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Joint ORA/US Sailing data-quality initiative will improve rating accuracy

by Offshore Racing Rule 16 Nov 2019 08:34 PST
Based on a velocity prediction program, the Offshore Rating Rule handicaps cruisers and all-out racers such as in this Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division fleet at the start of the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race © Daniel Forster / PPL

The Offshore Racing Association (ORA), owner of the ORR rating rule, and US Sailing have launched a new initiative to significantly improve data collection, input processes and quality control measures of boat measurement data in US Sailing's sailboat-measurement database. Together, the ORA and US Sailing will design and implement an integrated system and related processes that will ensure the integrity and accuracy of ORR and other rating rule certificates US Sailing administers.

Behind every racing rule is some element of human input, and the possibility of small defects and errors has always existed. Recent analysis by the ORR Technical Committee of a sampling of 2018 and 2019 ORR rating certificates uncovered an unacceptable level of data errors from several sources including boat measurers, sailmakers, data input and certificates issued for other measurement rules.

"While most of the errors we have found in the data are minor and we expect the corrections will change few ratings to a significant degree, we are committed to ensuring that sailors and organizing authorities using the ORR rule have the highest confidence in their ratings," said John Horton, ORA Executive Director. "We appreciate that US Sailing has taken seriously the issues we've raised and will work alongside us to develop this initiative to benefit users of all rating-rule certificates issued by US Sailing."

Jack Gierhart, the CEO of US Sailing said, "Data integrity and the accuracy of the rating certificates we issue our members are of the utmost importance to us. We are grateful our partners at ORA have identified these issues, and will be working with us to provide the highest level of data accuracy to ensure fair racing in the U.S."

A full audit of the data for approximately 700 existing and new certificates will be completed before the Puerta Vallarta Race, Newport Bermuda Race, Bayview Mackinac Race and Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, among others, all of which use the ORR. Additionally, quality-control software and data collection procedures will be implemented to minimize any future data-input errors.

"Today's software systems provide us with tools that were not available in the past," said Jim Teeters, ORR Technical Director. "By creating digital, visual representations of the measurement data, we can make it easier for trained reviewers to see if some input number is incorrect."

The ORA is supported in this effort through initial funding from the Newport Bermuda Race Foundation.

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