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24th November 2021

IRC 2022 Rule Text Published

Following the international IRC annual Congress meeting in October, the 2022 IRC rule text is now published online.

The new rule text includes the following changes agreed by Congress: Stored power (autopilots) for steering is prohibited unless permitted by the relevant notice of race (rule 15.2); IRC measurement condition for boat weight now explicitly includes permanently installed renewable energy features such as solar panels etc. (rule 17.1), and a spar used as a whisker pole to set a headsail or flying headsail only requires declaration if used to leeward (rule 21.3.6). The 2022 IRC rule applies from 1st January 2022, except in countries with June-May validity where the rule will apply from 1st June 2022.

A proposed rule change from Australia to allow a boat to hold two concurrent valid certificates for different configurations was agreed in principle. A pilot scheme will be developed to be tested in Australia and other southern hemisphere countries during 2022, with a view to worldwide rollout if it proves successful.

2022 IRC Rule text and more information about the rule changes here

 

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The Shannon Estuary's RWYCI October Series concluded this weekend on the 30th of October. The series had scheduled races over the first four Sundays and the final Saturday in October.

Racing was cancelled due to bad weather on the first weekend, the series got underway on week two in sunshine and light north-westerly winds of 6-10 knots, under the excellent race management of Aoife Lyons and David Vinnell.

The on-the-water team got in three races in each class with windward-leeward courses for the spinnaker fleet and triangular courses for the white sails fleet.

In the spinnaker fleet, it was Tadhg O'Loingsigh and crew on their J24, Janx Spirit topping the spinnaker fleet in both ECHO and IRC. In white sails the very impressive traditional sailing craft, Sally O'Keeffe, built by Steve Morris and operated by Seol Sionna, won race one, and race three was won by Pat O'Shea's Malo 36, Amergin, however, Elaine O'Mahoney & Simon McGibney's newly acquired First 265 lead the class after week one with a 2nd – 1st – 2nd.

Diarmuid O'Donovan's J/24 Yachtzee crew were the IRC winners of the Royal Western Yacht Club October Series winnersSeries organiser Simon McGibney (left) with Diarmuid O'Donovan's J/24 Yachtzee crew, the IRC winners of the Royal Western Yacht Club October Series 

On the third Sunday of racing, OOD's Aoife Lyons and David Vinnell, ran two races in beautiful sunshine with a southerly 10-12 knots. In the spinnaker fleet Janx Spirit continued their great form with a further two wins in IRC while Rob Allen's Corby 25 lead the spinnaker fleet in ECHO. In white sails, Adrian O'Connell on his modified Seawolf 26 claimed two wins to put pressure on the leaders.

With another weekend cancelled due to weather, the final weekend of racing took place on the last Saturday of the month, in this enjoyable series. There was plenty of wind from the south-west and luckily the rain held off during the mid-afternoons racing. White sails completed their full schedule of races with another two races, both won by Fintan Keating's Halberg Rassy, Passade, who enjoyed the heavier winds. The spinnaker fleet added three more races to their series with two wins for the Corby 25, Smile and a race win for Ray McGibney's J24, Lady J in ECHO and two wins for Diarmuid O'Donovan's J/24 Yachtzee, with Smile taking the final race win in IRC.

At the overall prize-giving event on Saturday evening event organiser, Simon McGibney thanked all the volunteers especially the OOD's David and Aoife for superb racecourses and efficient running of races each week. 

Overall results:

  • Spinnaker IRC: 1st Yachtzee, 2nd Janx Spirit, 3rd Smile
  • Spinnaker ECHO: 1st Smile, 2nd Yachtzee, 3rd Janx Spirit
  • White Sails: 1st Lucita, 2nd Sally O'Keeffe, 3rd Amergin

Full results here

Published in Shannon Estuary

There appears to be no de-escalation of the long-festering row between IRC and the ORC that spilt out into the public domain this week.

The World's two leading rating administrators are locked into a war of words over the staging of the 2022 World Championships.

The latest is an admission from ORC that in its opinion the combined ORC/IRC event in 2018 in The Hague that featured averaging scores in ORC and IRC, was a 'failed solution'.

A World Sailing Offshore Committee has been silent since the matter aired this week. The governing body is scheduled to meet today and there's likely just one item at the top of the agenda but even then, it's not clear if any oil can be poured on these troubled waters via this virtual meeting. 

