When are corrected times and class winners announced in a yacht race?
August 31, 2013 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing a story about the Newport Bermuda Race, and having trouble with one detail in particular: I know that there's a total elapsed time for the race, and then a corrected time which determines the actual winner in each class/division, but I don't know when a crew would be informed of their corrected time or of where they placed in their division.

I understand that it's a pretty straightforward formula that even an amateur can calculate online, so would the race officials tell you your corrected time over the radio once you've crossed the finish? Would you be calculating it on your own, with pretty good confidence that your numbers will match the official race results? If you won in your division, would you know that immediately, or would you have to wait until results were announced later in the day? Is this the kind of situation where spectators following the race on Yellowbrick would know for certain who had won each division before the official announcement?

I understand this is a pretty minor detail, but since it's obviously an important plot moment in a story about a race, I'd like to get it right if I can. Any and all information is very much appreciated!
posted by Narrative Priorities to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
One data point from a club I raced in: yacht crews would operate a rota in such a way that a particular crew would be assigned to the rotating duty of running races a couple of times a season. The club committee had overall responsibility for consistency and the enforcement of rules - but they guy who maintained the laptop into which results where entered - and who wrote the spreadsheet into which they recorded - was an especially an important figure. The races were done with a rolling handicap system and all vessels would have their current handicap value entered into a spreadsheet before the race. The first boat crossing the line would quite seldom be the actual winner - but it was usually possible to know both the winner and the leaders before the last yacht had crossed the finish line. The delaying factor was disputes: the final result could not be announced until these had been resolved - and these were common.

So for these reasons the final results would normally be announced - after the tallying of results and the resolution of disputes - in the club's bar when everybody had packed up and assembled there after the race. Then these would be posted on the club's website and on a noticeboard outside the clubhouse. Not everybody would typically be present to hear the result of a regular race - but they would be for a big one. Most participants would have already formed a pretty strong, and usually accurate, opinion of who had won by talking amongst themselves: we knew the handicaps of our competing boats.
posted by rongorongo at 8:15 AM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

For PHRF racing at my club, corrected times aren't typically announced, but they're posted with the results at the club after the race (they only announce the top three finishers, which you can't know until all the boats have finished). You can't calculate PHRF results via the form in the link, as PHRF requires you know the length of the racecourse. PHRF is also, by far, the most common yacht racing handicap system in the US.

But, typically, you know close to your finishing position at the end of the race, as you know the handicap of your boat and others, and can make close guesses. At the last race I sailed in, though, the winner in the A division won by *1 second* on corrected time, so you can't always be certain. And if the race is close, you will definitely be waiting for official results. (We missed the finish line entirely due to getting a spinnaker wrap during a gybe, and had to sail back and cross it. We were pretty confident in our last place finish.)

The Newport Bermuda Race seems to use ORR ratings rather than PHRF handicaps. How people use this system I can't really say, because I've never used it. I'm not sure how commonly it's used anywhere but the Newport Bermuda race.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:07 AM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

If they were posting real time finishes on yellowbrick, then you would know. Also, it can depend on the day. If you finish first and you are a slow boat, you might know you won earlier because there are fewer boats who can correct over you.
posted by mercredi at 3:39 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Note that class 5 of that race in 2012 was a "one-design" fleet, meaning the boats are all the same. In that case, there is no handicapping done to convert elapsed times to adjusted times.

The other answers are correct that the sailors will know the relative handicaps and how that converts into time. E.g. you have to beat boat X by amount Y. Especially over such a long race as this one it's easy to lose track of the competition or get boats confused, and at night it's impossible to identify the competition from any distance. Also note in those results that the elapsed time between 1st and second place can be about 90 minutes. So it's possible for the results to be indeterminate for that long.

In a long race like that one, the race committee would probably radio the results to shore as they become available. The order can change as slower boats "correct on" faster ones, but that's really the first time you would have solid information.

It's been a while since I followed a race on Yellowbrick, so I forget exactly what information they give.
posted by Horselover Fat at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2013

Finished the story on time for the deadline, thanks in part to you folks. MetaFilter helpfulness never ceases to amaze me!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:49 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

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