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Royal Cork YC's Paul Gibbons, racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, who was the winner of the inaugural IRC European Champion Trophy last July, will be travelling to France this summer to defend his Euro title and the hope is other Irish IRC campaigners will make the journey to Marseille too.

After its inaugural outing at Cork Week 2016, Marseille is the venue for the 2017 IRC European Championship. The RORC championships will be organised by the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL), the Cercle Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon (CNTL), the Societe Nautique de Marseille (SNM) and the Union Nautique Marseillaise (UNM), from the 5th to the 9th July 2017 in Marseille. A date that clashes unfortunately with Ireland's biggest regatta in Dun Laoghaire.

The French event was officially launched at the UNCL stand at Paris Boat Show, in the presence of the Presidents of the four organising clubs.

It will be the second edition of this international competition, after a first and successful one held in Cork Harbour in July 2016.

All the IRC rated boats, with a TCC equal or more than 0.900, are invited to participate to the Marseille 2017 IRC European Championship.

Crews from Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom, among others, have already announced their intention to participate in this new challenge, with Ireland's Gibbons declaring his intention to defend immediately on lifting the antique silver cup in Crosshaven. 

Published in RORC
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There was a great turnout for Kinsale Yacht Club's 'At Home' Regatta yesterday. The all–in IRC 2016 cruiser fleet attracted 19 entries and was won by Richard Hanley's GK24 Saoirse. In a 41–boat ECHO handicap division the win went to an Elan 333, Artful Dodger, skippered by Finbarr O'Regan.

The main feature of this year's 'At Home' was the upsurge of new Oppie sailors who started sailing at KYC this season. Unfortunately, KYC’s sailability fleet was stood down due to a heavy airs forecast although some sailors later went to sea in a Hawk 20.

During the day a large squall with rain went through and this put a lot of the beginner Oppy sailors out of action.

KYC is suffering a shortage of cruiser racers, like many other clubs, and this was evident in the spinnaker class turnout.

The Squibs mustered four boats but one retired before racing.

Published in Kinsale
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Irish crew were aboard one of the joint winners of today's RORC IRC championships on the Solent. This year's IRC National Championship, the 14th since the Royal Ocean Racing Club launched its handicap rule in 2000, had the unusual distinction of joint winners in Adam Gosling's brand new JPK 10.80 Yes! (winner of IRC Two) and the French consortium-owned A35, Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre, (which topped IRC Three).

On board Gosling's IRC Two winner was Nicholas O'Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club and pro–sailor James Hynes of Malahide. Last week's Round Ireland crewman on Phaedo3 Justin Slattery was racing on the stand-out team of Peter Morton's Girls on Film.

Full results here

Two Royal Cork boats were also competing in the Solent competition. Antix (Anthony O'Leary) in the Fast 40+ class and Jump Juice (Conor Phelan) in IRC one both placed sixth overall.

At the prizegiving Gosling thanked the RORC and the race committee; "It was pretty awesome racing considering the tricky conditions."

Benoit D'halluin, helmsman on the Dunkerque boat added: "We are very happy to race in Cowes and we had two good competitors in Bengal Magic and Intention." Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre will return to Cowes in July with the Flanders North Sea team in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

 "It was pretty awesome racing considering the tricky conditions"

 

Unlike stormy Saturday, on a slightly more serene Sunday the race management team was able to hold one windward-leeward in 8-15 knots winds. This was followed by two round the cans races in the central/eastern Solent, during which the wind built to 20+ knots, creating a short sharp chop from the building flood tide.

Stand-out performer of the day was the RORC's Admiral, Andrew McIrvine and his First 40, La Réponse, in IRC Two, which scored three bullets. However even this was not enough to topple Yes!

Gosling said he particularly enjoyed today's round the cans races. "We all had a smile on our face after the short A-sail reach, which the boat was just beautiful on, and then the 140° run when the wind got up to 20+ knots, which was fantastic."

Adam Gosling JPK 1080 Yes

Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80, Yes!

As to their secret, Gosling said his crew have sailed together for years. "We are just trying to learn how to sail this boat, but each time we've gone out, we've sailed a bit better."

Conversely, the Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre crew has been sailing their A35 for years. "We were happy to have good speed," said tactician Philippe Bourgeois. "It was really a pleasure to win the IRC Nationals. We only came here to practice for the Commodores' Cup."