Bruno Finzi of the ORCBruno Finzi of the ORC

Meanwhile, Bruno Finzi of the ORC has responded to Michael Boyd's Tuesday 'shocked and disappointed' IRC salvo with a 2023 olive branch? Full statement below: 

Statement below from Bruno Finzi and the ORC Management Committee in response to yesterday's IRC press release:

We are sorry the IRC Board has expressed shock and disappointment about our decision with YCCS to issue the Notice of Race for next year's ORC Worlds and chosen to misrepresent our dialogue in their press release.

An email was sent on 4 October explaining to them our frustration over their insistence to replicate what we knew was a failed solution of averaging scores in ORC and IRC, as done in 2018 in The Hague. The feedback from the sailors at this event was very negative, and even the minutes of the 2021 IRC Congress admits this as well.

We feel we need to listen to the sailors on what is acceptable to them and not use an ineffectual scoring solution based purely on politics. Our proposal of using ORC scoring for inshore races and IRC scoring for offshore races seems the appropriate solution and we still believe would be acceptable to the constituency.

We, therefore, fail to see why the decision by YCCS and ORC to issue the ORC Worlds 2022 Notice of Race on 21 October could be a surprise: this is only 8 months prior to the start of this event. We also informed them of this on 4 October, their IRC Board meeting was on 6 October, and the IRC Congress was held on 16 October, and yet we still heard nothing from them before our announcement.

Regardless, we are available to re-engage in these discussions for a combined ORC/IRC event in 2023.

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London's Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) is considering staging its own separate IRC World Championships to "preserve the rights of sailors using our rating system" following a rival ORC decision last week to launch its separate championship in 2022. 

The international war of words broke out between the two leading yacht rating systems over the proposed scrapping of a previously 'agreed' combined World Championships for 2022. 

In a statement, IRC Board Chairman Michael Boyd says: "It appears that ORC has no wish to honour our shared commitment to hold joint World Championships made at the World Sailing Annual Meeting in Barcelona in 2016. We hope that this is not true, and we continue to be open to constructive dialogue.

Michael Boyd IRC Board ChairmanMichael Boyd, IRC Board Chairman

Boyd says the decision by the ORC to issue a Notice of Race for an exclusive ORC World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy, in June 2022 cancels the previously agreed joint IRC/ORC event.

Boyd, who is a Dublin Bay-based yachtsman, says, "The IRC Board, RORC and UNCL were shocked and disappointed to read the ORC/YCCS Notice of Race". 

"This was a totally unexpected unilateral decision at a time when we thought negotiations were continuing to finalise a combined scoring system", he says.

"This action has damaged the foundation of trust and respect, which is essential for progress. If we cannot re-engage, we must consider our options to exercise our right to hold separate IRC World Championships to preserve the rights of sailors using our rating system to compete internationally at the highest level", Boyd concludes.

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The 2022 IRC European Championship will be held at in Breskens, Netherlands alongside the Breskens Sailing Weekend.

The seventh edition of the IRC European Championship will take place over four days of racing in late August 2022. The championship is expected to attract a record fleet of highly competitive IRC rated boats vying for the overall win and class honours.

Breskens is in many ways the sailing gateway of the Low Countries. The port is strategically located between the Netherlands and Belgium, but is also on the edge of the Scheldt Delta and the North Sea.

The 2022 IRC European Championship will have 70 years of regatta organisation behind it on one of the most challenging sailing waters in Europe. Changing but testing weather conditions and variable currents are always on the menu. The area also offers sheltered water in severe weather situations and undisturbed wind on the open sea. The marina, with an open connection to the sea - the Scheldt estuary - is between the sandbanks and endless sailing areas far from the deep-water shipping lanes and is centrally located.

Breskens Sailing Weekend Foundation offer exemplary race management on inshore and offshore race courses, with an international network of talented race-officers, jury members and race and rescue services. All these elements contribute to the reputation that Breskens has earned as an international sailing competition centre.

The Vlakte van Raan, Walvischstaart, and Rassen are sailing areas where the most intensive sailing competitions have taken place. Even now, this is reserved competition water thanks to the excellent relationship the Foundation has built up with all nautical authorities over the years. Breskens is a relatively short distance for many European countries.

