The Offshore World Championship 2018, a World Sailing sanctioned event, will take place in the Hague, specifically from the port of Scheveningen, in July 2018. An innovative solution will be used for the first time to unite the two largest offshore racing fleets. Confirmation of the championships follows news of the story breaking in the Irish Times Sailing Column by David O'Brien last November here.
Baltic, North Sea, Mediterreanean, Atlantic and English Channel-based yachts along with rated offshore racing boats based everywhere else in the world, will have the chance to compete for the 'best in the world title' in a World Sailing-sanctioned offshore World Championship.
There are many handicap and rating systems in use around the world but the two most successful in terms of numbers of subscribers are ORC and IRC. Together the two have rated over 15,000 boats in over 50 countries worldwide in 2016.
There have been World Championships run since 1999 for yachts handicapped under the Offshore Racing Congress' IMS and ORCi rating systems, while for the first time since being sanctioned as an International Rating system by World Sailing in 2003, IRC scoring will be used in a World Championship.
A pragmatic and innovative solution now opens the door to allow an offshore fleet derived from ORCi and IRC-rated boats to assemble and compete for their discipline's ultimate title, 'World Champion'. By using a combined scoring system, this combined fleet will, in 2018, be able to compete on the water against each other for the first time using both systems.
The compromise reached at the sport's international federation (World Sailing) conference in Barcelona last November calls for each boat entering the world championship to have a measurement certificate from each of the two systems, ORCi and IRC. ORC had previously approved the proposal bid from organizers from The Hague to be hosts for the World Championship based on the ORC's standard week-long championship format, however the details of format and scoring will be re-examined by a Working Party formed from IRC and ORC to examine the options.
Stan Honey, chairman of World Sailing's Oceanic and Offshore Committee said: "It was really important to come up with a solution to find a way for the two most important fleets of offshore yachts to compete for a world title. By using both systems conjointly for the event's scoring neither group is compromised and both groups benefit from the dual system solution that we agreed upon in Barcelona last month. I'm looking forward to the return on experience from this event in 2018. I'm sure it will be a popular and successful event."
Based on the experience from this exciting new cooperation between these two systems, further evolutions and convergence are envisaged in the future.