The Sports Page

Season 9, Episode 6

This short, fast-moving leg continued the bunch-free streak that started waaaay back in Moscow. It’s all Sicily, all the time as Racers head from one corner of the island to the other, stopping briefly along the way to count heads, lug fish, and play a bit of kayak polo. The lack of bunch points mean that for the most part, teams finish where they started time-wise. One critical exception to that ‘most part’ is Dave and Lori, who lose their razor-thin lead over Ray and Yolanda in the first hours of the leg, and never, ever, get a chance to take it back. Bye-bye, lovable geeks. And look on the bright side: now you can register at TARflies.com!
Most teams seemed to pick up their games this week, and we certainly didn’t see the kind of errors we’ve had recently. But, on the whole, it was kind of ho-hum.
Most teams seemed to pick up their games this week, and we certainly didn't see the kind of errors we've had recently. But, on the whole, it was kind of ho-hum. Nothing really stood out for me as a Play Of The Week. However, to avoid being labelled a hard-ass, I'm still happy to distribute the laurels, and this week they go to Fran and Barry. Detour selection is often key in the race, and it can be hard to swim against the tide. But if you recognize your strengths - and weaknesses - then you know which way to go. As did they, realizing that their capacity to interact with middle-aged Sicilians greatly exceeded their ability to lug thirty pounds of pointy fish around. They may not have gained any ground from that option, but they didn't lose any either.

In fact, in the spirit of goodwill, I'm not even going to give out a Smooth Move this week. I could quibble about poor navigation, or about an apparent inability to pronounce a simple fishmongers name, but no one really disgraced themselves this week. So you get a pass. But don't get cocky; I'll be watching.

Where The Wheels Came Off The Bus was during a critical ten-minute period somewhere between Segesta and Catania. Why ten minutes? Well, nine minutes for the lead Dave and Lori had over Ray and Yolanda leaving the Pit Stop, and one for not having it by the next checkpoint. I don't really know how far back they were at that point, but it doesn't really matter. With no bunches in the leg, once they got behind, it was game over.

Lies, Damn Lies, and...

The stats this week show our teams clearly breaking down into two groups: Eric and Jeremy and BJ and Tyler, and everybody else. These two are outpacing the rest so much - out of twelve possible first and second place finishes so far, they have eleven between them - that at this point, I'm prepared to say they've got a lock on the top three. Barring a Titanic-scale travel disaster, for better or worse, we are stuck with them for the long haul.
Statistics
TeamPositionAverageWeighted Average
Eric and Jeremy11.3.0272
BJ and Tyler22.2.0434
Lake and Michelle54.5.0916
Joseph and Monica34.8.0948
Fran and Barry45.5.1058
Ray and Yolanda65.8.1207
Dave and Lori75.8.1226
To bunch, or not to bunch

The TAR Powers That Be get a pretty hard ride from us fans. They bunch the teams, we bitch. They don't bunch the teams, we bitch some more. Might I humbly suggest that timing is everything?

Here's the thing: a bunch levels the playing field, and effectively negates all that happened before it. That means that a bunch at the end of the leg renders all other events in that leg meaningless. A team that handled the airport perfectly gets lumped in with a team that squeaked onto standby seats on the last flight. Racing skills demonstrated to that point count for nothing. Late bunches? A bad thing. But a bunch at the beginning of the leg is something else entirely.

There is something to be said for putting all the teams on an even footing at the start. Sure, in the short term it helps weaker teams by letting them catch up. But a really weak team will just sink to the back of the pack again. And if the alternative is seeing two teams with a four-plus hour lead run away with the race... I'm prepared to let the occasional poor racer catch a break.

Next Week

I'm barely making the deadline here, so I won't even bother with a prediction. Besides, we all know Ray and Yolanda are circling the drain, right?
Leg 9-6 At a Glance

Start pointTempio di Segesta, Segesta, Italy
End pointFonte Aretusa, Siracusa, Italy
Distance traveled300 km
Distance to date25460 km

 


Start OrderTimeFinish OrderTime
1BJ and Tyler0229Eric and Jeremy2233
2Eric and Jeremy0411BJ and Tyler2238
3Joseph and Monica0500Joseph and Monica2340
4Fran and Barry0518Fran and Barry2353
5Lake and Michelle0606Lake and Michelle0017
6David and Lori0625Ray and Yolanda0102
7Ray and Yolanda0634Dave and LoriTBD

 

DETOUR
Big Fish
Little Fish
Carry two 32 pound swordfish one-third of a mile to a fish market.Go to a fish market and sell four kilograms of small fish.
TeamInOutTeamInOut
Eric and Jeremy12Fran and Barry44
BJ and Tyler21   
Joseph and Monica33   
Lake and Michelle55   
Ray and Yolanda66   
Dave and Lori77   

 

ROADBLOCK
Who's got balance?
Play kayak polo and score a goal.
TeamTaken byRecordInOut
Eric and JeremyJeremy(3/5)11
BJ and TylerBJ(3/5)22
Joseph and MonicaJoseph(3/5)33
Fran and BarryBarry(3/5)44
Lake and MichelleMichelle(1/5)55
Ray and YolandaRay(3/5)66
Dave and LoriDave(3/5)77

 

Leaderboard

Leg12345678910111213
Eric and Jeremy121121       
BJ and Tyler214212       
Joseph and Monica638633       
Fran and Barry 895444       
Lake and Michelle572355       
Ray and Yolanda753776       
David and Lori449567       
Danielle and Dani98688        
Wanda and Desiree3679         
Lisa and Joni1010           
John and Scott11