The championship is expected to attract a record fleet of highly competitive IRC rated boats vying for the overall win and class honours © Wacon Images/2019 Breskens Sailing Weekend

Centrally located Breskens has good services and facilities for yachtsmen, plus is known for its good social life. The area also has plenty of tourist attractions, once off the water. These include shopping in the fashionable Knokke, excursions to historic areas such as Bruges, and offers exquisite restaurants in town and in the immediate vicinity, such as the gastronomic epicentre of Zeeuws Vlaanderen.

Breskens is ready and waiting to welcome competitors to the 2022 IRC European Championship. Information will be available in the coming months for the 2022 IRC European Championship and will include Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and details of the exciting and varied social events programme.

Published in ICRA
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship is underway in the Solent. Two windward-leeward races, followed by a reaching start for a two-hour round the cans finale, gave the RORC fleet a variety of racing. A fresh northerly breeze of 15-20 knots, with pulses of rain showers, produced difficult conditions. Crew work, tactics and strategy were all in the mix for a top performance. The IRC Class leaders after three races: Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Rán, Stuart Sawyer’s J/121 Black Dog, and Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes!

Detailed Results here 

IRC ONE

Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Rán scored a 1-2-1 today to lead the high performance IRC Class. Peter Morton’s GP42 Jean Genie won Race 2 to finish the day in second place but only on countback. Hamilton & Gillon’s GP42 Khumbu is tied on points with Jean Genie, only missing out win in Race One, by 24 seconds after IRC time correction. “Khumbu is going really well after some upgrades, we were very close to winning the first race but Ran hit the ‘turbo button’ to stay ahead.” Commented Khumbu’s Guy Gillon.

RORC Commodore James Neville is racing his HH42 Ino XXX in IRC One, their main focus this year is the Rolex Fastnet Race. However, racing at the IRC National Championship is very much part of the programme. “Inshore and offshore racing are very different disciplines but racing against the top inshore boats in the Solent really sharpens up our performance, and that fine tuning of our boat trim and sail handling works very well offshore.”

Stuart Sawyer’s J/122 Black Dog, overall winner in 2019 © Paul Wyeth/RORCStuart Sawyer’s J/122 Black Dog, overall winner in 2019 © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC TWO

Stuart Sawyer’s J/121 Black Dog came out fighting hard for the opening day of the championship, scoring straight bullets to take a five point lead from Rob Bottomley’s Mills 41 Sailplane. Mills 39 Zero II, skippered by James Gair is lying third in class. Blair & Beckett’s King 40 Cobra came close to spoiling Black Dog’s perfect score, just 14 seconds behind in Race Three after time correction.

Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes! © Paul Wyeth/RORCAdam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes! © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC THREE

Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes! scored a hat trick of wins today to lead the class. However, it was far from an easy day for Yes!, each race was won by about a minute after IRC time correction. Bruce Huber’s J/112E Xanaboo is second, three points ahead of McNamara & Lowe’s First 40.7 Incognito. 

Racing at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship continues Saturday 19th June. 

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As the racing season is underway, this new and improved IRC calculator from UK Sailmakers Ireland is just the thing you need for your season ahead.

Just type in the boat name and TCC number of each boat in your class.

Then you will see how much time you give each boat and they give you in your class on the IRC Rating

So you can see in real-time on the racecourse your place in the race.

A graphic of the new and improved IRC Calculator for the 2021 season. Click the link below to go to the calculatorA graphic of the new and improved IRC Calculator for the 2021 season. Click the link below to go to the calculator

Click to go to the IRC Calculator on the UK Sails site

Have a fantastic racing season.

UK Sailmakers Ireland

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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The 2021 IRC Welsh National Championships for cruiser-racers will be held at Plas Heli, Pwllheli, North Wales from the 13th - 15th August.

Organisers of the Irish Sea event are planning to run both the IRC 1 and 2 class and the popular NHC cruisers class at this year's event.

Irish boats typically feature strongly at the annual championships.

The IRC class will race a mixture of windward/leeward, fixed marks and a short coastal race, which will also be a club coastal race, and will hopefully attract a big fleet.

This style of racing at Tremadog Bay is the suggested format from the IRC Congress and matches the programme used for the IRC European and World Championship events.

