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Is luck a bigger factor ...?

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: General
Forum Name: Olympic Sailing
Forum Discription: The top end racing in our sport
Printed Date: 11 Aug 22 at 3:19am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Is luck a bigger factor ...?
Posted By: 2547
Subject: Is luck a bigger factor ...?
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 9:35am
... for Olympic sailors.
As we know the more we practice the luckier we get, but is it a bigger factor for Olympians?
The sport has many dimensions which make it interesting:
- Strategy
- Tactics
- Equipment
- Fitness of crew
- Suitability of crew to craft
- Boat handing
- Stright line speed
- ... and so on ...
- and of course the odd lucky break ...
With most club, open and national standard weekend sailors there is a range of ability in all these areas and so the final item, luck, is perhaps only a small impact on the overall result so usually the same person wins.
At the top level all the controllable elements will have been nailed down to near perfection through the application of considerable time and resource ... so all the teams are pretty much performing at 99% on all the controllable elements of the sport.
That means there are only minor differences in boathanding & speed for instance that would be big differences at a lower level ...
So at the top level is luck a much more infulencing factor which is why the top guys really should be on a fair course area where as we can tollerate shifty puddles at a club level as there is so much variance in the other areas to define the result.

Posted By: JohnW
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 11:15am
I guess you probably have to define "luck" at this level.

One guy's lucky shift, is another's expected shift having tracked the wind patterns and seen it coming.
or one guys unlucky gear failure is another's replaced fitting because he spend a hour checking the boat over every day.


Posted By: G.R.F.
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 11:23am
There has to be an element of good luck in that Dutch Guy having to do turns rather than steal your Gold Medal whilst you''re busy trying to see how near the back of a medal race you and your nemesis can get.Wink

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Posted By: Bootscooter
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 12:01pm
It's an interesting thought though.... if you (and the rest of the world class fleet) have already got all the controlables under control, there's only the uncontrolable and unpredictable variables left to seperate competitors.
In reality, there are still straight-line-speed differences between racers, and more often boat handling ability differences (one duff tack in an Olympic fleet could easily kill a Gold Medal chance).
I think that luck can play a big part in a single race, but not so much over a series (as has been said, it's always the same people that are "lucky"), which is why I have issues with the Nothe course and the double-points Medal Race.  There is the possibility that one-off, single race luck could dictate who receives the medals.


Posted By: Bootscooter
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 1:36pm
Well there's a perfect example....
I'm not saying Denmark didn't deserve their Bronze, and their downwind speed on that final leg was superb, but they only got back in to contention by banging left up the beat when everyone else had gone right.
Was this superb judgement, or a final roll of the dice in just doing something different? Either way, a single windline appeared that took them up the fleet.


Posted By: 2547
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 2:02pm
Luck, I don't believe they predicted that when the rest of the fleet didn't ...
They gave themselves a chance by seperating but they could have just as easily gone backwards ....

Posted By: Bootscooter
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 2:07pm


Posted By: bustinben
Date Posted: 08 Aug 12 at 3:44pm
You are always playing the percentages, because everything is so unpredictable.  That's why we have a 10 race series with discard.  If it was purely luck then you would fine an even distribution of top results amongst all top sailors.  But you don't.  So it's not down to luck, it's down to how you manage the fact that nothing is certain, and how good you are at determining between and managing the controllable and uncontrollable factors during a race.

Christensen going right was him recognizing that the shifts on the nothe course where unpredictable, and giving himself the opportunity to capitalise on that.  If he was winning he would have gone left with everyone else, but he had nothing to lose, and needed to gain, so needed some leverage. 

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