New to the RORC IRC Nationals this year were the two box rule classes, the FAST40+ and the HP30. The most impressive display of the week came in the former, where the stand-out team was Peter Morton's Girls on Film. Aside from one fifth place finish, this Carkeek Mk3 was otherwise never off the podium, putting in a 2-1-3 today with American William Coates's Ker 43, Otra Vez and Irishman Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40, Antix, claiming the other two wins.

Ultimately, Girls on Film finished five points clear of Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. "We think we are fast, especially upwind and quick enough downwind," explained Morton. "In the last race, we bounced back from a pretty horrible start with pure speed. It always looks easy when you're fast." This wasn't entirely without incident, including a luffing match with Invictus after rounding the top mark in the final race that ended with Girls on Film taking a penalty turn.

As to why they have the edge, Morton continued: "It's a hundred little things and we have got a really strong crew - good amateurs and good pros. Our boat handling is pretty good."

Another stand-out performance of the week was that of former RORC Commodore Mike Greville and his Ker 39, Erivale III. Following his recent victory in the Morgan Cup to Dieppe, Greville and his crew have dominated IRC One at the IRC Nationals. Their 9.5 point lead over Rod Stuart and Bill Ram's Corby 37, Aurora, was the biggest margin across any of the five classes.

"We are definitely on a roll," agreed Greville. "We have got some new sails which helped, but we've had new sails before. I did put 10sqm on to the kite and that certainly helps on the downwind legs. The crew work went very well."

Today was one for the Jason Ker designs in IRC One. In addition to Erivale III, Irishman Conor Phelan's Ker 37, Jump Juice, claimed today's second race, while Andrew Williams' Ker 40, Keronimo, won the last race - encouraging in the build-up to her Commodores' Cup with the Israeli team.

After finishing last in the HP30 class during the Vice Admiral's Cup in May, John Reivers this weekend turned around his Melges 32 Drop Bear campaign to claim victory ahead of Malcolm Wootton's Farr 30, Pegasus.

American Lloyd Thornburg, best known as owner of the Phaedo Gunboat and MOD 70 multihulls was again campaigning his Farr 280 FOMO here, but finished third overall.

"It's meant to give us some closer racing," explained Thornburg. "We watched it at Cowes Week last year and we felt like we were missing out - so FOMO stands for 'Fear of missing out!' We are taking it more seriously than we thought. It was supposed to be a bit of a laugh..." FOMO's crew includes Olympic 470 silver medallists Nick Rogers and Stuart Bithell.

"The results are what they are, but we really enjoyed the racing," Thornburg continued. "We had a really good time."

Enhanced by the new box rule classes and this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, this year's IRC Nationals was among the most competitive on record with 61 boats taking part.

Published in RORC
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With the early entry discount for Volvo Cork Week running out on May 1st Royal Cork Yacht Club organisers have been keen to point out innovations for the 2016 edition such as the first ever IRC European Championship and the Beaufort Cup as part of this summer's line–up.

'RCYC has always listened to competitors comments about Cork Week and has never been afraid to make improvements whenever possible', the club say in its latest mail out to competitors

Kieran O'Connell, Chairman of Volvo Cork Week, spoke candidly about the changes to this year's event, brought about by talking to competitors, the real cost of coming to Cork Week is being reduced by pro-active measures.
“When talking to people in Ireland and the UK." commented Kieran O'Connell. "We have been making a big effort to keep the cost down for visiting teams, we have been setting guide prices for local accommodation in Crosshaven and local home owners have been listening and reducing their expectations. For example a 3 bedroom house that sleeps 6 - 8 crew for the week is averaging at €1250 - €1500 or B&B for €50 per night. In 2016 there will also be camping options with toilet and shower facilities.

The committee have undertaken to keep food and beverage costs at normal club rates. Helly Hansen, the Official Clothing Partner to the event will have a retail shop in the regatta village, alongside other notable retailers such as CH Marine and Union Chandlery.

The entertainment line-up is fantastic this year with the event open to the public on Thursday and Friday nights with big name bands performing. The management team is putting a big effort into the apres-sail slot from 4.30 to 7pm, with live music creating the right sort of atmosphere, as the sailors come off the water.

