The Finish Line in 2019

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Mike.MacKuen
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:07 am
Race Team: Avsim

The Finish Line in 2019

Post by Mike.MacKuen » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:38 pm

When the Race ended on Sunday, those on the scene, including the participants, thought that AVSIM had won a close race. However, the Committee has unanimously declared a tie and awarded joint possession of the Wilhe Bendit Trophy for 2019. Why is this the case? Here is the explanation.

The first question people ask is: "Who came in first?" or "Who won the race?" The answers to the two questions will not be the same.

To observers on Sunday, those following the Race Tracking and the posts on the two forums, it appeared that AVSIM came in first. The Live Tracker showed SOH quickly closing the gap to a photo finish ... without ever quite catching AVSIM. But the Live Tracker lost its resolution at the very end. More telling, the "baton free" declarations of the two teams were posted in the sequence: AVSIM first and SOH second. Multiple observers (AVSIM pilots anxiously awaiting the posts) confirmed simultaneously over TeamSpeak the appearance of the two posts separated by the same period of time. But the timing of forum posts is not exact – sometimes glitches in the servers or the internet can delay things. The impressions of those watching cannot be determinative. This was a "photo finish" that needs a sharper picture of the finish line.

Our best evidence stems from the precise Duenna-recorded atomic-clock-sourced time that marks the end of each baton leg. Comparing the atomic clock readings indicates that AVSIM landed and stopped first by a margin of 25 seconds. [The atomic clock UTC readings at the finish are: AVSIM 2019-02-17 20:37:22 and SOH 2019-02-17 20:37:47, expressed with the date and the UTC time in hours:minutes:seconds.] Thus, the best available technology confirms the outcome seen by observers at the time. One team finished the race before the other. By conventional understanding, it appeared that AVSIM had won the race "by a nose".

However, we must honor the Rules that were set long before the race began. Reviewing the General Rules, we focus on Rule 5 and its footnote: "The objective of the race is to be the team to successfully carry a virtual baton around the globe in the fastest possible Race Time[*]." And the footnote "[*] Race Time is defined as the period between the race start and the team's arrival at the race end point having completed all race requirements, adjusted for any credits and penalties accrued during the race, as measured by each forum clock." In the formal General Rules the only explicit definition of "fastest Race Time" is calibrated by the team forum clocks. There is no ambiguity here. Thus, we see that finishing first is not the same as finishing with the fastest Race Time. And it is the latter that is decisive.

The forum clocks show an exactly equal race time for the two teams. Accordingly, the Committee confidently judges the result to be a tie. The teams are declared co-winners and will proudly share the Wilhe Bendit Trophy for 2019.

This may be controversial. The participants' experience of the event suggested an exciting finish with a razor-thin victory margin. The actual rules clearly indicate a tie. Overall, though, we might all agree that in 2019 the two teams' performances were coequal – separated by a margin so small that it was not anticipated in the General Rules.

In the future, the Race's formal definition of race timing might be revised to take advantage of the newest technology. [Note also that this year's ambiguity would have been resolved if both teams had finished 23 seconds earlier or 13 seconds later – when the forum times would have revealed the proper sequencing. Our inability to declare a winner arose from the happenstance that the period separating the teams fell completely within the span of two UTC minute marks rather than across a UTC minute marker. We want to fix this.]

In 2019, we would like to offer our sincerest congratulations to all who participated in what was a truly outstanding event. The last hour of racing will be celebrated as one of the most thrilling moments in our racing history. Kudos to all.
Mike MacKuen, Executive Committee

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