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Club fleets and critical mass

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    Posted: 12 Aug 19 at 7:42pm
Last year our club rejigged the fleets to better reflect the increase in 'non-laser' singlehanders.

By moving the PY limit for the slow handicap up, to just above an Aero 9, and incorporating the - often 2-3 boat - Laser 'fleet' it has created a slow handicap fleet with much better turnouts and the fast handicap with a much tighter PY range, giving (arguably) better racing for both and one less fleet for the OOD to worry about.

It seems club Laser 'fleets' are often red herrings once the multiple rigs are taken into account and some clubs seem to soldier on with multiple classes of 1-3 boats (because X class were popular there 20 years ago...) when it would be better to amalgamate them into a bigger handicap class. It seems logical that people are more likely to turn out if they are confident of having a decent numbers of boats to race against.

Curious as to how often other clubs review their fleet structure and what seems to work best - PY or style of boat (assym\symmetric etc.)? 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote H2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 19 at 8:04am
At South Cerney we have a boat park full of Lasers but rarely see more than one or two on the water together. On Wednesday nights we have a mass handicap event which is well attended (20+ boats), a Saturday afternoon pursuit race (typically 7 boats), Sunday morning fleet racing which is Solos (5 boats), FF15 (5 boats) and general handicap (5 to 15 boats) and then a general handicap on Sunday afternoon which is not well attended.

I would say that the Solo and FF15 fleets have been consistent over the years I have been there but the handicap fleet is well attended and with a decent level of competition. If I was lighter I might consider a Solo but I am not and will never be so I am very happy to race in the handicap fleet.


Edited by H2 - 13 Aug 19 at 8:04am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 19 at 1:53pm
Fleets wax and wane. Event those with plenty of boats in the boat park rarely get regularly decent turnouts.

Our Laser fleet varies from 2 to 10 boats, Solo fleet the same. The handicap fleet does something similar.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gordon 1430 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 19 at 2:03pm
Our biggest fleet is RS400, Followed by Aero's (but is that 3 fleets as the rigs vary?) then, non Asymmetric handicaps and 2000 which this year seems to have taken a drop for some reason.
400 are getting between 8 and 15 on a Tuesday night and 6 to 12 Saturdays

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Post Options Post Options   Quote DiscoBall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 19 at 3:11pm
Originally posted by jeffers

Fleets wax and wane. Event those with plenty of boats in the boat park rarely get regularly decent turnouts.

Our Laser fleet varies from 2 to 10 boats, Solo fleet the same. The handicap fleet does something similar.


I guess what I was getting at was how reactive should clubs be to these changes? At what point do low turnouts get considered permanent (1 season, 2 seasons...) and do clubs track average fleet turnouts?

Is the (theoretical) purity of OD racing between two or three boats (which may have helms of radically different ability) preferable to a PY racing in a larger fleet of reasonably well matched classes?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 19 at 3:16pm
Originally posted by DiscoBall

Originally posted by jeffers

Fleets wax and wane. Event those with plenty of boats in the boat park rarely get regularly decent turnouts.

Our Laser fleet varies from 2 to 10 boats, Solo fleet the same. The handicap fleet does something similar.


I guess what I was getting at was how reactive should clubs be to these changes? At what point do low turnouts get considered permanent (1 season, 2 seasons...) and do clubs track average fleet turnouts?

Is the (theoretical) purity of OD racing between two or three boats (which may have helms of radically different ability) preferable to a PY racing in a larger fleet of reasonably well matched classes?

My local club doesnt really react. The only changes to official fleet status in recent memory were Phantoms gaining then losing it (once the PY came down to a realistic number the pot hunter left) and the venerable Enterprise finally losing fleet status after years of no turnouts.

People are pushing for the D-Zero to get fleet status (as they dont like us winning consistently) but we just dont have the turnouts at the moment.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 19 at 9:28am
At South Cerney its interesting that the best attended race series are the ones where we all sail in one handicap fleet and from talking with people its the races that people enjoy the most. We have separate FF15 and Solo fleets in some series which see around 5 boats on average show up but the results are nearly always the same whereas a larger handicap fleet mixes up the outcomes especially over a series with differing conditions.

We have faced pressure in the past to add new fleets and typically it seems this comes when six boats of one class are regularly racing but we have resisted this because all too often things are fluid and people change class or clubs from season to season and we plan our sailing schedule in September for the next year so its hard to predict.

Personally I think that the reality of dinghy sailing will see most clubs head toward a general handicap fleet with people that want to fleet race heading to opens to do so. I am not saying that is optimal but it reflects the reality of our sport.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote GML Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 19 at 9:43am
I take it that those that are asking for fleet status want more than just a separate set of results for their specific fleet; I assume they also want a separate start, and potentially a different course from other fleets?

If all they wanted were separate results then that shouldn't be too hard to arrange, potentially even ex-post based on the number of boats that actually turn up. This is certainly how we do it at our Junior Race Week.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote H2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 19 at 9:53am
Hi GML, at our club a separate "fleet" implies a separate start and separate set of results / prizes but all fleets sail on the same course with starts 3 minutes apart.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 19 at 12:46pm
Originally posted by H2

Hi GML, at our club a separate "fleet" implies a separate start and separate set of results / prizes but all fleets sail on the same course with starts 3 minutes apart.

Same here and it does annoy me when the RO is lazy and chucks the fleets together so you end up racing boats that are in a different race to you.
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