The IRC European Championship is attracting new teams from overseas of a very high standard and the Beaufort Cup is bringing new faces to Volvo Cork Week. The Beaufort Cup invites sailing teams from their associated national services, 50% of each team must be active in the service they represent. Racing will take place over five days in a mix of offshore and inshore courses. The winning team of the Beaufort Cup will also have €10,000 donated to a nominated charity.

For yachts entering before the end of April, there is a prize draw for sailing gear and a weekend 40ft bareboat charter.
Including the one design 1720 and Viper Sportsboats, a wide variety of yachts have already entered Volvo Cork Week, with a significantly higher number of early entries compared to this time in 2014. For yachts entering before the 1st May 2016, there are two prize draws. Volvo Cork Week will be giving away, sailing gear and a weekend 40ft bareboat charter, kindly sponsored by Sovereign Sailing Kinsale.”

The early entry discount for Volvo Cork Week runs out on May 1st.

Published in Cork Week

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Jump Juice (Conor Phelan) has won the 17–boat class two fleet of RORC's Easter Challenge on the Solent today in dramatic fashion. Clubmate Antix (Anthony O'Leary) at the helm of Antix was the winner of today's breezy FAST 40+ race but the Royal Cork yacht did not retain the overall trophy won in 2015 and finished fourth overall.

If traditionally the RORC Easter Challenge is the Royal Ocean Racing Club's coaching regatta, today's lesson centred upon heavy weather sailing technique.

As the fleet returned to yesterday's start area around Peel Bank, conditions were sunny and relatively benign, but with giant grey clouds looming. During today's one race, a squall stuck down the fleet with gale force gusts of up to 40 knots. In addition to numerous broaches, there were two man overboard incidents; one on James Neville's INO XXX racing in the FAST 40+ class, the other on RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse.

On La Réponse the vang trimmer got washed overboard during a Chinese gybe. As McIrvine described it: "We were absolutely dead downwind and a little bit by the lee and a big gust took us the other way. We let the vang off too much and the boat rolled and we Chinesed in."

Fortunately the MOB's lifejacket inflated and they were recovered after a few minutes and hauled onto a RIB by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and lead coach, Jim Saltonstall. The incident cost La Réponse victory in IRC Two, where today's race was claimed by former RORC Commodore Mike Greville on his Ker 39 Erivale III and the class prize went to Ireland's Conor Phelan and his Ker 37, Jump Juice.

Phelan described today: "We were happy to pull it off because the conditions were quite challenging." During the race they saw 35 knots. "I thought we were going to go down the mine on the run," said tactician Mike Budd. "We had to drop the kite and do two gybes at the bottom which was a bit wild but our main competitor [La Réponse] span out at that point which was bad luck to them because they sailed well."

With the big forecast, eight of the 10 FAST40+ class pitched up today but only four finished. While James Neville's INO XXX got away well at the pin, Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II did well being first to hoist her kite. However the South Africans subsequently struggled to retrieve their kite causing it to fly like a flag from the masthead. Eventually the crew relinquished, performing a 'chase boat drop' with the assistance of RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen.

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Anthony O'Leary's Antix at full speed on the Solent this afternoon. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Today's FAST 40+ race was won by Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40, Antix. For the Irish two time Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winner, this event was their first sailing this season. However O'Leary acknowledged that Antix prefers the big conditions. "Pound for pound, we sail better in a gale than in a calm." However, in similar conditions, they had finished fourth in yesterday's race. "We made some silly mistakes and you deserve to get punished for that. Our mark rounding was getting better as the weekend went on."

Ultimately Texan William Coates' Ker 43 Otra Vez was the overall winner of the FAST40+ class' first ever regatta. Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film didn't compete today leaving Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus to take second overall.

Mills stated: "We saw 37 knots of wind and then various things started blowing away and we had a wonderful broach, when we nearly lost one of our guys over the side. We hit something like 23-24 knots downwind, but I had so much water in my face that I couldn't see the instruments. You need a snorkel and goggles! They are wet boats but such great fun to sail. My boat is like racing a dinghy."

Despite a strong challenge from David Franks' JPK 10.10 Strait Dealer, which claimed three bullets in five races, it was the newer, larger JPK 10.80 Sunrise that prevailed in IRC Three, winning today's race.

"This is the first time I have won a yacht race - which is why we're drinking at 1100!" enthused Sunrise's skipper, Tom Kneen. "We've only had the boat for four weeks and she's just astonishing - very very fast and in quite difficult conditions."

