New 18ft skiff series
The Australian 18 Footer League will introduce a new series of races in the coming season, aimed at producing even closer racing while providing winning chances for more boats in the fleet.
The series of five races, which will be known as the '3-Buoys Challenge', will be sponsored by Winning Appliances and offers prizemoney of $5,000. It will commence on 16 October, one week after the season opener, and continue each Sunday until 13 November.
The 3-Buoys system was introduced by the League four years ago as a unique means of handicapping the fleet to provide more winning opportunities while maintaining a closely bunched fleet throughout each race. Teams are allocated individual handicaps (maximum is 10 minutes), based on previous performances, which is then dissected into a variety of ‘3-buoys colours’ on each of the three roundings. The entire fleet start at the same time, but the first windward mark is always designated as a '3-buoys' mark with white, blue and red marker buoys placed 100 metres apart (white being the furthest and red the nearest).
Skiffs with the ‘longest’ handicap benefit from the nearest ‘red’ marker buoy and set their spinnakers for the next leg of the course while the others are still working to the further ‘blue’ and ‘white’ markers. It then becomes a race where the backmarker boats have to chase the leaders. The system is repeated twice more over the course and usually results in a finish where the faster boats are closing on the leaders.
The '3-Buoys Challenge' will have a continuous pointscore applying throughout the series and there will be no discard.
Handicaps of boats finishing first, second and third will be adjusted after each race and the pointscore system will be geared (doubled) to favour the last three races.
Former Giltinan champion John Winning, who is also the club’s President said: “We want to provide our spectators with the best possible racing while also offering each team the greatest opportunity of being a winner. This format has proven itself to be extremely popular in recent seasons and we see this event as an ideal way of progressing the system to a higher profile. We will have 18 boats in our fleet during the 2011-2012 Season, and the 3-buoys system will give every one of them the chance to win a race, or even the series. It obviously also offers a better deal for our sponsors."
Close racing and chaotic mark roundings will also provide exciting video coverage, while the format also adds to the possibilities of selecting the placegetters in the ‘Pick the Podium’ competition.
The series will give more impact to the start of the Sydney season and will be a great lead in event for the major (NSW, Australian and Giltinan) titles which follow.