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2020: a year of teamwork, growth, and better data

by John Horton, Executive Director 18 Dec 2020 14:04 GMT
2020: a year of teamwork, growth, and better data © Offshore Racing Rule

The Offshore Racing Association (ORA) has used the self-isolating year of the Covid-19 pandemic to enhance its software to be able to efficiently review and correct accumulated errors, large and small, in the sailboat-measurement database that it uses jointly with US Sailing.

The result is more accurate ORR and ORR-Ez certificates. The growth of ORR-Ez along the Gulf Coast, in Southern California and New England is a testament to the hard work of our central office and regional representatives. In all, ORA processed almost 1300 certificates in 2020 showing 11-percent growth over 2019. ORA is set to give personal service to race organizers and boat owners in achieving successful, fun and fair racing in 2021.

The Covid pandemic certainly limited racing across the country in 2020, and as a result, certificate applications and renewals were lower than originally forecast for the Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) and its companion rule, ORR-Ez. The high-profile cancellations of the Newport Bermuda Race and the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac reduced the number of ORR certificates by at least 300.

Yet as an indication of the customer-service focus and resilience of the ORA, which owns and manages both rules, the association issued more certificates than ever in 2020, a total of 1279, up from 1149 in 2019.

ORA Race Management Group

This result didn't happen by accident. At the ORA, we maintained focus and built our team service capability through the Race Management Group (see article "Building a Support Group for Race Managers"). This group, which has representatives from several regions of the country, nurtured fledgling fleets from Milwaukee to Bermuda, and it helped race committees include last-minute entries without existing ratings.

On a bigger scale, the Group conceived ideas for a quick response to the need, for example, on Massachusetts Bay for "triple-handed" ORR-Ez certificates in response to Covid guidelines limiting crew size.

Further, the Group engaged PHRF organizers in California and on the Gulf of Mexico, generating new ideas and products—in the latter area, the Gulf Yachting Association elected to purchase multi-number certificates on a wholesale basis, branded ORA-1. (See "ORA Rating Services to Provide Multiple Ratings to GYA-PHRF Fleets.")

Data-checking with ORA Proprietary Software

The ORA's second major initiative in 2020 focused on data quality, a significant issue identified in November 2019 in a joint ORA/US Sailing release. In the release, both organizations committed to "improve data collection, input processes, and quality-control measures of boat measurement data in US Sailing's sailboat-measurement database. The release identified an "unacceptable level of data errors" from measurers, sailmakers, data input and in certificates issued by other measurement rules.

US Sailing addressed, or will address, some of these errors, depending on the source. Meantime, the ORA committed to a full audit of approximately 700 existing and new certificates, which it has accomplished by investing in proprietary data-checking software. This has been critical in correcting errors and omissions often found in the owner-supplied data used in ORR-Ez ratings. But we have also learned that it is extremely helpful in uncovering problems with measured data, spotlighting errors both in measurement and in data entry that reside in the US Sailing database.

One of the software's methods is to use the visualization tool shown above. While it was originally developed for the owner-provided data used for ORR-Ez, the software makes it equally clear when any notable error in the measurement of sails or rig-plan has been made.

Read more including ORA Fleet News here.

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