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#cruiserracing – The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) has dropped plans to create a new handicap division at the bottom end of class 1 and the top of class 2 for its IRC national championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) next month, one of the biggest events of the Irish sailing calendar.

The ICRA event, that is aiming for a record entry of over 110 boats, is a handicap based regatta which means any decision affecting rating bands and in what class boats sail can be a contentious issue.

ICRA's handicapping chief Denis Kiely explained yesterday 'there wasn't enough interest/entries and while this is somewhat disappointing we have to work with what we have not what we would like to have'.

The turnaround means the championships will have a more traditional configuration of Divisions 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 in spite of the class band shake–up that was hinted at November's annual conference.

The non-spinnaker boats [Corinthian Cup] will most likely be in 2 divisions and they will be numbered 5 and 6.

In an up date to skippers yesterday Kiely said arrangements are still provisional until remaining entries are in but it is very unlikely that the divisions configuration will change hereafter - individual boats at the margins may be a different matter.

Published in ICRA

#corby25 – A Corby 25 IRC cruiser–racer built by Harley Yachts, is on market, just in time for competition at the ICRA Nationals in Dun Laoghaire in June and Cork Week in July.

Thunderbird has been well maintained and stored inside every winter. The 2004 build is advertised on Afloat Boats for Sale site through Northern Ireland broker Whyboats Northern Ireland.

One of the most successful designs drawn by John Corby, these 25–footers have been extremely successful in Ireland, the UK and wins include the Irish IRC nationals Class 2 from 2007 to 2001 and Cork Week - IRC 5 in 2010 and 2008. The Corby 25 was awarded Yacht of the Year in 2009.

On sale at €25,000, Thunderbirds are go! Full advert here.

Published in Boat Sales

#IRC – A brand new Welsh IRC championships dubbed the 'Celtic Regatta' is to be staged at the Welsh National Sailing Academy in Pwllheli. It will be promoted in Dun Laoghaire this weekend by Stephen Tudor, an Irish Sea ISORA Champion and the Commodore of Pwllhelli Sailing Club.

The event flyer (downloadable below as a jpeg file) carries the logos of the National Yacht Club and ISORA.

Tudor says there has been a very strong and positive response to proposals for the 2014 IRC Welsh National Championships following the previous announcement regarding the date for the event - 1st to 3rd August 2014. (4th is a bank holiday in Ireland).

Tudor comes to Dun Laoghaire this weekend for the ISORA agm and black tie prizegiving at the National Yacht Club tomorrow and aims to recruit as much interest from this side of the Irish Sea as possible.

The event aims to build on the long established links between Ireland and Wales and in particular between the Clubs on each side if the Irish Sea.

So far Tudor has produced an initial promotional flyer for the three day event and a copy is attached below as a jpg document for download.

The IRC National Championship is an open event and will use the facilities of the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre and will draw on the skill and experience of the Academy's event team who regularly run World and European Championships.

Work on the £8.3M Academy facilities starts in the new year.

This work says Tudor will enhance and extend the events capacity in Pwllheli and will improve access to the world renowned sailing waters of Cardigan Bay with the provision of new dedicated visitor and events berths with cranes located adjacent to the Marina.

The substantial dredging work is expected to be completed before the start of the sailing season. The iconic and new state of the art Academy building will be ready for the 2015 season and will incorporate a café/restaurant and club house all of which will have views of the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia and mid Wales will provide a spectacular backdrop.

Published in ICRA
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#welshircnationals – At their annual meeting on 12th September, the GBR IRC Committee approved the IRC GBR Regional Championships for 2014 to be held in Pwllheli.
The date proposed for the Championships is to coincide with the Pwllheli Regatta between 1st and 4th August 2014. An 'Event Organising Committee (EOC)' is now been setup and anyone wishing to contribute should contact Stephen Tudor at Pwllheli SC

Published in ICRA

#RORC - The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Rating Office is launching an international competition next week to select the photograph that will grace the front cover of the 2014 edition of the RORC IRC Yearbook, published by Yachting World.

Entry to the 2014 Yearbook Competition, which kicks off on 15 July, is restricted to two submissions per person to be submitted by 30 August 2013.

A shortlist selected from all the entries will then be judged by Yachting World's racing and technical editor Matthew Sheahan, RORC's technical director Mike Urwin, award-winning photographer Ian Roman and marine leisure PR consultant Peta Stuart-Hunt.

