July 29, 2010


While Fleet Returns to Mainland, Race Officials do some Recalculating -- Horizon's clean sweep gets cleaner

Kanoehe, Hawaii – All but two or three of the competitors have left the warm embrace of Kaneohe Yacht Club for their home waters. Some, like Limit are heading to Australia, while others have regular berths elsewhere on Oahu. Most of the competitors come from the US Mainland, and are either being sailed or shipped back. Even though they are gone, however, the administration of the race continues.

Latitude 38 Trophy to Horizon: An overlooked section of the Sailing Instructions has caused a recalculation in the Performance Trophy sponsored by Latitude 38 Magazine. The trophy, intended to recognize the degree to which a division winner outpaced its division overall, is awarded based on a statistical measure known as a “Standard Deviation.”

Since divisions are of varying compositions and start on different days, the statistical measure is used to characterize the fleet’s overall performance range and compare a finisher’s results to that range. A boat that finishes four hours ahead of the average time of a fleet that finished spread out over just a few hours, therefore, will score better than a boat with a similar margin over a fleet that was spread out over several days.

Our Sailing instructions required us to drop the bottom 20% of finishers from the calculation, as these are often victims of gear breakdown and other non-performance issues, but the initial calculation did not. When calculated in accordance with our own instructions, Horizon came out as the boat that had beat its division by the greatest percentage of its own fleet’s standard deviation. Sweet Okole, the originally-announced winner had certainly performed well, but the change in boats in the calculation drove a different mathematical result.

Honors to Navigator: For many years, Pacific Cup has awarded a navigation award to the navigator who shows skill in traditional navigation – use of a sextant and chronometer to calculate position, coupled with the use of a paper log to calculate a successful course. As the use of sextants has dwindled to virtually nothing in recent races, the board and committees of PCYC looked to different criteria and announced the award to Pegasus in recognition of contributions generally to the science and technology of navigation.

Numerous racers suggested, however, that a Navigator’s award should recognize a course navigated, presumably to success. The trophy committee re-examined the issue and concluded that such a point had merit. A Navigator’s Award has been made to Jon Shampain, of Horizon, for his meticulous work in specifying a course in wildly unusual weather conditions that took his boat to victory. “I called the finish layline from 843 miles out,” pointed out Shampain, justifiably proud of his work that has been a lifelong avocation.

Skillful navigation in the modern era of distance racing no longer depends on knowing where you are, which is available at the press of a button with GPS, but instead on knowing where you should be. It appears that all across the Pacific, Jon knew where to be.

Horizon's navigator could not be reached for comment, as he is part of the return crew or "Back Cup" as some waggish skippers call it, for Horizon.