Veteran Handicap Events - Operating Notes

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UNOFFICIAL - Reproduced from British Rowing Almanack 2004 pp 191-192. Notes in [italics and square brackets] are comments I've added. Please check with the latest edition of the Almanack for the latest information.

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Racing under a National Standard of Handicapping had been introduced as a means of expanding the opportunities for Veteran Competition in Regattas and Long Distance Events.

An Age / Performance characteristic has been established on which a table of time differentials between Veteran age categories is based. This enables competitors in dissimilar categories to compete against one another on fair terms.

The characteristic is the same for typical Regatta distances and for Heads. The latter are now accommodated in this first revision of the operating notes.

Handicap Table

Table 1 [reproduced below (press the "Show handicapping data" button)] sets out time differentials (handicap) for each age category relative to Veteran A over a range of Standard Times. These are in two groups, the first related to Regatta distances and the second related to Heads.

The Standard Time is that which a Veteran A or Open crew or sculler would take to cover the course on the day of the event when all local conditions are accounted for.

The table may be used for any category of boat and for men or women.

Operating Notes - Regattas

  1. Purpose - The introduction of handicap events is primarily to create a race where otherwise there would be none. It is therefore regarded as applicable where only one crew in each age category has been entered in a particular event.
  2. The Course - Crews should be started and finished level or recognising the natural stagger for all crews at these points for the particular course. Stake boats should be used if possible. The handicap time differential will be applied at the Start with the older crew being started ahead of the younger crew by the amount of the handicap.
  3. Standard Time - The Regatta will determine the Standard Time to be observed and the appropriate handicaps from Table 1. This information will be made available to the competitors.
  4. Start Procedure - The start procedure recommended is based on counting out loud the handicap being given. Once the Starter has seen that the crews are ready he will say "Attention - Go - 10 - 9 - 8 ... - 3 - 2 - 1 - Go". The second [younger] crew will start on the second "Go" without being named. The count will be in whole seconds and in the example given would represent a handicap of 11 seconds. A stopwatch should [I think must] be used to ensure an accurate countdown. The Starter should explain to the crews the method he is to adopt. [There's an animated example of this start procedure here.]
  5. Readiness - Between the start of the first and second crew, it is the responsibility of the crew last away to maintain itself straight and ready for the start. The countdown will assist in this.
  6. False Start - In the event of either crew carrying out a False Start the race should be stopped in the normal way. A second False Start will lead to a disqualification under the normal Rules of Racing.
  7. Umpires - When competing crews are at different points along the course in the early stages Umpires should be a alert to either crew gaining an advantage by departing from its allotted station.
  8. The Finish - This will be judged in the normal way. The crew finishing first will be declared the winner.

Important Note for Regattas

It is recommended that competition under handicap conditions is limited to crews in adjacent age categories.

Regattas are particularly requested not to assemble all Veteran entries in one boat type into one event using the handicap system as a justification. This is a misuse of the system. The following is an example of the right way of dealing with a typical entry.

Veteran Single Sculls

The wrong way can result in a final with Veteran F against Veteran B with a huge handicap in what becomes a time trial. This is not a satisfactory racing situation

The right way ensures that the single veteran entries get an event in realistic racing situation. The Veteran C entry gets a race without handicap since there is already a bona fide race for the Veteran Bs.

Operating Notes - Heads

  1. Application - Heads which offer Veteran categories may find entries limited in any one category, particularly in the older age groups. Competition in any one category is limited or non-existent. To create a generalised category for Veterans clearly favours the younger crews irrespective of the true merits of the older competitors. With the handicap table for Long Distance Events it is now possible for Heads to allow limited numbers of Veterans to compete against one another fairly.
  2. Standard Time - This will be determined from the finish time of the Veteran A or Open entry on the day [presumably in the corresponding boat class, although this isn't explictly stated].
  3. Corrected Time - The Handicaps for each category will be determined from Table 1 once the Standard Time is known and will be deducted from the finish time of each crew to produce a corrected result from which the finishing order may be determined.

Veteran Handicapping Data - UNOFFICIAL Calculator

Veteran Classes
Standard Race Time (mm:ss)

Example - 1000 m - coxed four - standard time 3:20 - handicap C/D = 8 s - handicap F/G = 9 s


Looking at the data in the handicapping tables, it is clear that a linear relationship between Standard Time and Handicap has been assumed. Handicap Factors, expressed as "seconds of Handicap" per "minute of Standard Time" can be calculated from the published table. To work out the handicap time, calculcate the difference in Handicap Factor (below) for the appropriate Veteran categories, then multiply this by the Standard Time in minutes.

e.g. (taking the example from the Almanack), 1000m 4+, standard time 3:20.

Graphs of Handicap vs Standard Time for all Veteran categories