Uncooperative weather slows races


The past week was a disappointing one for HHSA sailors. The Thursday evening race started and ended in the rain, but eight undaunted souls showed up nonetheless. There were 15 knots of breeze at the start, but as the rain diminished, so did the wind, which disappeared completely by the time the fleet regained their moorings. Then the rain began again in earnest just as the gear was being put up. First across the finish was Truckin, with an elapsed time of just over 42 minutes. Artful Dodger, a Tartan 3500 sailed by Mike Powers, won the cup, just about a minute ahead of Silhouette, an Alerion 33 skippered by Wendell Colson. Roger Becker sailed his C&C 24, Gloria, into the third spot. Two Herreshoffs competed as well; Phil Hale’s Whirlwind bested Nereid in the initially high winds. Sunday’s race was abandoned after several postponements, waiting for some sort of wind that was apparently occupied elsewhere.

The Jewett Bowl Race will be held on Saturday, August 14, and the VHYC has extended an open invitation to all Holmes Hole sailors. The Vineyard Haven Yacht Club website provides details for rules and registration, and Thursday is the deadline.

Frank Jewett was, in fact, the first person to devise a rating system for HHSA in order for racing to be competitive for such a wide variety of entrants. He simply averaged the elapsed time of the boats sailing the triangle course around the harbor, and assigned handicaps accordingly to even things out. As personal computers became commonplace, Harry Duane, another dedicated racer, made the calculations based on software that allowed him to even up the boats based on the previous season. Both of these systems had shortcomings, and now Roger Becker has devised a more sophisticated version that takes the actual elapsed times from all races in the previous three years to determine the seconds per mile rating that would allow a tie between any pair of boats. For 30 boats, there are about 450 ratings. If a new boat joins the fleet, an initial rating is assigned based on comparable craft. After five races, the rating is determined that would have scored the new boat in the middle of the fleet, and then is calculated again after 10 races. But sometimes things change on a given boat, such as new sails, new crew or equipment, in which case, if the boat is running away with the season and wins three races in a row, the hammer comes down, and there is a penalty imposed of 10 seconds per mile. And so on, if the streak continues. So winners can be winners, but not too much!

Holmes Hole races are held on Thursdays and Sundays. All are welcome. Please consult holmeshole.org for details.