The CRAM approach is that when at least 4 boats of the same class are at an event they get their own fleet. When less than 4 boats of a class show up we group them into one of two fleets, a High Open or a Low Open fleet. The high and low refer to their SCHRS rating. Low rated boats are faster while high rated boats are slower. SCHRS stands for Small Catamaran Handicap Rating System. Each type of boat has a time dividing factor with a baseline of 1.000 for the F18 class. All other classes are rated respective of that fixed point.
So, if there there is a CRAM event with less than 4 boats each of Formula 16s, A-class, Prindle 16s, and Hobie 18s we would group the Formula 16s and the A-class boats into the Open Low fleet and the Prindle 16s and the Hobie 18s into an Open high fleet. While technically the SCHRS system would allow all of these boats to race together, we prefer to group them to maximize the enjoyment of the event for all sailors. With this approach the faster boats can start another race without waiting for the slower boats to finish.
CRAM Race Officers also have the liberty of grouping starts. That is to say that multiple fleets will share a starting sequence and a course number. An example of this would be if we had an event with a fleet of Hobie 16s and an Open High fleet. Since they take a similar amount of time to complete a race the Race Committee may start them together. This provides a more competitive starting line, and if only one or two boats make up an Open Fleet we have the ability to score them against the boats they start with to let them see how they are doing, although trophies will still be awarded to fleets separately.
The exception to this approach is if CRAM is partnering with a Hobie Fleet to offer a Hobie Class Association of North American (HCANA) points regatta. In the event of such, HCANA rules dictate than an HCANA fleet has its own start. The boats racing in the HCANA class fleet, for example Hobie 16s, would have their own start. If there are at least 4 other Hobie 16s that are either not class legal or choose not to race with the HCANA fleet then they would form a class Open fleet. In this example it would be a Hobie 16 Open fleet. If there are less than 4 additional non-HCANA boats then they would join the appropriate Open fleet. While a HCANA class fleet cannot share a start with any other fleets, the class Open fleet may share starts with other fleets.
There is no worldwide catamaran rule that makes us do it this way. Even our friends over in the Catamaran Racing Association of Wisconsin do it differently. We have just found that it works well for us, with the boat classes that we see at our events, and we think its the best balance of creating a competitive sailing environment that emphasis class fleet racing, while being open to any type of boat interested in sailing with CRAM.
For more information about the SCHRS rating system please visit https://schrs.com