It is coming up to RYA dinghy show time which seems to be the traditional time that Portsmouth Yardstick Numbers are issued for the current year.
Now I know that if you only race other Albacores then this is of no interest, however we race in an active dinghy club on the Solent where we are the only Albacore, and race against a healthy mixture of Finns, RS200s, Wayfarers, Hadrons, National 12s, Lasers and Aeros - so to us the PYN is very important.
We have a relatively recent competive Albacore number 8153 and replace sails every couple of years, and yes our club does post returns to the RYA.
What is noticeable to us is that the Albacore PYN has decreased (ie got worse) every year from 2010 (1065) to 2017 (1041). OK 2015 to 2016 it stayed the same.
So what seems remarkable is that in the last 7 years the Albacore has become 24 points faster, not bad for a 1953 designed boat, with no recent major upgrades.
Now I know that other boats have been adjusted as well, so this is not just linear however we have gone from rating slower than RS200s for example to now rating quite a bit faster.
The PYN system is based on returns, soit is a performance related handicap - returns for 2017 show 1934 races for Albacores. (seems high)
My question is whether the Albacore Association has ever queried these returns with the RYA.
I would want to know which clubs these results with the fast Albacores are coming from - are they in the UK? Then we could make sure that these are certificated Albacores, and then perhaps ask the club(s) to run a master class to the rest of us normal club sailors.
Its all very well just saying sail faster, we need to know whether someone is really already sailing faster (is the data accurate) and if so to pass the knowledge on.
Does anyone have any insights on this?
Our club returns results to the RYA for the three boats in the club and it's rare to get more than one out at a time nowadays. The Albacore is the fastest boat on the lake sailing handicap races against Lasers, Comets, YW Dayboats etc. We had to win by about 9 minutes to get a first place so usually managed to come about fifth! Last year we started using the RYA suggested numbers for the club which gave the Albacore 1059 and us a series second place after several on the water wins when there was a decent breeze.
When we sail at Albacore open events we're back markers.
We need more racing improvers and average sailors to discover the Albacore and give us more average returns - it's notable that the Topaz Uno Race is a handicap bandit for a light adult at 1200 because it is usually sailed by novice or average junior racers.
So recruitment to the class is the key to a better handicap.
We sail at Lyme on the sea. It is what I call a "Drag Race" course in that if conditions are steady, the fastest class will win. Rs 800s beat Merlins which beat Albs which beat Lasers. We have tried "pricing the Laser in" by giving it a very high handicap to no avail except when a Laser Squad member came racing one day and actually won a race (so unusual that we all remembered !).
If the Alb is the fastest class on the water for a race, then usually an Alb will win. Our Club results are submitted automatically by Hal.
Clubs can adopt their own PY numbers but it is politically very difficult - at least now everyone moans at the RYA not at the Club.
I do not know why the Alb has a continuously reducing handicap. Baz Edmonds of the RYA will say the numbers just reflect what is submitted to them.
Like TimPR, I am the only Albacore at my club which is an inland club. The main fleets are Solos and Streakers. The fast handicap fleet has declined over the years and there are now only a few double handers which go out, namely Enterprise, RS200, Graduate and me as well as a Nat 12. Strangely, the Nat 12 has been placed in the fast handicap fleet, just out of range of the Solos and Streakers (wonder why) which gives him a huge advantage over the rest of us. I have raised the fleet handicap split as well as the Alb handicap before, but no-one seems interested and being on my own they are reluctant to give me a revised PN on what they feel would be effectively a personal handicap. My club race positions generally mirror those of OldBlueOne, being around 5th, give or take. As a result I'm gradually losing interest and only went out twice last year as I don't feel I have a chance of a fair fight. Most of my sailing was at open meetings in Flying Fifteens. My boat is a 1976 hull in good condition, but has a modern mast, sails and foils as well as modern control systems. At the few Alb opens I have been to (Rudyard, Notts and Carsington), I have been mid fleet to back marker and have been happy with that as I've had other boats to race and compare myself to.
Like Tim, I can't see how the boat has increased that much in performance and if he is having problems in a modern boat then it would appear that the class does have a problem in mixed fleets at club level.
The subject has been raised on here before by me and others, but I haven't seen a considered or formal response from the class officers in the form of action, so perhaps the class considers itself mainly a fleet pursuing class racing rather than promoting the boat at club level in mixed handicap where I believe it still has an excellent role to play in introducing people to a moderate performance boat with good all round qualities both inland and at sea.
After completing some structural works, we are doing some upgrades to Alb 6922.
When asked what the handicap was I replied around 1060, showing how out of touch I am, I was quite nervous when we read the handicap is 1041.
I wonder if more crews are sailing their boats faster, driving the numbers down?
We have now sailed a handful of races, Inland in a mixed fleet which includes some very well sailed Merlins, we noticed a disadvantage more on the course than on boat speed, a long run down wind with kites up put us at a disadvantage. When the course suited the Alb the boat was well in the mix on handicap, indeed we have managed a fair share of bullets.
I don't know what the Committee position is on this matter, if crews are becoming disillusioned then a conversation will be needed with the RYA
There have been no 'giant leaps' in Albacore developments in many years, I does beg the question with many developments in other classes taking place recently, whether one would expect the Alb to improve on handicap by remaining static.