The current fleet of replica 18ft skiffs, known as Historical 18ft skiffs, is made up of boats that represent variations in the design and technology of the various eras of 18ft skiff racing spanning the period from 1906 to 1950. There is a wide variation in the application of the term “replica” to these boats, and for all sorts of reasons (cost, sourcing of materials, practicality, etc) there is a variety of equipment, rigs and construction methods that have been used to create these boats in order for them to fulfill their desired destiny of just getting on the water to provide the unique form of racing and enjoyment as their predecessors once did.
Regular club racing for these boats is run under Mark Foy system of handicap starts, where the handicaps are based on a performance handicap system that is automatically adjusted from week to week based on results. This system works well for such disparate boats, often provides for some interesting finishes, and over the course of an entire season generally rewards consistency.
Championship events such as Club championship, Australian and International events are run using scratch starts and inevitably the fastest boat will win. Apart from being well sailed, the result may also be due to the boat being based on a design from the latest permissible design era (ie 1950, 6ft beam) and/or it may be due the equipment and construction used on the boat which is more closely aligned with performance than authenticity.
Neither of the above race formats encourages nor rewards the level of authenticity of the “historical” skiffs when they compete. Without an emphasis to maintain the authenticity of the replica skiffs, there is a real danger the authenticity features could be lost altogether in pursuit of performance-based race results.
Consideration has been given to developing a rating system that would address the following:
- Accommodate combined racing of boats from different eras whilst rewarding those replicas skiffs that are more authentic.
- Encourage existing boats to consider authenticity when upgrading gear.
- Encourage prospective owners and builders to build authentic replicas from any era, in the knowledge they can still be competitive in the combined fleet racing
The full document may be downloaded below.