MAX EBB — IF YOU RACE IT, boats have which crew for each race.” “Then, for each boat that finishes, you look at whether the finish is better or worse than its average finish for the season to date. . .” “Oh, I get it!” interrupted the foredeck crew. “With multivariate regression you can calculate the statistical effect of each individual crew person on how well the boat finishes!” “But you wouldn’t know the result ‘til the end of the season,” said another crew. They went on to discuss normality of residuals, homogeneous variances and normal distributions, finally concluding that yes, it could work, and also that it could be easily incorporated into the race results program already in use by the club for its summer evening beer can series. “So let me see if I understand this,” I said. “At the end of the season, the crew of the boat that wins the most gets some kind of award?” “Not exactly,” said Lee. “It’s the crew that has the biggest positive influence on a boat’s finish position that gets the award. A boat that wins all the time would have nothing to offer a crew who wants to compete for this prize.” “Right,” said the foredeck. “It’s a lot easier to gain places at the bottom of the fleet than at the top. So any crew who wants to compete for this would look for a boat that’s doing poorly, but has potential to do much better. If they can hop on and help bring the boat in higher up in the fleet than usual, then they score positive ‘crew-factor’ points. If the boat has a bad finish when they are on board, then they score negative.” “So all the good crew would want to get on the slowest boats in the fleet?” I said. “For sure,” confirmed Lee. “And like, that’s exactly what your friend needs.” “I could live with that system,” he smiled. “Of course, after I start doing well with all these hot crew, then they’d jump ship to the next turkey with a fast boat that they could bring up to speed.” “Sounds like a good way to run beer can races to me,” I agreed. “But we gotta make those crew prizes really worth going for,” said the foredeck crew. “Free tickets to dinner meetings?” I suggested.

Lee made a face. “Maybe restaurant gift certificates. But like, it would have to be a running ranking system with the top crew getting a prize every week. None of this waiting until the end of the season — we could just use the previous five races or something.” “You realize what this means,” I said to my friend. “You have to drag your boat out there and let everyone beat you for five weeks in a row. Then Lee and her crew come on board and clean up.” “That part comes naturally,” he sighed. “But it still won’t help me hold on to good crew for YRA racing.” “Like, what kind of lunches do you serve on that boat?” asked Lee. “And does your crew get boat shirts and jackets? “And fancy pastries and extra snacks on two-race days? “And crew parties at nice restaurants? “And business cards with their name and crew position?” “Okay, maybe those homemade ham sandwiches are a little on the mundane side,” he admitted. “Hey, great lunches and crew swag are still way cheaper than new sails,” Lee insisted. “And like, they get you more extra speed around the course, if they attract better crew.” “You’re right, it’s all a lot less expensive than exotic sails and a professional bottom job,” he admitted. “But if I had the crew to go with them, I wouldn’t even mind spending the money on the new sails.” “Gotta spend the bucks first to attract the crew,” said Lee.

"You can tell she doesn't play golf."

Page 152 •

Latitude 38

• February, 2006

A

ctually there’s an even better way to attract great crew to a less-than-competitive boat,” suggested the foredeck crew. “Which is?” “Just drop a hint that you’re going to enter the race to Hawaii this summer. That attracts crew like flies to a dead snake on a hot country road.” “It would work for me,” said Lee. “Hold on there,” said the boat owner. “New sails, great lunches and dinners, and logo gear for the crew is one thing. Racing to Hawaii requires some serious

upgrades and a lot of planning. There’s the single sideband radio, the liferaft, the emergency rudder, all those flares, the food, the return delivery, the insurance, and tons of little stuff that has to be done.” “You still have time,” I said. “This year it looks like they’re going to be just short of the limit on the number of entries, so you can still get your entry in any time before April 1. “Still, there’s so much to do. But you know, it’s not entirely out of the question.” Ears pricked up around the table. “I can borrow a liferaft, if you get it re-certified,” volunteered the foredeck crew. “And I know where there’s an SSB that doesn’t have any plans for the summer,” said Lee. “and I can build a quick and dirty emergency rudder out of some old windsurfer centerboards that will pass inspection.”

R

ace crew from other boats seemed to mysteriously appear at our table. “Hold on, hold on,” said the boat’s owner. “This is all very hypothetical. A race to Hawaii has to be planned. . .” “We’ve got five whole months!” said another young woman who had brought over a bag of brownies from another table. “That’s almost half a year to get ready.” She passed a brownie to the potential skipper. “I have some great recipes for frozen casseroles.” “Still a lot to do. . .” “They make the race prep a little simpler every year,” said Lee. “Like for example, this year they finally did away with the double water tank requirement. Installed tanks with hoses, pumps and valves are just about the least reliable way to store drinking water, and it was really brain-dead to require that water be in tanks where it could leak out unnoticed. Much much better to keep water in small bottles, where it’s secure and easy to inventory, instead of in that second tank.” “That helps,” said the owner. “I helped prepare a boat for this race many years ago, and installing that second tank was a pain. But there are other big-ticket time and expense items like the raft, the SSB and the emergency rudder.” “Those are gradually being simplified,” said Lee. “Are you suggesting they might allow

# Latitude 38 February 2006

The April 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

# Latitude 38 February 2006

The April 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.