Working ashore

Part of the work to do in preparing for the racing season is to get a rating from one of the big origanizations – ORC or PHRF. Several members of the team got together to measure sails, which is part of the numbers that PHRF needs to set a handicap. The sail measurements coupled with measurements of the boat itself are run through a handicapping program that yields a theoretical speed for the boat. That is then used to decide the handicap.

The handicap is set so that boats of different design and lengths and sail plans can compete with each other. For instance, Opus could not hope to compete against an IMOCA or a foiling sailboat in a head-to-head race. Some of those boats will do over 40 knots in the right conditions whereas Opus is unlikely to break 10 or 12 knots. The handicap is expressed as a certain number of seconds per mile of race course that is subtracted from our elapsed time. So if a boat, say a foiling boat, is expected to finish a 100 mile course in about 4 hours, averaging a little bit less than 2 1/2 minutes per mile, Opus would be expected to cover that same course in about 12 1/2 hours, averaging 7.5 minutes per mile. Our handicap should be in the neighbourhood of 5 minutes per mile.

Of course, we all want to be the first over the finish line – what is called “Line Honours” in racing.

You may notice that there are two more timers running on the pages now. They are both estimates, but tell us how much time until our first “big” races – SwiftSure and Southern Straits. We may do some racing before then, but those are the first goals we’re really aimed at and training for. I’ll be firming up the timers once the race organizers announce the actual dates of the races.

Those are the two big races for us in 2022, though I have my eye on a few other ones such as Malaspina Straits. We’ll also be doing some long-duration sails on our own over weekends and perhaps even take a week to do a whirlwind circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

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