The Yellow Flag Rule for Average Speed Series

Ever been in one of those one loft races that has an average speed payout, based on returns over a three race series? Well, one bad race, early in the series, can end up eliminating most of the birds before the last race is even basketed. This does not make for happy campers. Most folks like to think they can be competitively "in the running" for average speed and look forward to the outcome. This is part of the excitement and enjoyment of being entered in these race series. However, one unexpected storm front and you can be 11 hours behind after the 200 of a 100, 200, 300 mile race series.

Well, is there a more fair way to conduct these series payouts? I suppose it depends on what you consider to be a fair competition. I have given it some thought and have come up with a rule that I think would be acceptable to most and would certainly take the sting out of a skewed return, yet still rewards the birds that do make it home at the top of the race sheet, on the smash races as well.

Here is my new "Yellow Flag" rule for these average speed money races:

If the bird representing the 10th percentile is not within 20% of the velocity of the first bird clocked then that race is a "non-qualifying" average speed race and will not count for average speed payouts. For example: if in a race the winning bird had a velocity of 1094.711 ypm, and the 10th percentile bird (clocked 21st out of 209 birds entered) had a velocity of 672.829 ypm. The calculation would be 672.829 / 1094.711 = 0.6146 (61.46%). This would disallow the race from being counted towards average speed for the money race series.

It just doesn't seem right to eliminate 90% of the birds from having a viable chance at Average speed prizes based on one poor return. People enjoy the race series much more when they have even a marginal opportunity at winning. To be eliminated because of conditions beyond the ability of the birds does not make the race series a fun competition.

However, to be fair, that percentage of the average speed money represented by that race should be awarded per capita to the prize winners. So, if the series is a 100, 200 and 300 and the 200 was dis-qualified, then 200 / (100+200+300) = 33.33% of the average speed prize money would be awarded to the capital prize winners of the 200 mile race. This money would be equally split between all capital prize winners. So, if 1/3rd of the average speed payout was $1000 and the capital prizes were paid out to 20 positions for the 200 mile race, then each prize winner would receive $50 on top of their capital prize for the 200 mile race.

Now, even though there was a race that went bad, everyone is still in the running for the remaining 66.67% of the average speed money, and the 300 mile race has even more overall interest and excitement, as everyone is still in contention for the remaining $2000 in average speed prize payouts. And, by resuscitating the series it is easier to put the poor return behind us and to look forward to winning the average speed competition based on the 100 & 300 returns.

What I am suggesting is another way of looking at race series. I am trying to insert into the marketplace the idea that these race series "could" incorporate rules that might take the sting out of releases that go horribly wrong. However, at the same time I do not suggest penalizing the results of the questionable release, quite contrary I recommend distributing that portion of the race series payout associated with the bad release to the top performing birds of that release.

I am only suggesting a method of dealing with those ineviable bad releases that happen from time to time, no matter how well you plan.

A couple of years ago, while training my youngbirds, I took them twenty two miles around to the other side of Chuckanut Bay which is on the line of flight my birds must take to win the races. Only 1/3 of the birds made it home on the day. The next time I took the birds to that release point, I was not interested in repeating those poor results. Instead, I was interested in getting the birds back in 30 minutes not eight to 24 hours. It is a matter of expectation.

Ever seen one of those Indy 500 starts where the lead 33 cars crash within the first 100 ft and only the last three cars that never got going are the only ones able to continue to race?

Ever see the yellow flag go up at one of these races because a bad crash happened and the flag signifies that none of the competitors will be allowed to improve their position while the mess is being cleared off the track?

In the 2003 Tour de France, during one of the race segments, an over zealous fan accidentally knocked Lance Armstrong off his bike. Guess what the other riders in the race did. They all slowed down and allowed Lance time to check his bike for damage, get back on and move up to his original placement. Then they all started up where they left off. They didn't need someone to tell them what sportsmanship was, they inherently knew that the race would have no meaningful value otherwise.

I am just suggesting something that neither punishes nor rewards when we have a bad crash on our bird's race course. I am just suggesting we raise the yellow flag, clean up the mess and get back to racing.

To see if my idea was statistically viable, I collected race information from three clubs for the 2003 YB series, this information examines how often the Yellow Flag Rule would have triggered in these 29 races. You can view the information Here.