The judges will be looking for an exciting image that reflects the club racing ethos of IRC rating. This may be round-the-mark action from one of your local club weekend races, a fleet shot from a weekday 'twilight' race, or perhaps a lucky catch from one of the offshore classics.

They will not be looking for the 'glamour shot' of a exotic, high-tech racing boat so much as something that encompasses everything IRC stands for - competitive racing for all.

The winner will be notified by 30 September 2013 and will receive a certificate, and have their photo featured on the cover of the 2014 RORC IRC Yearbook, with appropriate credit as agreed with the winner. There is no monetary prize.

The competition rules are available on the RORC Rating Office website HERE.

Published in RORC

RORC British National Champions are decided, but Ireland's sole contender, Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix has to make do with seventh after a frustrating conclusion to the weekend series yesterday, writes Louay Habib.

Race 6 provided the final twist in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. There was a tense end to a fascinating encounter for 54 yachts from seven different countries competing at the regatta. All classes got away off Gillkicker Point but a substantial shift in the light breeze was too much to provide fair racing and the race was abandoned shortly after the start.

Several yachts will have been frustrated by the decision, especially, the Irish national champion, Antix, Tim Thubron's First 40.7, Puma Logic, and Adam Goslings, Corby 36, Yes!. However the wind shift was more than 50 degrees and ending the championship in that manner would have been unfair.

At 1200 the Race Committee put an end to racing for the RORC IRC National Championship and as the gun sounded a big cheer went up from Andrew Pearce's British Ker 40, Magnum 3, which won a highly competitive Class One. Andrew Pearce and his crew were all smiles at the prizegiving especially as Magnum 3 was also crowned Overall RORC IRC National Champion 2013.

"Absolutely thrilled we have had two cracking days of racing," smiled Andrew at the prizegiving. "Despite the light weather the wind direction over the two days we raced was consistent and everybody has had a really good time. We are just so very pleased to have won against the best opposition we have ever encountered. The boat and the crew have done so well and in conditions that aren't favourite for a Ker 40. Last year we won our class on the last race, this year to lead from the start and win overall has been a dream come true."

Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, was second in IRC One and received the Jackdaw Trophy for second overall under IRC. Magnus Leask's British Swan 42, Magical Mystery Tour, was third in class.

The battle of the British TP52s went to Johnny Vincent's Pace scoring four wins out of five against Sir Keith Mills' 5 West. "We started this regatta as the underdogs so it has been very satisfying to win," commented Johnny. "We have also seen how well the crew and the boat are performing. No doubt we will be racing against 5 West at Cowes Week next month and we expect just as good competition."

The French flag was proudly flying from Olivier Pesci's Grand Soleil 40, Beelzebuth 3, after winning IRC Two. Former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter racing British Grand Soleil 43, Trustmarque Quokka, was second and Adam Gosling's Cowes based Corby 36, Yes! was third.

"This was our first time at the IRC Championship and we are very happy, the organisation and the sunny weather has been a real joy. We are delighted to have won and proud to represent France at the regatta," commented Olivier Pesci.

James Chalmers' Weymouth crew on board J/35, Bengal Magic, scored the lowest net points of any yacht at the regatta and was crowned IRC National Champion for IRC Three. Last year's overall winner David Franks' JPK10.10, Strait Dealer from Cowes, was second in class just half a point ahead of Peter Morton's Lymington based Corby 33, Salvo.

"It has come as a complete surprise to win our class!" commented an ecstatic James Chalmers. "We have been racing against some well sailed boats but now and again everything clicks together and that has been the case this weekend. We are absolutely thrilled to be national champions. I have just spent a fortune with Spinlock, so I am delighted to hear that we will be receiving some prizes from them, as well!"

National Champion in IRC Four was awarded to Nick and Adam Munday racing J/97, Indulgence, who won three of the five races sailed. Richard Sparrow's J/92, Who's to No and Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp, tied on points but second place was awarded to Who's to No on countback.

A packed crowd attended the RORC IRC National Championship prizegiving where class winners were awarded with RORC decanters and event sponsor Spinlock, represented by James Hall, provided Spinlock Deckvest LITE liejackets, Deckpacks and Kneepads as prizes.

