The All Blacks triumphed at Sutton Fields on Sunday 16th May, winning every race in their division and being awarded the cup for having the best strike rate of 75%. This meant that the team won 75% of their heats. In an event with 6 team divisions, there are a total of 5 races won on a first to 3 wins basis giving a potential for each team to run 15 heats, (if every race score was 3-0) and up to 25 heats, (if every race score was 3-2). The All Blacks had a clean sweep winning every race and took 20 heats to achieve this. They won 15 and lost 5 and this gave them the strike rate of 75%. This may not seem that remarkable but as teams are seeded to run against equally matched competitors it shows just how competitive Flyball racing is and the difference between winning every race and losing every race is measured in tenths and sometimes hundredths of a second.
The All Blacks had fallen down the seedings as a result of not having raced much this year. This was due to a lack of events within the team’s “home range”. At the start of the day the team were match rusty and recording times of over 22 seconds. By the second race the team’s cross overs improved, the dogs warmed up and the fastest time of the day (20.09 seconds) was recorded. This was a breakout, resulting in the automatic loss of the heat, as it exceeded the fastest team plus 0.5 seconds breakout time and consequently Eefa had to be substituted for being too fast. However, her place remained in the team as in other heats she was teamed with Miley, who is becoming an elderly dog and not as fast as he used to be, although he still enjoys racing.
It should be noted that a recent rule change has lowered the breakout time from fastest team plus 1 second, to fastest team plus 0.5 seconds and many teams struggled with this. Numerous teams had breakouts, while others were disqualified for 3 or more breakouts. Selection is going to be a tricky job for team captains in the future but the rule change will result in fairer racing. It will prevent the deliberate entry of a much faster dog being brought into a team for a big event or to bag a easy win.