Race the clock, or the crew next to you?

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Here at GigRower we don’t think the progression of crews through a regatta based on lap times are fair or much fun, especially for large events – are you racing the clock and conditions, or are you racing the crew next to you?

A perfect example of this was on day one of the 2011 Ladies Championships at Newquay. Round 1 races 14 and 15 were started with an altered course due to problems with sea conditions on the start line. A time adjustment (of an unknown formula) was to be added to their course time – how is this fun or fair for the 13 races that had just taken place? The 16th race was also abandoned and run the following day when conditions had again changed. Who knows how many crews were disadvantaged overall?

Whilst an event may produce the “right” top 12 crews, it’s not about these crews. It’s about taking the bulk of the fleet seriously (not just expecting them to make up the numbers), and giving all comers a chance to race and perform fairly as well as taking a result away that they feel they have achieved on merit and not at the mercy of the weather, conditions or organisation (as much as possible).

Here’s an alternative purely as a means to generate discussion, for 96 entrants, for a weekend championships and assumes we have from 9am until 6pm to race (9 hours) each day to work with.

  • Multiple opening rounds, random lane and boat selections.
  • Seeding is carried out so that the top 16 are evenly spread out.
  • Round 1 and round 2 use a short course so races are around 10 minutes, still with 2 turns but so best crews take 8-9 mins, and worst 11-12mins (not 20+ minutes of slogging
    away for the same result).
  • The opening rounds are used to split the fleet into two tiers “TIER_1” and “TIER_2” (48 crews in each).
  • more racing (all crews race at least twice – and up to 6 times).
  • more chances to prove yourself.
  • more recognition for crews.
  • more crews present on both days to enjoy the atmosphere and hospitality.


ROUND 1 (96 crews) = 16 races of 6 crews per race.
Progression : 1st and 2nd place of each race go straight to ROUND 3 (at the start of day 2, where we need 48 crews). So, 32 progress straight to ROUND 3, the remaining 64 race again in ROUND 2.
Round 1 time required : Pair of races on course at same time. 1st race starts followed by 2nd races after 5 mins first (17 mins total) then add 5 minutes for crew changes. So, 8 pairs of
races at 22 mins is 8 x 22 = 176 minutes
ROUND 2 (64 crews) = 16 races of 4 crews per race.
Progression : 1st place goes to Round 3 (16 winners progress and 48 remain in the “TIER_2” fleet – maybe to race again on day 2?).
Round 2 time required : Time taken is same as round 1 (176 minutes) but with only 4 boats changing over on beach, things should be quicker. [NB : It may even be possible to race 3 groups of 4 boats around the course at the same time, further speeding up the round.]
Estimated total time to run day 1 is 2 x 176 mins, or about 6 hours with ample time for umpire changeovers, lunch and weather delays.


ROUND 3 (48 “TIER_1” crews) = 8 races of 6 crews.
Progression : Top 3 crews progress to QUARTER FINALS.
Time required for ROUND 3 = 4 x 22 = 88 mins.

** Race course now switches to the “long” course for next 7 races **
(assuming 15-18mins for a good lap, a pair of races now takes 30 mins to run being 18 for race 1 lap, a 7 min gap, and 5 min changeover)

QUARTER FINALS (24 “TEIR 1” crews) = 4 races of 6 crews.
Progression : Top 3 crews progress to SEMI FINALS.
Time required for QUARTER FINALS = 4 x 30 = 120 mins.

** Pool of boats now reduces to 6, voted by remaining club representatives **
SEMI FINALS (12 “TIER_1” crews) = 2 races of 6 crews.
Progression : Top 3 progress to FINAL.
Time required for SEMI FINALS = 2 x 23 (18 min race plus 5 min changeover) = 46 mins.
FINAL (6 “TIER_1” crews) = 1 race of 6 crews.

Progression : 1 race of 6 boats, optional “double lap” final course.
Time required for FINALS is between 18 and 36 mins.
Total time to run day 2 : 272 mins or 4.5 hours.

Other thoughts :

If you doubled up and raced the “TIER 2” fleet in the same way as the TIER_1 fleer on day 2 you could have finals for the “TIER 1” and “TIER 2” fleets and still only take around 9 hours as long as discipline and organisation is kept up (some of the ROUND 3 racing could easily take place at the end of DAY 1 as the effect of wind and tide is now irrelevant).

Your thoughts? Please leave them below…

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  1. Ali

    I like a lot of what’s being said here there are only 2 things I would add

    1 maybe you should seed the top 36 crews so as to try and even out the groups as much as possible.


    2. Use the results from iOS not the tributes because the tributes won’t take into account crews like the dutch, Falmouth b, caradon b, and Newquay b who I think all finished in the top 12.

    Fist time I’ve posted on here so be gentle with your comments 🙂

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