Even though the UK is aiming for a return to outdoor sport as early as March, the organisers cautiously say "that should Government restrictions and guidance restrict our activities in any way, we can adapt our classes and racetrack styles, switching on or off various components with the minimum of lead time, and allowing us significant leeway, like last year and it’s not until mid-July before we need to make any big decisions".

Download the full notice of race below.

Published in ICRA
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IRC specialist and Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield analyses the rating rule changes agreed for next season.

Following the IRC Congress earlier this month, chaired by Ireland's Michael Boyd, changes were agreed for the 2021 season. The two main areas of change deal with Spinnaker Pole/Sprit lengths and Flying Jibs. 

Bowsprit/Spinnaker Pole IRC changes for 2021

Whisker poles

In late 2019 IRC came up with a new method of dealing with Whisker poles which were becoming more common, especially on larger Offshore boats, where the offwind sails like Code 0s and Flying Jibs could be sheeted further outboard on the whisker pole outriggers.

Some confusion arose around the 2020 revalidation form and options that were offered to owners who did not have a whisker pole but did have both a sprit and also used a spinnaker pole for Symmetrical Spinnakers. It appears some of these boats may have been over-penalised in 2020.

For 2021, a new definition of what is a whisker pole has been agreed by World Sailing and an individual question will now be asked in the 2021 revalidation to determine if a boat is carrying one.

It means the options for owners who have both a bowsprit and also use a spinnaker pole become simpler.

Pole/Sprit sizing

Up to now, it appears that your STL (from front of the mast to end of Sprit or end of pole) was the only figure that was taken to cover both your pole length and how far your Sprit extended. So if you added a sprit to your bow and this came out further than your pole, then it cost nothing in rating to extend your pole to that same length. However, many owners did not go to the bother or expense of splitting their pole and extending it. 

For 2021, it now appears that if your pole is not as long as your Sprit, you may, in some circumstances, get a better rating for having the shorter pole. Both the sprit length (STL) and the pole length (SPL) can and should now be provided in your 2021 revalidation. This may also mean that owners adding a sprit might opt for a longer sprit compared to the very stubby Sprit we have seen recently, and not incur the same penal penalty. Trial certs should be looked at to confirm this.

The text from the IRC rating office is below:

To fully benefit from the changes owners are asked to confirm the pole configuration of their boat, and SPL as well as STL if applicable when applying for a certificate. For revalidation, SPL should be supplied if it is different from the previous rated STL. If SPL is not supplied then STL will automatically be used for spinnaker pole length if applicable, which may result in a higher TCC. Boats may see a change in their TCC for 2021 and the rating effect will depend on the specific configuration of the boat.

Flying Jibs—IRC Changes

The way IRC handles Flying Jibs is changing as is their definition.

History—Flying Jibs

Flying Jibs became popular due to a change in the IRC rules back in 2017 when it became legal for a headsail to be tacked forward of the forestay onto a sprit. This allowed a Headsail to be designed with a high clew which was the same size as the boats Jib, and so no extra rating penalty as only the largest is rated. These Flying Jibs could then be used with another jib or staysail inside them. Effectively it was a small flat code 0, normally on a furler, which was very efficient when power reaching in more wind than a code 0 could take. Code 0's were rated as spinnakers and so had to be designed wide in the middle to meet the 75% mid girth IRC requirement. However, the flying jib had no such restriction and could be designed to be quite flat.

Not too many of these sails have turned up in Ireland so far, but internationally you could see them become popular especially on larger offshore boats that often set 2 or 3 headsails forward of the mast.

A Flying Jib used with headsail. This will still be allowed in 2021 but the Flying jib like this will continue as a headsailA Flying Jib used with headsail. This will still be allowed in 2021 but the Flying jib like this will continue as a headsail

Changes for 2021—Flying Jibs

The new 2021 rule now has come up with a new definition of what exactly is a flying jib and requires any boat carrying one or more of these to report them on their 2021 revalidation and they will be included in their new Cert, and a likely penalty will be incurred.
A headsail design that is the same size or smaller than a boats max size headsail can still be set on a boats sprit, so what was referred to as a flying jib over the last few years continues, per IRC, now defined as a headsail. These sails do not need to be reported as a Flying jib.

Effectively the new Flying jibs are a flat, perhaps slightly smaller Code 0. From the graph below, you will see that they can be quite costly on rating so a prolonged period of use in their perfect conditions would be needed to justify this rating increase.