Kneen experienced his first Chinese gybe yesterday, but today calmed down, which he attributed to the coaching they received yesterday. "That was very useful - about moving our weight around the boat which makes such a difference. The whole process of this weekend has enabled us to build, so I am looking forward to the season."

In IRC Four Harry Heijst and his Winsome claimed today's race and the overall class win. The conditions over the Easter weekend perfectly suited the classic Dutch S&S 41. One of the most impressive performances in IRC Four was that of the Sam Laidlaw-helmed Quarter Tonner, Aguila. "It is a real handful and very hard to get uphill because you are almost overpowered," said Laidlaw of sailing the mini boat in the big wind. "It was gusting 35-38 knots, but we were planning at 16!"

Quarter Tonners aren't supposed to plane? "Someone forgot to tell the boat that! We got to the bottom of the run and all we could see was white water everywhere. We had a great time - great fun."

Racing Manager, Nick Elliott concluded: "While conditions were challenging over the regatta, this provided the perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience from our world class coaches and will certainly have jump started each participant's season."

Published in RORC

Have you ideas about purchasing the perfect IRC racer with occasional day cruising possibilities? Are you looking at a yacht with an overall length of 25 to 28–ft, to suit a crew of four or five? Are you working off a budget of somewhere between €30–40,000? Maybe you also want the possibility of sleeping on board for a lads weekend with fish and chips for supper? A focus point for your consideration then has to be the Corby 25 which offers so much more potential than a sportsboat. Afloat.ie boats for sale currently has two of these highly successful IRC designs listed for sale.

The Corby 25 is a fast sailing racing boat, it is built and designed to sail with great upwind performance. Corby 25s are typically of GRP hull construction, fitted with a fin keel and bulb and a spade rudder. Due to her relative high weight (2t) 50 % in the keel, the Corby 25 is very stiff, holding all sails up to 20–knots true wind, she reaches an apparent upwind angle of about 17 degrees and therefore has an ability to sail higher than most of her competitors.

These fractional sloops are also fitted with small saildrive inboard diesel engines.

Inside the Corby 25, there are typically four berths: two are under the cockpit and two in the central cabin. One toilet is installed in the front cabin. A flexible water tank is fixed to supply an outside shower with an electric pump. A maritime kitchen (one burner) on gimbals is available in option with an outside gas storage (EU norms).

The first of these listed on Afloat boats for sale is a 2004 version afloat in Cork. At €39,500 she is a previous winner of the ICRA 'Irish Boat of the Year' so has proven speed, according to Boatshed Ireland's Ken Lawless. Full advert here.

The second is a 2000 version an according to seller Liam Burke she is 'not your standard GRP production boat' but custom built by John Corby in the UK from Cedar strip and Epoxy making her lighter and stiffer than the subsequent production models'. At €29,500 this 2000 built boat had a hull respray in 2015. Full advert here.

Published in Boat Sales

Sailing forums have seen exchanges in recent days about the relative global coverage of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s (RORC) measurement system - the International Rating Certificate (IRC) - and the Offshore Racing Congress’s (ORC) Offshore Rating Certificate.

Dobbs Davis (US), the Chairman of the ORC’s Promotions & Development Committee, and Zoran Grubisa (Croatia), who heads the organisation’s Rating Officer Committee, were in Limerick three weeks ago at the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) Annual Conference to make a presentation about their measurement organisation, its methods systems, and its level of world coverage. 

This made available yet another fascinating nugget of top-level information for a wide-ranging conference which reflected the considerable influence the ICRA model has in international racing for boats with lids. And at the same time it ensured a good turnout to applaud the ICRA Boat of the Year title going to George Sisk’s WOW from Dun Laoghaire, and to witness the transfer of the role of ICRA Commodore from Nobby Reilly of Howth to Simon McGibney of Foynes. It’s the first time that ICRA has had a Commodore from the western seaboard since its foundation by Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire and the late Jim Donegan of Cork in 2002.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon was in Limerick to take the pulse of this unique body, and his commentary in Sailing on Saturday of 12th March ruffled more than a few feathers, and greatly heightened interest in the RORC’s global programme, which has its European section swinging into action this weekend with the Easter Challenge on the Solent.

