Jan 23, 2012, 6:46 AM
Post #1 of 4
By Dobbs Davis, Seahorse
EXAMINING A NEW RATING PARADIGM: High Performance Rule
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High performance sailing is at a crossroads: Some of the most popular one-designs raced in the last decade are getting a little long in the tooth and have a chance for being upstaged by some exciting new designs just entering the scene. These range from MC38's, to Farr 400's, to GP42's and up to TP52's, all of which are racing at Quantum Key West 2012 this week.
These high-speed, offshore-capable designs have always been problematic for the US rating rules, as their greater performance including planing offwind cannot be easily predicted alongside the bulk of the fleet sailing in more traditional displacement boats. Ideally the planing boats can be grouped together to enjoy good racing, but this is not always possible, and there are still critical rating differences that can arise based on the vagaries of whatever system is used.
For example, the PHRF approach of using empirical data and declared dimensions to support the rating is one approach, but it can take years of data to finally hone in on a reasonable number after applying plenty of other un-measured filters (weather conditions, crew quality, etc).
The ORR and IRC approach of using detailed measurements plugged into a secret rating rule might work for some, but no one likes secrecy too much, where ORR protects its fleet with 'go-slow' features, and IRC favors heavier displacement production boats in the 40-foot range. ORC racing systems are public and show promise for these boat types, but is not currently used in the US.
In 2010, a group formed to examine how a new rating paradigm could be devised to work for modern planing boats, with the following features: fully-measured, completely public, simple to apply, expressed on a spreadsheet, and intentionally typeforming towards high-speed offshore designs. The group called this concept HPR, for High Performance Rule.
But who are the owners and crews interested in this? And does the world really need yet another rating rule?
Listening to people this week at Quantum Key West 2012 who are racing these newest generation boats (Farr 400's, MC38's, GP42's, even some TP52's), the answer seems to be 'Yes'. Anticipating this, Premiere Racing has offered an HPR class to try out the nascent version of the rule, which for the moment has been assembled from ORR and beta version HPR VPP's from Jim Teeters, combined with some PHRF factors from Bruce Bingham.
After the racing on Thursday in Key West, I will be moderating a Seahorse-sponsored panel discussion from 5:00-6:00 PM EST to explain how the HP Rule works, what if any conclusions can be made from the racing to date, and what's next in the future of HPR. The panelists include: Steve Benjamin, North Sails; Marty Kullman, Quantum Sails; Dee Smith, Farr 400 Class; Wolfgang Schaefer,/ Farr 40 Class and ORC; and Rob Weiland, TP52 Class.