Although I only posted about Hotlaps Handicaps 2013 two days ago, we already have 35 laps entered! Thank you to Armano Xaris, Andi Merryman, Hay Ah, Yuuki Onmura, LucyInTheSky Afarensis, Lance Corrimal, and Jane Fossett (that’s me).
It’s way too early to say much about the data (that’s never stopped me before, however). Based on the hotlaps results from a few years ago, it looks like the current numbers are already falling in line, and there are some interesting comparisons we can guess that. Here are the lap scores for just the Plum Gut course after two days; I’ll report on the other lines later:
Each column represents a different boat, and the average lap time for that boat class is shown in blue at the bottom.
To make the comparisons easier, we need to pick an “Index boat” to normalize all the courses. That Index boat’s lap times become a simple benchmark for the rest of the fleet. Personally, I think the best choice is the Quest Melges-24. It’s a very popular racer with dual BWIND/ WWC compatibility, a full info-HUD, and well-balanced boat controls with no unusual features or problematic issues. It’s easy to change index boats in the future if the lap data supports a switch.
The “Handicap Factor” is defined as the simple ratio of [(index boat lap time)/ (test boat lap time)].
The Melges-24 scores a 1.00 in that simple scheme. The Wildcat-45 rates a 1.08, meaning it’s 8% faster than the Melges, and that makes it the fastest boat in the above table.
Even though many columns only have one lap entered so far, if you look closely at the scores you can see interesting patterns emerging. For example, Yala74 did a single lap in a (legendary) Wildwind RCJ-44, resulting in a handicap of 1.07. That puts it very close to Wildwind Wildcat. It looks like the Wildwind boatyard plans to hold onto its reputation as the builder of the fastest boats in Second Life.
There are other close boat comparisons on the list. Although Jane Fossett only did one lap in the Trudeau François Jacques, that yielded a handicap score (0.63) that exactly matched the handicap of the Trudeau ONE, based on laps sailed by Andi Merryman and Yala74. FranJac and ONE share much in common, and it’s no surprise their performance is so close.
I guess it’s also no surprise that the Nacra-17 (1.01) is a close match for another boat built by The Mesh Shop, the OD-65 (0.98). What was more interesting is how close they both are to the lap performance of the Melges-24 (1.00)!
And okay, just one more comparison. Lance Corrimal did a single lap in an ACA33v3.1 that resulted in a handicap of 0.81. Lance commented that he thought his lap was probably slow, but it supports what many sailors think; namely that the speedy little Melges-24 can actually out-sail the much larger ACA33.
That last point is actually an interesting discussion and it’s highly situation dependent, but let’s hold it for another day; hopefully by then we will have many more laps by many more people on several more courses. That will give the handicap factors more weight, and reduce the amount of guesswork involved comparing boats or discussing race tactics.