Kevin's win in race 8 has got me mulling over the vexed question of Laser handicaps again, and I'm going to do a bit of number crunching (I do have some odd hobbies). Why is it that Lasers seem to get so few race wins? Goodness knows its not a question of ability, because the top of the Laser fleet is demonstrably of as high a standard as Solo and RS fleets, yet seem to get less race wins. We are also using a revised handicap for the Laser which is statistically well founded. so how come out of 8 races 13 top 3 places and 6 wins have gone to RStwo handers (3 sailors represented), 8 top 3 places and 1 win to Solos (3 sailors) and just two top 3 places and 12 win to Lasers? This exercise will have to ignore other classes as only these three have enough entries to be reasonably statistically useful.
The first bit of number crunching I did was on average finishing time. The RS200 fleet has averaged 109% of the winner's corrected time and both Solo and Laser fleets 110%. That suggests that the handicaps, viewing the fleets as a whole, are pretty accurate if you make the assumption that all three fleets have a similar spread of ability. Bearing in mind that the variation between frst and last is usually something over 20% to get such close averages is moderately suprising, and does suggest that statistical techniques are reasonably valid for evaluating the data.
So, the handicap is reasonable, what else could it be? The more I get into this the more of a challenge understanding the phenomenum seems to be - its certainly right at the boundaries of my statistical knowledge. At the moment its looking as if the way I deal with results for the personal handicap may need to be changed to examine this situation... I've "phoned a friend" (well emailed) to ask for suggestions... At the moment I'm seeing a suggestion that the distribution curve of the Laser data is more skewed than the other fleets - basically that relatively fewer sailors are finish in much faster times than the main body of the fleet and that more sailors finish in slower times. If that is a genuine observation, and not just an artifact of the way I'm treating the data then it does have considerable implications for how one goes about calculating fair handicaps for both the top end and the middle of the fleet.