I was crew on TeamSanDiego in this year's GT300, and agree with most of what you said. I'll add a few things:
I usually sail a Tornado off shore from Hurricane Gulch (San Pedro, CA) to Catalina (20+ nm offshore), so I'm no stranger to wind and waves. To me, the I-20, with it's large sailplan and broad bows was clearly overpowered in this races reaching conditions on the last day. In fact, a brief experiment on the last day moving weight inboard and forward a bit resulted in a pitchpole that shredded our spinnaker bag. Woops!
So, not being as overpowered definitely helped the Tigers.
Yes, a great factor in the Tiger's success has been Hobie Europe's willingness to evolve the design to stay competitive in the F18 world, and that's been a great asset. It's sad that the N20 has not evolved the design as actively. Top racers in SoCal seem to be transitioning from N20 to F18, and part of this is that the F18s are staying on the cutting edge, not locked into a single platform.
IMHO, if you want to win races, you gotta buy sails pretty regularly. If you're going to do that, you might as well buy the evolved technology. You can do this on the Tiger, but not the N20, and it really doesn't cost the active racer extra to evolve his sails, since he's got to replace them periodically anyway.
At the GT300 awards, one of the Tiger finishers told us it's time for us to all sail the same boat: Tigers. I find this amusing, since evolving technology led to the Tigers domination, but will also lead to its downfaul when better hulls come along. This may have happened already, with the Nacra Infusion F18... as long as Nacra has learned from the Tiger and keeps working with top sailors and sailmakers to update the boat.
Another factor in the Tiger's success in the GT300 is that it has drawn many top sailors, as "the" class du jour. I dunno about the rest of the Tigers, but Tomko was 8th in the Tiger Worlds. His finish surely had as much to do with skill as the boat he was on.
Even if the Infusion is a bit faster, the Tiger is still appealing as it can be raced in both insular NAHCA events and open F18 events. NAHCA has the most events around SoCal, and their recent move to exclude other brands is simple monopolistic behaviour... and this is hilarious because it's a Hobie Europe boat, and that's an entirely different company than Hobie in the US (which is actually more than one company, one of which makes catamarans). Why does NAHCA allow boats from two companies (Hobie USA and Hobie Europe), but not Performance Catamarans USA!? It's either a cult of "Hobie" or just politics around the fact that they don't govern the Nacra classes. I'll bet that many NAHCA members also find it disgusting that the national body forbids local clubs from running Portsmouth in the same event.
Portsmouth (and handicapping in general) has a lot of shortcomings. However, I would gladly take open Portsmouth over any organization that claims to promote sailing but excludes boats by brand.
A big Tiger-rated shortcoming of Portsmouth, IMHO, is that it uses historical (relatively slow) data to rate evolving classes. This tends to award evolving classes, which is frustrating for those in non-evolving classes, but I guess it encourages boat development and supports the boatbuilding economy!
So, it's a sad fact of life that to win on Portsmouth it is not enough to simply sail well. You must also pick the right boat for the race, or the right race for the boat; and the N20 was clearly not a match for the GT300 this year.
Now if only we can pursuade Charlie Ogletree to enter a Tornado in next years race... then the Tigers can taste what they dished out this year. :-P (Of course, we'd have to talk the fleet into not discriminating against 10' beam!)
P.S.: Congrats on your first day's finish!
Thanks to Chase for being our pusher!
And thanks to the Great Texas Fleet for putting on an awesome event this year!
P.P.S: Please send your GPS tracks so we can add them to http://www.fulltiltphoto.com/gpx
. I want to see how your kicked our butts!