Qualification for Finals at NWSC Regattas
Due to the large number of paddlers / events that are on the regatta programme, and the previous desire from Squad Coaches and Paddlers to compete in every event, it was found that there was not enough time / recovery for paddlers to race in Heats / Semi-Finals / Finals.
When paddlers were aiming for selection / assesment in multiple events, they could end up compromising one event because they had had to race 3 or more rounds in another event.
So, in 1994 a new system was introduced for the A classes, which conincided with the introduction of 200m racing (the reason there were that many additional races on the programme). This sytem involved the use of seeded Finals (straight Finals).
The system was based upon your results at the last 3 regattas, and aimed to seed you into a final, where you will be racing against people who are at the same speed as yourself, rather than having some finals with potential World Champions and others with people who have just arrived from Juniors or B classes etc.
The Seeding seemed to work very well. It meant that the best paddlers, who were all aiming for selection were in one head to head race, and it meant that selectors could easily tell who was the better paddler, whilst coaches could see where their paddlers race plans differed from others.
The A programme then had K1, K2, K4 over 200m, 500m and 1000m. This lead to a potential of 9 races, rather than a possible 18 or so races.
As time progressed, it was decided that the system should change back to a Heat and Final approach, in order to align ourselves more with International Competition. Paddlers were perhaps finding that because they were not used to racing every hour at home, when it came to competition and your Final (or Sem-final) was 1 hour after your heat, they were not prepared. Even moreso, if you are racing in multiple events internationally.
So, it was decided that everyone (across all classes) would have one Heat and a Final, thus ensuring everyone gets a "2nd chance". This added extra races to the programme, but it did mean that in the lower classes, everyone had opportunity to race people of their own ability within a category. This was specifically important amongst the D classes where the range of ability is the greatest.
EXCEPT 200m events, which continue to have non-seeded Straight Finals.
After seeing some of the A class elite paddlers not make an A Final, because they were in a slow heat and did not have any push, it was decided to change the qualification for finals for the A classes only. The change meant that you would qualify for the finals based upon position, rather than time! It meant that when you sat on the start line, you knew how many people you had to beat to make the final!
The next stage of course was: We have 5 heats, so only the winner is going to the A final, or we have 4 heats and only 1st 2 places will make the A Final. This is great until you have 3 people going for selection, who all manage to meet up in the Heat. This is where Demotions and Re-Rankings came to play! Demote anyone who doesn't make 500m and 1000m target times. Re-rank anyone who did not race in April 2003.
Only Olympic Distances have been thought about, the remaining World Championship Events, that can be raced each year are neglected, leaving a number of paddlers in a very difficult situation!
So, now back to 200m racing. 200m races are still straight finals! However, they ar eno longer seeded, so at any regatta the winner of the event could come from 1 of 2 or 3 finals in each class. 1st and 2nd place at the National Championships 2003 was in Final 2 and 3rd Place in Final 1. Gone are the days of proper head to head competition, in an event that sees people win by such narrow margins! It is left in the hands of the starter / finishers to ensure that each race is timed EXACTLY the same, in order to compare results at the end!
It is somewhat disappointing not to have the Head to Head, and then have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for the scoreboard to announce who has the fastest times!
I personally would like to see a come-back of the seeding system across 200m racing in the UK. There are plenty of people willing to work out the rankings / seedings, so why not?
200m events are left having straight Finals, however now they are no longer seeded!