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CSA Handicap Update and High Speed Scoring

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Each Caribbean racing season, regatta organizers and their committees work to implement new strategies to make competition more fair and fun. This year, improvements to the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) handicap rule and faster score delivery are two hot developments.


One of the main functions of the Antigua-based CSA is to maintain a handicap rule for yachts which allows for the enormous variety of boats present and which visit the Caribbean each season to race without a huge cost of measurement. The CSA rule is a measurement rule which minimizes inconsistencies that might occur through subjective estimates of a boat’s speed potential. The rule is managed by a chief measurer, Jeffrey Chen of Trinidad, and supported by measurers in each of the member territories.

“There have been only a few minor improvements made to the Rule for 2008,” Chen says. One of these is a new category of Internal Accommodation Factor (IAF), which is ‘Ultralight’.

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“This expands the previous scale of ‘Light’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Heavy’. By adding to the scale at the top end we are providing the ability for measurers to separate the racing boats with no or minimal interior from the racing boats and racer-cruisers with full/partial light-weight interiors,” Chen explains.
He adds, “We have also moved the Jib and Pole TCF (Time Correction Factor) and Two Jib TCF closer to the Spinnaker TCF. This was in response to competitors who thought that the difference between the headsail TCFs and the Spinnaker TCFs were favoring the headsail boats in mixed classes.”
The CSA Handicap Rule has also now administratively identified the bareboats with separate certificates.

Chen concludes, “The changes made this season should provide fairer racing in the mixed classes and help regatta organizers with the registration of bareboats.”


The key to fast results, says Paul Miller, an avid sailor and owner of Carib Data, a UK-based IT and database programming consultancy, is “a central system into which the finish times are entered from the committee boat.”

Four years ago, Miller, who served as tactician aboard hot race boats such as
Devastator, Mermaid and Synergy, implemented a real-time system that has ensured a seamless integration of the entry form, scratch sheets and CSA handicaps straight through to race results.

“In the BVI, we’ve been using a CCT Boatphone (BVI Cellular) wireless internet connection on the committee boat. From there, the finish times go straight into the server in the UK so that readers from around the world can see the results calculated every time they refresh their web page. Even if only some boats have finished, we can still show the partial results and the best that the remaining boats can do in that race.”

This year at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival, says Miller, “We’re going to roll out the real-time screens. We actually did this in 2002, but the television was hard to see in the daylight and of course with just one screen, there was a limited opportunity for people to see it. This year, it’s more and bigger screens so spectators should be able to see the results even before we print – and of course we always print earlier than other systems.”

Miller adds, “The web pages are also getting a fresh look this year, with quick access to individual race details and more information on the boats. We’ll also be adding some of the series analysis pages to the public site this year. On those pages you will be able to see at a glance how close the racing was in a race.”

Miller’s Carib Data system was in use this year for the St. Croix International 

Regatta, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Culebra Heineken International Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, Virgin Islands Race Week, Red Funnel Cowes Keelboat Championship, and the Cowes Solent Keelboat Championship along with the usual array of one-design sailing in Cowes.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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