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Handicap timing app

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    Posted: 22 Jan 20 at 4:36pm
Afternoon All,
I've developed a timing app to make timing (PYN or IRC) handicap races much easier.

You simply have to enter the boats beforehand (or schedule the race and let competitors enter themselves online) and then click a button every time they cross the line. It will calculate corrected times and series results, and can echo the results to a club website as soon as the race finishes.

It can also time pursuit races, and the start times (with countdowns) can be viewed live on as many other devices as you like.

It runs in a browser (so the OOD does not need to download anything on to their phone) and it is very robust. If your phone (or laptop, tablet, etc) goes swimming you can pick up the race on another device. If you're in an area without internet access, races will be saved on your device until you have a data connection.

For big events, multiple phones can work together on the same race.

It's now in beta version, and I'd be extremely grateful for any feedback - from work flow to typos. Fingers crossed you like it as it's been a huge amount of work.

The URL is https://ood2.net

Many Thanks
Simon

Edited by MerlinMags - 23 Jan 20 at 8:05am
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Neptune View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Neptune Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 20 at 5:42pm
Been looking for something like that for a while Simon to help OOD record results. Can it manage multiple starts/ fleets?  Can the results be exported to a csv file or similar for import to the likes of sailwave (historical reasons)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 20 at 6:29pm
Whenever I've tried automating timing the thing that has really bitten me has been managing close finishes with multiple boats, so that's the area that really needs to be sorted out. In the traditional "one spotting one writing" system you've got quite a lot of flexibility, but when I've tried computer based systems if I got overloaded in a close finish I lost chunks of data with no hope of recovering it. Video recording the finish with an on screen timer is one fallback that has occurred to me, but my systems have been PC based without cameras available.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sighmoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 20 at 9:57pm
Originally posted by Neptune

Been looking for something like that for a while Simon to help OOD record results.
Great.

Originally posted by Neptune

Can it manage multiple starts/ fleets?
An individual device can currently only manage one start at a time, but that start can be split into multiple fleets. Class fleets, fast & slow handicap fleets and user defined fleets (i.e junior) can be sifted automatically from general handicap results. This assumes they share a start but arguably with a one design fleet(s) the exact timings don't matter, so you could still run them in with handicap fleet on the one start on the app, and the app could then sift their finish order (and series points) .
If you have multiple starts, multiple devices may prove more workable though.
It's primarily intended to be used from a smartphone and I think a multitude of large fleets on a small screen may make for confusion.

Originally posted by Neptune

 Can the results be exported to a csv file or similar for import to the likes of sailwave (historical reasons)
It can't directly export a csv for Sailwave; however it does pretty well everything Sailwave does, so perhaps it doesn't need to(?). If it were absolutely necessary, the results are displayed in a table and you could easily copy and paste it into XL and produce a csv from there. [edit - I'm workign on it]


Edited by Sighmoon - 24 Jan 20 at 6:12am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sighmoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 20 at 10:13pm
Originally posted by JimC

Whenever I've tried automating timing the thing that has really bitten me has been managing close finishes with multiple boats, so that's the area that really needs to be sorted out. In the traditional "one spotting one writing" system you've got quite a lot of flexibility, but when I've tried computer based systems if I got overloaded in a close finish I lost chunks of data with no hope of recovering it. Video recording the finish with an on screen timer is one fallback that has occurred to me, but my systems have been PC based without cameras available.
For a large fleet, the intended workflow is that (by searching or scrolling) you create an ordered shortlist of the pack approaching the finish line, then all you have to do is click one button as they cross. Any times missed can be added manually later. 

Fundamentally, clicking a button has to be much quicker than writing results by hand  - you don't have to find the boat on the sign-in sheet and then copy the time off a stop watch. There will still be boats hidden behind other boats; you could mitigate this by sharing the finish with another device and working from opposite sides of the line, but if it's a large event, there is no substitute for video footage as an insurance policy.


Edited by Sighmoon - 22 Jan 20 at 10:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 20 at 5:31am
Well, see how you get on. Those are the issues that have bitten me hard trying things in real life, the other one i should have added is boats being lapped which really messed up my ordered list... I couldn't add times manually later because once my workload exceeded my ability to click the right button in time there was no other way to capture the data.

Electronic capture damn well ought to be the right way to go, now i think of it i wonder if a custom key pad area on a tablet might help, i did all my experiments on laptop keyboards which were just too clumsy...

It may also have been an issue that i was attempting to make it a single handed job. Changing focus between out of the window and onto the screen takes time. Maybe it would have been better to retain one shouting and one writing, and just use the automation for speeding up subsequent data entry. That would also mean that a sound recording of race box/committee boat would provide a backup. I have wondered in the past about having a radio feed from committee boat to office to speed up results too.