Full results here 

Published in RORC
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The Irish Cruiser Racing Associtation (ICRA) has been given a ringing endorsement of the scoring system deployed at the cruiser national championships in Tralee by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London who see the Irish dual scoring system 'providing balance and parity'.

Even though Kerry was judged as a remote venue from the major cruiser-racer centres of Dublin and Cork it still managed to pull bigger numbers than for example those who contest the British IRC nationals. A fact Water Rat refered to last week in a piece on Ireland's event sustainability. 

"In Ireland, all races are dual scored under both IRC and ECHO, the Irish national performance handicap system. ECHO is then 'managed' to ensure that the keen racers don't win under both systems. It works - Ireland has the largest number of boats racing per capita, per mile of coastline, or any other way you measure it. " said the RORC's Mike Urwin.

Of course it is something Irish cruiser racer followers have known for sometime. WM Nixon refered to it recently in his Afloat.ie blog (Echoes of the Republic up North) in April. 

It is no secret that RORC's Rating Office, the technical arm of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and gatekeeper for the IRC rating rule in the UK, supports the use of local and national performance handicaps. Far from being in competition with IRC, properly administered handicap systems complement it by bringing new people into the sport and igniting their competitive spirit.

The Rating Office is optimistic that owners move into IRC when they feel they have 'outgrown' performance handicap racing, and recognises that it provides an ideal introduction to the sport. However, if your club usually splits boats between local handicap and IRC classes, this can mean unsatisfactory racing in small, fragmented fleets with large variations in performance.

One option for overcoming this is what Mike Urwin, RORC Technical Director, refers to as 'the Irish solution' and the joint use of ECHO and IRC.

Urwin contends that this allows those new to racing to compete in a larger, mixed fleet with a handicap that is adjusted to reflect their performance. As they become more experienced and their handicap increases, those sailors become less interested in the handicap result and more interested in getting an IRC result. It encourages newcomers, (especially if they beat the local favourite!) and produces better racing, as Urwin explains:

"Instead of splitting the fleet into 'club' and 'IRC', everybody races together with class splits based on speed if there are enough entries. Everyone gets a result in the handicap class, and those with an IRC certificate also get a result in the IRC class. Both classes have the same status on the noticeboard and the same prizes."

For performance handicaps and dual scoring to work well, the handicap system must be administered progressively and updated on a weekly, race by race basis. It does not work if a handicap is set at the beginning of the season but never changed!

For handicap racing and dual scoring in the UK, the RORC Rating Office recommends the new RYA National Handicap for Cruisers (NHC) alongside IRC. The Rating Office is very happy to advise clubs on dual scoring.

Published in ICRA
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104 boats are lining up for the opening race of the RORC domestic offshore racing season, the Cervantes Trophy. Organised by RORC in association with the Société des Régates du Havre and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Cervantes Trophy race kicks off on Saturday 4th May from the RYS line taking the fleet across the channel to finish in Le Havre.

The weather conditions leading up to the race look uncertain with a complex pressure system over northern Europe which will make it a good test for the international fleet from Belgium, Britain, France, The Netherlands and Russia.

In IRC One Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, is back racing and will relish the opportunity of taking on Laurent Gouy's French Ker 39, Inis Mor, the reigning Season's Points Champion. Inis Mor beat Tonnerre de Breskens in a photo–finish last season and the Tonnerre crew will want to reverse the order this year. Two Ker 40s will also be racing in IRC One: Andrew Pearce's Magnum III and Edward Broadway's Hooligan VII, both experienced offshore racers with an eye on the overall prize.

The Army Sailing Association's brand new J/111, British Soldier, is the scratch boat in IRC Two. Reigning IRC Two champion, Puma Logic sailed by race charter company Sailing Logic, returns to defend their title and last year's runner up, La Réponse skippered by RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine, will renew the battle they enjoyed last season.

IRC Three has a fleet of 31 yachts ranging from Ben Morris' vintage Swan 55 Yawl, Lulotte, to Noel Racine's proven French pocket-rocket, JPK10.10, Foggy Dew. Last year's IRC Three winner and RORC Yacht of the Year, Diablo-J skippered by Nick Martin, drops a division to race in IRC Four.

IRC Four is the biggest class with 37 entries including the IRC Four 2012 champion, Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome. Harry Heijst has done a big re-fit to his classic yacht and is looking to repeat his class win and determined to win the overall season's points championship.