Owners declaring a Flying Headsail within the IRC definition will see a change in rating for 2021. Some representative examples are shown below; these are for guidance only as the rating effect will depend upon the rig configuration and many other boat factors.Owners declaring a Flying Headsail within the IRC definition will see a change in rating for 2021. Some representative examples are shown above these are for guidance only as the rating effect will depend upon the rig configuration and many other boat factors. Source IRC

The J/99 Juggerknot at the start of Fastnet 450 race with flying jib and headsail set Photo: AfloatThe J/99 Juggerknot at the start of Fastnet 450 race on Dublin Bay with flying jib and headsail set Photo: Afloat

The definition of what is a Flying Jib is twofold.

  1. It must have a mid-girth of at least 62.5% of its foot. This will force sail designers to design these sails much fuller than they would normally want to do. This is to stop these sails effectively been used upwind as large jibs.
  2. IRC has put a minimum foot length of these sails to stop very small Flying Jibs being designed. There is a formula for this.

The full details and formulas can be found here

The Rating Office has provided the above graph of what penalties will likely be incurred by boats that use certain sized Flying jibs going forward. These are based on sail sizes that might be efficient to design. It is unlikely that the penalty will prove attractive to take for IRC boats that do not do long offshore races. 

Other IRC changes

There have been some other clarifications mainly around wording, age dates, series dates and the use of foils. These are all covered in the IRC changes link given above.

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Representatives of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) from around the world met at the beginning of October for the annual IRC Congress to discuss the past IRC season and future developments. This year the planned gathering in London was not possible due to Coronavirus so the meeting was held online with delegates joining the meeting from varied time zones as far apart as the East Coast USA and Japan. One IRC representative joined the meeting from aboard his boat in autumnal Finland.

Irish interests at Congress were represented by Richard Colwell from ICRA, Mark Mills representing Irish Owners and Liz Hall from the ISA.

IRC Congress 2020 was chaired for the second year by Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor Michael Boyd, supported by Vice-Chairman Carl Sabbe of Belgium. Congress was sorry to hear that after 12 years of service Malcolm Runnalls has stepped down as IRC International Owners’ Representative and IRC Committee Vice Chairman. Malcolm has been involved in IRC from the point of view of a sailor, measurer and independent representative for many years and was instrumental in the introduction of IRC into Australia; his insights and wisdom will be missed. Stepping into Malcolm’s shoes is Simon James, another long time user and supporter of IRC, owners’ representative in South East Asia and a well-known Principal Race Officer across Asia.

Delegates gathered from across Europe, Scandinavia, Brazil, Japan and the USA; and from organisations including RORC, UNCL, the Royal Yachting Association and the International Maxi Association. Due to the online format and time zone constraints this year’s conference lacked the usual informal discussions enjoyed by delegates to share experiences and ideas from different perspectives and racing cultures, but more informal online meetings and discussions are expected to take place during the next year.

A number of technical developments were proposed by the IRC Technical Committee for 2021 and agreed by Congress. These include the addition of ‘flying headsails’ to the IRC sail inventory; more equitable treatment of spinnaker and whisker poles; and recognition that it is not currently possible to rate fully foiling boats fairly within the existing IRC fleet, although the Technical Committee will be exploring ways to rate these exciting, fully foiling boats in the future.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL), joint owners of IRC, work closely together on a day-to-day basis through their respective rating offices with both offices accessing the IRC software on the same server, on research and technical development and on overall governance of the rule. This relationship has been further strengthened over the last year with a new collaborative agreement that will come into effect on 1 January 2021. This will result in integration of the teams based in UK and France, both employees and volunteers in one single structure, although geographical location of individuals will be maintained. We will continue to use online communication tools to manage this international team. This consolidation will enhance IRC’s operations, development and research of IRC with the the aim of delivering the best service to sailors and race organisers. RORC and UNCL look forward to the continued success of IRC racing.

Fastnet Race 2021

Some exciting events are scheduled for 2021 including the IRC European Championship to be held in Hyeres, France in June; and the Rolex Fastnet Race in August which will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin for the first time. The joint IRC/ORC World Championship due to be held in Newport, RI in September 2020, unfortunately, fell victim to Coronavirus with overseas entrants unable to travel to join the event. The next World Championship is expected to be held in 2022.

The Congress Minutes, IRC 2021 rule changes and other associated documents are online here

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