Who knows, but some time in the future it may be that Rory Staunton of Mayo Sailing Club will be remembered as the man who finally got the IRC and the ORC to get together by crisply pointing out - at the end of Dobbs Davis’s presentation to the ICRA conference - that as far as ordinary sailors were concerned, when IRC and ORC were both used in one event, the results often seemed very comparable. And while it was no harm some times to have two sets of winners (and even more if you include ICRA’s own Progressive ECHO system), at the top international level it only makes sense to Joe Public to have one undisputed winner in each class.

For the world promotion of offshore racing, the optics would surely be much better if everyone was racing to the same rating system? But it will take a while yet to reach this happy situation, for at the moment the ORC and the IRC appear to be in active competition, and regular visitors to the Afloat.ie website will be well aware that some very powerful voices have weighed in on the RORC/IRC side recently, going so far as to question the accuracy of the fleet numbers made in some ORC claims, and pointing to the IRC’s current areas of rapid expansion in southeast Asia and other regions.

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Neil Pryde’s characterful Welbourn 52 Hi Fi won the Rolex RORC China Sea Race in 2012 and 2014

But actions speak louder than words, and this week sees the RORC hyper-busy in the Pacific with the biennial Rolex China Sea Race of 595 miles from Hong Kong to Manila in the Philippines, while on the eastern fringes of the Atlantic in the Solent at Cowes, there’s the annual Easter Challenge, an event with an approved integral training emphasis, as top coach Jim Saltonstall and his team will be buzzing through the fleet in their RIBs giving advice to those who have sought it.

With the Easter weekend’s all-too-evident weather deterioration in progress, it’s likely that yesterday will have given the fleet of fifty or so their pleasantest sailing conditions. But with the RORC secretariat decamped for the long weekend from world headquarters in St James’s in London to the club’s waterfront base in the Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes, a sense of being able to go home at the end of a hard day’s racing will ease the harshness of the conditions.

On the other hand, the fact that the RORC now has a bricks-and-mortar Cowes base in what was once the legendary Rosa Lewis’s “seaside cottage” will provide ammunition for those who would claim that the RORC, and the IRC with it, have essentially become a Solent-centric setup. Thus the fact that the Rolex China Sea Race under the RORC imprimatur is taking place at the same time is very helpful indeed for those who would promote IRC as the world’s measurement system.

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The nice little place by the seaside…..The Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes – a byword for hospitality – is now the RORC’s Solent base

In times past, leading Irish skippers with a Hong Kong base such as Paul Winkelmann and Jamie McWilliam have featured in the China Sea Race, for it has a history as a biennial event going back to 1962, when three yachts – one each from Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan – raced this decidedly disputed bit of water. The situation was such that a naval vessel from Hong Kong accompanied them for the first two hundred miles, and then a hundred miles out from Manila, they were met by a ship from the Philipinnes navy.

The line honours and handicap winner was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie, one of those classic American-style yawls of the Finisterre type which were being widely built in the region at the time, mostly for export. They were guaranteed as teak through and through, for as one sardonic observer put it, the wonderwood was so abundant out there in those days that if the team in the boatyard felt like a brew-up of tea, they’d boil their kettle on a little fire made with teak kindling.

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The winner of the first China Sea Race in 1962 was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie

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A trophy to match. Only a race right across the China Sea would merit a prize like this

Reverie’s time was four days 11 hours and 29 minutes, and she got the very distinctive China Sea Trophy, which is of such a style it just couldn’t be the prize for any other major offshore race. Gradually the numbers built up as it became an established biennial event, in 1972 the RORC came aboard as partners, and it hasn’t looked back since. There’s been some spectacular sailings, the record being set in 2000 by Karl Kwok’s Open 60 Beau Geste, which cracked the two day barrier by coming in on 47 hours and 43 minutes, just 17 minutes maybe, but it was 17 minutes the right way.

The races of 2012 and 2014 were won by Neil Pryde’s rather special Hugh Welbourn-designed 52 footer Hi Fi, but she’s not in this year’s fleet which got under way on Wednesday and has the front runners well in already, though only after a start in miserable conditions which improved in terms of sailing power to have a 28-knot nor’easter building in a monsoon. This made the going good the further you were down the course, but yesterday the little fellows at the tail end were taking a bit of a pasting.

