict Jeroboam from entering: Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR) and the Vineyard Race. They do so by setting rating restrictions on entries. Why? Because the organizers are more concerned with getting the party started post-race than they are attracting boats to their races.

ILDR even more absurdly may allow boats with a handicap slower than 128 sec/mile to enter but even if they do, they're required to race with a rating of 128. This means that they have zero interest in providing a fair competition to 56.7% of the registered PHRF boats in Narragansett Bay. I have never heard of another race doing this. ILDR is uniquely idiotic.

Any boat with a handicap lower than 128 can cross the starting line with a reasonable expectation of doing well among their peers. If they prepared their boat well, trained, studied the course’s tactical features and sail well, they might just win. Any boat with a handicap higher than 128 can cross the starting line knowing that they are at a distinct disadvantage to all the boats with a rating of 128 or less. It doesn’t matter how well prepared their boat is, or how hard they and their crew trained, or how well they sailed, their corrected time will not be reflective of their boat’s performance characteristics because the race committee don’t want them to win. They don’t want to employ the PHRF rating methodology to allow dissimilar boats to complete on a level field, only those with a rating of 128 or faster. All the others don’t deserve the same courtesy. They are subjected to different rules because ILDR has no interest in attracting them to their race. They would rather they stay home, or if they insist on entering, lose.

In their mind there are two classes of boat owners. The welcomed class of owners whose boats have a rating of 128 or faster. No need to apply for entry, just sign up and come on down. They’re happy to have them. The unwelcomed class owns boats whose rating is slower than 128. First they must apply for entry, submit a sailing resume and provide documentation of past racing performance. If, and only if, their entry is accepted, they are forced to race with a handicap that was not assigned to their boat by the regional authority, rather one that gives them a slim to zero chance of a fair competition. When scoring the race, the race committee will then proceed to break their own rule as stated in the Notice Of Race, section 5.2.a, “PHRF Boats will be scored based on ratings assigned by PHRF Association of Narragansett Bay.” No, the race committee will do no such thing for the unwelcome class of boats. Instead it will use a rating other than that assigned by the PHRF Association of Narragansett Bay. It will use the arbitrary rating of 128. If the unwelcomed class of entrants doesn’t like it, they can stay home and write blog posts like this one. Or in my case, borrow a boat from a friend that meets their idiotic rating cap.

I enjoy racing too much to simply boycott this race. Instead, I will do what I always do: try to prepare to a greater degree than my competition, study the course/weather/tactics longer and harder than my competition and sail to the best of my ability. And thank Mike Piper profusely for letting me enter his boat.

Race starts Friday, August 14 around noon and will likely finish sometime Saturday afternoon (the race committee will choose a course short enough based on the wind forecast so their precious post-race party starts on time). Here's the likely course they will select:


Here are the current entries.

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