Four Class40s will be racing under class rules; Al Bucq, Concise 2, Fortissimo and Swish will be using the race as a warm up for their Rolex Fastnet Race campaigns.

Two handed sailing continues to grow with 18 yachts racing, confirming the attractiveness of this discipline. Diablo-J will be defending the IRC Two-Handed title won last year, as Nick Martin explains:

"Here we go again!" smiled Nick. "It's seven months since the last race of the 2012 season, which saw Diablo-J clinch the Two-Handed and IRC Three titles, 3rd in IRC overall and the coveted RORC 'Yacht of the Year'. It's all to play for again, with a clean slate and no advantage! Every race has to be fought hard and won. We've done a lot of pre-season preparation; replacing, fixing, upgrading and ensuring everything works as it should for performance and safety. And for me, a particular feature for the season - ensuring I have a dependable co-skipper for the full season (unlike last year with 5 different guys!). Andy Boyle from Dublin, Ireland, with whom I won the Two-Handed and Team Trophy in the 2012 Round Ireland Race, is fully signed up and we're excited about the season ahead."

A warm welcome is ensured for all competitors when they arrive at Le Havre and for those interested in racing back to Cowes there is the Trophée Guillaume Le Conquérant race organised by the Société des Régates du Havre in association with RORC and the Island Sailing Club, Cowes, starting on Sunday 5th May from Le Havre.

For more information visit the RORC website: www.rorc.org

Published in RORC
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#Caribbean - The Christmas Caribbean Rally is offering £100 (€116) off the entry fee for the first Irish yacht to sign up for this year's event.

According to organisers Sailing Rallies, entries from England, the Netherlands, Spain and as far afield as Australia have already signed up for the next Caribbean cruising event, which departs from Lanzarote headed for Antigua on 16 December.

Taking place over the Christmas holiday period at a time when the trade winds should be fully established and the risk of hurricanes is at its lowest, the rally is intended to be a flexible, relaxing and enjoyable affair for skippers and crews alike.

Entry sizes are equally flexible, with the smallest entrant so far at 21 feet (6.5m) ranging up to 63ft (19.5m).

For those who prefer a more competitive event, organisers are working in conjunction with the Royal Southampton Yacht Club to run a full IRC racing division for the rally.

More information on the Christmas Caribbean Rally is available from the Sailing Rallies website HERE.

Published in Cruising

#rorc – The RORC Rating Office acting as the GBR IRC Rule Authority will be introducing a new initiative in GBR in 2013. Owners who only enter one or two IRC races a year will be able to apply for an IRC Limited Validity (LV) TCC at a reduced price.

At the end of 2011 the Rating Office undertook an online survey primarily aimed at owners and clubs that do not currently use IRC. One finding of the survey was that a potentially considerable number of boats do only a single event each year and are deterred by applying for an IRC certificate because of the cost. Mike Urwin, RORC Technical Director, explains the idea behind the initiative:

"The Limited Validity TCC is aimed at encouraging these boats to try IRC with the hope that they will then upgrade to a full certificate in the future. It will be offered on a trial basis in GBR only for 2013, with a view to extending it to other IRC countries if the trial is successful. It will be a loss leader for the Rating Office since producing an LV TCC will involve the same amount as work as a standard certificate, but this is all about encouraging people into IRC racing".

The LV TCC is not available to boats that hold a current valid certificate, and is defined as "an IRC TCC issued by the IRC Rating Authority for use by a boat for a race or regatta (or part of) comprising races run over not more than 9 consecutive days including any lay days". Boats will be limited to holding two separate LV TCCs per year. The TCC will be compatible with standard IRC ratings so that Clubs can incorporate boats into their IRC classes with no changes other than some extra words in the Notice of Race. However, no certificate will be issued and the boat will not appear on the online IRC listings; clubs and events that have been approved to accept LV TCCs will receive a list of the ratings specific to their event. Clubs are encouraged to consider LVs for their main events and contact the Rating Office in good time if they want to participate.

The cost of an LV TCC in 2013 will be £1.50 per metre LH plus £5.00 per day of validity. An example cost comparison for a 10 metre boat entering a single 4-day event would be: Standard IRC certificate £101.50 (online fee), LV TCC £35.00. In addition, if an owner subsequently wishes to upgrade to a full IRC certificate a discount will be applied to the application fee.

Published in RORC
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