Line honours were taken yesterday (Friday) evening by Australian Philip Turner’s Reichel Pugh 66 Alive, which covered 244 nm in the final 24 hours to set a new course record, though just 11 minutes inside Beau Geste’s remarkable 2000 time – who’d have thought it would stand for sixteen years? Overall on handicap, Alive currently also has it every which way, but things are also looking good for the Ker 42 Black Baza (Anthony Root).

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Cutting it close. Anthony O’Leary’s Antix in a neat-enough port-and-starboard situation with the even newer Ker 40 Invictus

Conditions in Manila may not be idyllic, but at least they’re a bit warmer than the Solent this morning with a succession of fronts set to sweep through for much of he remainder of the Easter Holiday. Irish interest is high as Anthony O’Leary’s Munster-red Ker 40 Antix is defending champion, and the skipper was in fine form in Thursday as he outlined prospects and talked us through some of the usual suspects who will be sailing on this very attractive boat.

Following his accident while racing Antix in ferocious conditions last July, it’s great news that Dylan Gannon of Howth is back on the strength, along with his shipmate Ross MacDonald who had a truly prodigious season in 2015, playing a leading role in crewing Antix while at the same time campaigning his family’s veteran X332 Equinox to such good effect that he was top boat at the ICRA Nats in Kinsale.

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Back on the strength. Dylan Gannon (left) and Ross MacDonald are both sailing on Antix his weekend. Photo: W M Nixon

Two new additions to the Antix strength are Will Byrne from Howth, who was recently making the scene with Half Ton Classics World Champion Dave Cullen and the gang in the C & C 30 championship in Florida in January, and young Cian Guilfoyle from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, who leapt to fame as the third man aboard the J/80 when Anthony O’Leary retained the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland by a considerable margin at the NYC in October, with longtime shipmate Dan O’Grady the man in the middle.

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Cian Guilfoyle maximising his righting moment while crewing for Anthony O’Leary in the victory in the Helmsmans Championship, October 2015. Photo: David O’Brien

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Winning team. Cian Guilfoyle, Dan O’Grady and Anthony O’Leary in the NYC after winning the Helmsmans Championshjp 2015. This weekend, Guilfoyle has joined the crew of Antix. Photo: W M Nixon

The other top Irish contender in the RORC Easter Challenge is also from Cork, Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 (or is she a 37) Jump Juice of 2008 vintage. This makes her something of a veteran but she’s by no means the oldest boat competing, as one doughty skipper has turned up with a Mumm 36, which is like a bit of living history. Yet she’s in with as much of a shout as anyone else if the IRC is doing its work properly, which seems to be where we came in…….

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Back in the day…….the new Ker 36 Jump Juice makes her debut in 2008

But we cannot depart without musing on the makeup of this year’s Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup team which will be defending for Ireland. As other people get agitated about the lack of heads above the parapet to indicate the beginnings of a buildup, Anthony O’Leary is reassuringly philosophical about the whole business.

He is of course very much up for it with Antix, and he’s well aware that there’s another good possibility with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (Royal Irish YC) in line to be campaigning the works JPK 1080 as the season gets going, and of course the JPK 1080 is the boat du jour. As for a third boat, if Jump Juice is reluctant to make the commitment, they’ll be on the lookout for a boat rating 1.049 or above.

But it’s early days yet. As O’Leary recalls with quiet amusement, in assembling the 2014 team from scratch and the non-defence of 2012, he refused to let himself think that the new Ker 40 Catapult was a certainty until he actually saw her unloaded from a ship from America onto a quayside in Europe.

Yet she arrived on time. But it was the Steady Eddy of the team, the Grand Soleile 43 Quokka 8, which ended up causing the most concern. Her charter had been firmly in place since November 2013, but then there came a complete foul-up with delivery schedules back from campaigning in the Caribbean. It was more than a rush to have Quokka race ready for the preliminary jousting in Volvo Cork Week in July 2014. But not to worry. She ended up as champion in Cork Week, and made a solid contribution to the Commodore’s Cup win in which Catapult (which has since become Antix) was top-scoring individual boat.

Published in W M Nixon

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) is promoting its inaugural European IRC Championship as part of Cork Week. The London club says the event will 'bring countries together'. 

The International IRC Rating Rule, jointly owned by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL) will be attracting boats from all over the world to the port of Crosshaven in Ireland this year. From 10th to 15th July 2016 the Inaugural European IRC Championship will be take place during the already well-established and popular Volvo Cork Week hosted by the Royal Cork YC, the world’s oldest yacht club.

