Just wanted to make sure a few things about the rankings clear:
1) The quality of times (i.e. faster courses for whatever reason, boats, lanes, wind) will be adjusted by the regression. Where a lower profile festival might yield different results is if the top-tier team attending doesn't enter their "A" team because they enter to have fun and the pressure to perform is much lower – while other lower tier teams enter their “A” team as the festival is more important to them. I’m hoping to address this next year by striking a reasonable compromise on how "competative" a festival should be in order to be entered. I don't think this is the case for the Piranhas anyways as the CCWC was their slowest true rankings festival (relative to their competition) and Woodstock up to par.
2) The gap in times between teams on the rankings does mean that in a given race you should expect the same gap, but more likely the same placing, for a few reasons:
A) These times are all adjusted to the island race course where it may or may not be easier to pull away from other crews. Therefore, the gap could easily open or close if a festival has wider/narrower or deeper/shallower lanes when compared to the island and depending on which teams are in your heat and might pull you with their wash.
B) The rankings are built using the average of races, if a crew can really ramp it up for a final, or conversely choose to take it easy in the preliminaries, you could see a significant change in placement from the rankings (generally doesn’t seem to be true – but certainly possible).
C) More obviously, bodies change, peak fitness changes, teams improve, teams get worse, people have good bad races/festivals. This never seems to make as a big difference as one might expect, with most teams posting relatively comparable times throughout the season, but there are certainly a few crews every year that manage to make some significant gains on their competition or fall into a slide, or even both.
3) I usually try to refrain from commenting on teams directly, but
“I think only Hanalei is the only other team in years past that has been able to go alot faster mid-season (their traditional GWN peak).”
Hanalei had their worst performance at GWN based on the true rankings for last year. In 2005 GWN was one of their better festivals according to the rankings, but not by a large margin.
As examples, I would site the Mofos in 2006-07 and Shogun in 2005-06 - good examples of crews that changed a great deal in terms of competitiveness for GWN.