I suppose the most important thing i have to offer is to think about worst cases. My attempts worked fine for 90% of the fleet 90% of the time, but when they went wrong it was catastrophic. Somehow i could never manage to test a worst case solution on the desk.

Basically i'm just trying to offer you my mistakes to learn from 'cos learning from other people's failures is so much better than learning from your own!

Edited by JimC - 23 Jan 20 at 5:50am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sighmoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 20 at 6:48am
Hi Jim. You're up early.

Thanks very much for the feedback. Yes, testing it out of the office is the thing. 

Being lapped oughtn't be an issue - you simply record the time of each boat every time it crosses the line and some will have more laps recorded than others. Unless you tell it otherwise, the app assumes a shortened course for the boats with less laps recorded.

I guess with any system, there is a crunch point when the density of finishers exceeds the timekeeper's ability to record them. I would expect that crunch point to occur more rarely with a one-click system than with one that involved writing down. And that could be mitigated by more people helping the OOD and ultimately by video (with audio) backup.

The achilles heel of the system would be a downwind finish of a large one-design fleet such that the sail numbers are hidden behind their spinnakers.

I suppose at an app level, if the OOD has anticipated it, what can be done is the distinguishing features ('pink spinnaker, helm has a red baseball cap, etc) are entered as notes against each boat early on. I can rejig the boat search so that it looks in the notes and allows non-numerical input. Would that suffice?

What is the greatest density of finishers you've experienced, in terms of boats per second? And for how long was it sustained?

Regards,
Simon
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 20 at 8:25am
The difference with writing things down is that its easier to do partial input. You can write down partial numbers and just seconds when its busy and sort it out later. Much more difficult to do things like that with data input.

I probably wasn't clear about lapped boats: supposing, say, you have ordered your boats by position on previous laps, but at the finish the boats with one lap less are intermingled with the others. You find yourself jumping up and down the list all the time because you might get (to list on the water places at previous lap), 1,2,45,3,4,46,8,25,5,6. (25 capsized half way round)...

As for density, sometimes it just submerges any possible means of recording. I've seen a sea breeze coming in from behind the fleet on a windless day which had around 35 boats finishing in under a minute... I'm sure the results of one race I participated in were just one big guess (and the result cost me in the series, it still hurts), but no-one knows any better.

I've been puzzling over how one could get some test data. I could send you some Sailwave files, but it wouldn't give you the complications of how they've jumbled themselves up from previous laps, and of course there's the problem of finding out the difficult races. I fear I'm not going to volunteer to go through a few hundred races to find the ones with the closest finishers!

What you could do with would be a video of the entire race of one of the major winter events, then you could try it out. Or of course trek all the way down south and get on a committee boat!

Another interesting situation to consider is dead heats. We demand such ridiculous levels of accuracy (which incidentally is why tracking technology is not yet up to snuff). I'm sure I've seen situations like 5 boats finishing in the same second, with two different dead heats. For handicap racing of course nearest second is all the resolution you have and need, but if say you are extracting fleet results from the handicap race then they want the extra detail.

Cycle racing might be worthy of study - that's another discipline where big bunched finishes are common. However I seem to remember seeing that for really big bunches they don't even try and give the whole gaggle the same time.


Edited by JimC - 23 Jan 20 at 8:39am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sighmoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 20 at 11:23am
Thanks Jim,

I'm grateful for the support.

The problem with testing it from youtube is quite often the quality is not good enough to discern the sail numbers when you see them rounding the windward mark. In a big one-design event, networking the race across multiple devices will cut down an individual's workload, but I think you'd still want video backup. In a handicap race the fleet would generally be that bit more spread out.

35 boats in a minute would be intense. I think one person could reliably click a finisher  every second, *if* they had a few seconds break to line them up in between bunches (say 4-5 seconds per boat). So recording that lot, assuming (wrongly) that they were evenly spread out in that pack, you could just about do it if you had 3 people recording times.

The racing rules do allow for a tie (a.7), but they don't specify what level of precision makes a photo finish a tie. I've deemed it to be within 1 second. With a committee boat swinging at anchor and bobbing up and down in the swell, and the buoy disappearing behind a melee of boats, even a second may be more precise than it is accurate. The resolution of Portsmouth Yardstick numbers is about 3 seconds.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sighmoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 20 at 10:20am
Originally posted by Neptune

Been looking for something like that for a while Simon to help OOD record results. Can it manage multiple starts/ fleets?  Can the results be exported to a csv file or similar for import to the likes of sailwave (historical reasons)
After an edit, the results can now be exported to a csv.

Fleets with different start times are next on the list.
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