This exciting addition to the global IRC racing calendar promises to bring boats together from all corners of Europe, where over 4300 boats are IRC rated annually, but is open to all 6000 boats IRC rated worldwide. The Championship invites entries from boats with a valid 2016 IRC rating between 0.850 and 1.320 and the RCYC is expecting entries from 'around the globe'. Early entries include boats from Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, France, the USA and Australia, with interest from South Africa, making it a truly international event.

Back in 1990 Cork Week was the first regatta in the world to use the now ubiquitous windward/leeward race format, but even then the regatta included an innovative and varied mix of racing and 2016 is no exception: courses at the European IRC Championship will include Olympic, trapezoid, slalom and windward/leeward buoy courses plus an 8 hour coastal race, so every boat has a chance to shine on their preferred course type. Results will be calculated using the simple time-on-time IRC time corrector, so competitors can easily see how they are performing around the course.

Another addition to the Week this year is the inaugural International Inter Services Sailing Competition, the Beaufort Cup. Volvo Cork Week 2016 is shaping up to be another unforgettable regatta, and if you have a 2016 IRC rating you can be part of it!

Published in Cork Week

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London says a 'correction is needed' over information contained in an article following an ORC presentation at the ICRA Conference in Limerick, a week ago. Michael Boyd, the Commodore of RORC, says the offshore body 'read with interest', and 'some confusion', the press release by the ORC. Boyd says he feels 'very strongly' that information put forward by Dobbs Davis, Chairman of ORC’s Promotion and Development Committee, 'needs correcting'.

In a statement issued by RORC, who administer the rival IRC system, the club says: 

First, the numbers presented are wrong. Dobbs quotes the number of ORC certificates in total up until the end of the year, but only quotes the number of boats in IRC until the end of August of 2015. These are very different figures. Dobbs quotes 4958 for IRC in 2015 but the real number of certificates for the whole year is 7721. That makes the graph look very different and makes IRC the largest individual system in 2015 with ORC Club behind it at 7404 and ORCi trailing at 2492.

It should also be noted that both IRC and ORC are International Rating Systems recognised by World Sailing and IRC is currently in discussions with World Sailing about having its own World Championship. Rather than having two world championships for offshore boats, we are supporting the WS initiative to have one jointly scored IRC/ORC world championship which will allow the event to travel to other continents.

IRC is expanding with new territories in India and Taiwan, growth in Japan and China and very encouraging numbers for the start of the year from many Northern European countries.

IRC is also flexible and not limited to using time-on-time scoring - as has also been suggested. A simple time-on-distance calculation can be applied to create a time-on-distance value, should race organisers want to use it. Similarly, crew number or crew weight can be applied depending on the race organiser’s needs and wishes.

IRC is doing a great job for our sport – you only have to look at the style of boats that have developed since the demise of IMS (the basis of ORC) to understand that IRC is a progressive rule – with the latest generation of boats being fast, safe and fun to sail. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a first class service and develop a product that is constantly evolving to make sure that racing under IRC is as fair as is possible.

- Michael Boyd, Commodore, ROYAL OCEAN RACING CLUB

Published in RORC

At the annual meeting of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) in Limerick last weekend, past president Norbert Reilly invited representatives from the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) to address the assembled crowd of over 60 delegates on features of ORC’s rating systems. Here the ORC's Dobbs Davis gives an overview of the Irish presentation.

The interest from ICRA is in response to the recent growth and popularity the ORC system has seen in recent years around the world: the system issued over 10,000 certificates in 2015 in some 40 countries, has been growing yearly while other international systems are struggling, and yet its not in use at all in Ireland.

What the delegates saw was a presentation on the history of the organisation, which goes back over 40 years into the IOR era, over a decade in IMS, and is now emerged as an improved and accessible science-based system suited for a wide variety of boat types that generates three distinct styles of rating certificates: ORC Club, ORC International, and ORC Superyacht. Of the 15,000 measurement-based certificates issued around the world, two-thirds are issued by ORC in one of these three formats.

ORC - IRC trends 2006 - 2015

A plot of the growth of ORC contrasted to IRC in the last 10 years

There are five salient features of the system: that it is objective and science-based, it is open and transparent to use, it is accessible online, it is flexible with a variety of scoring styles suited for different types of racing, and that its affordable.

The objectivity comes from use of a sophisticated Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) which through input of measurements of a boat’s hull and appendage profiles, its rig and sail dimensions and other inputs, can calculate the boat’s theoretical speed in a variety of conditions of wind speed and wind angles. To remain relevant to modern designs and improve the methods used in the VPP calculations, it is developed continuously by experts on the International Technical Committee (ITC), which includes talent such as Andy Claughton from the Wolfson Unit at Univ. of Southampton (and now the BAR AC programme), designers Jason Ker, Shaun Carkeek, and others from Farr Yacht Design, Judel/Vrolijk and others.

In fact, the ITC is meeting soon in Annapolis USA to discuss improvements in a variety of areas in response to inquiries from users. This is an important feedback loop that ORC has to continually seek to improve the accuracy of its system. The ORC VPP and its rules are not secret, and are available for download at the ORC website (www.orc.org).

Because the system is open and transparent, ORC has worked hard to make it as accessible as possible to its users. All valid ORC Club and ORCi certificates issued since 2009 are available from ORC’s unique portal to its rating system, the ORC Sailor Services. After registering for a free log-in credential, anyone can access these certificates for free, as well as some 88,000 measurement records that date back 20 years into the IMS era. The searchable database can be used to research the measurements and ratings for any boat in the system, run a test certificate on the current ORC VPP, run a Speed Guide report of the polar performance of the boat or a Target Speed report of the boat’s polar speed targets on a windward-leeward course.

The system also has an edit function that allows a boat’s measurements sails, spars, or crew weight to be changed so that test certificates can be run to explore the effects of these changes on rating. Test certificates are not valid for racing, but can give the user insight on how to optimise their boat for performance…most systems discourage this with limits and high costs placed on test certificates, but ORC’s open approach allows this to better educate its users on their set-up options.

Because the “rating” for a boat is in fact a matrix of speed values generated by the VPP, ORC’s scoring options are varied for use by race organisers: they can be very simple, where all wind angle and wind speed predictions are condensed into a single number, or quite complex, where inputs of wind angle and course length are used to model the boat’s speed around the course, and their corrected time is calculated based on their relative performance to their competitors on this course.

There is also a hybrid approach, called Triple Number, where for either an inshore or offshore course the ratings are expressed as a function of Light, Medium or Heavy wind speeds. This is a very common scoring style used in ORC Club fleets.

Because ORC uses numerous measurements of a boat’s hull, rig and sails, and there are a variety of scoring options available for race managers, there is less tendency for type-forming rating bias in specific designs such as seen in other single-number systems. This allows the system to be more fair across a wide spectrum of boat types and styles, and the test fleet used to evaluate the system is comprised of some 1500 different designs. It’s thus less relevant to label a boat as being “an ORC design” like is typically seen in other systems.

Proof of this can be seen in the results of the highest-level ORC Championships, the Worlds and the Europeans: recent podium finishers have been not only top-level pro teams sailing on full-race boat types, like TP 52’s, GP 42’s, etc, but well-prepared teams racing production dual-purpose designs as well, such as Swan 42’s, Swan 45’s, X-41’s, X-37’s, etc. The racing at ORC championships is popular – over 100 entries from over 20 countries in the last 5 years at the Worlds – and its close: races are often won and lost by mere seconds in corrected time.

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The ORC 2015 World Championships off Barcelona

This year’s ORC World Championship will be in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish YC over July 15-23, and the ORC European Championship will be over July 3-10 in Porto Carras, Greece. There are already 130 entries are signed up for the Worlds, which promises to be another great week of inshore and offshore racing.

The ease and affordability of ORC certificates is determined by the policies and prices set by national rating offices, who are not centrally controlled but have all the tools needed to generate their own ORC certificates for their local customers.

Response to the talk on ORC was generally well-received by the ICRA audience, with particular interest from the fleet in Dublin Bay to try some ORC Club certificates and look at some dual-scoring exercises in the coming season. The attraction expressed to use of ORC is being able to have multiple scoring options to differentiate more fairly across varied boat types in the same race, and the general openness and objectivity of the system.

Dobbs Davis is ORC Media Consultant

Read also: Crazy But It Works: ICRA's Success Is a Highlight of Irish Sailing Scene

Published in ICRA
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