The Lymington (UK) based Rating Office, headquarters of the world's most popular rating system IRC, is to be managed by Dr Jason Smithwick. Following on from academia, roles in the research industry and sailing's international federation Smithwick will take up his post at the head of a team of four full-time staff and several external consultants on 3rd July this year.
Established in 1974 the Rating Office has been coordinating the measurement of sailing boats and the issuing of rating certificates for over 43 years. Regarded by many as 'the centre of excellence for yacht measurement' it is one of very few mythical buildings in the world of sailing. The work that has been done inside its four walls over the years, producing ratings and handicaps for sailing boats of all shapes and sizes so as to race equitably over long and short courses, is the foundation piece of a huge multi-billion pound international sport and its associated industry. Over the years the Rating Office staff have been coordinating the measurement and rating of everything from IOR boats in the '70s and 80's, IMS in the early '90s and CHS in the '80s and '90s which evolved into IRC in use today.
In addition to calculating ratings the office is involved in the management, measurement and in some cases, the creation of class rules for fleets such as the Whitbread 60, the current VOR 65, the new Club Swan 50, Swan 45 class, Mumm 30 and Mumm 36 classes, Nautor Swans, Wallys, Maxi 72 and countless other sub-groupings that use the IRC Rule today. The Rating Office is also actively involved in international safety standards for yacht racing and has key roles in RYA and World Sailing working groups and committees.
Dr Jason Smithwick (45) graduated from Southampton University in 1994 continuing in the world of academia for another 10 years gaining his doctorate and eventually ending up as Principal Engineer & Software Manager at the world renowned Wolfson Unit. The next stage in his career was in the role of Technical and Offshore Director at sailing's international federation, known today as World Sailing.
"The role of Director of Rating is something that completely fits my experience and passion. Racing yachts, numbers and the greater racing community is what gets me out of bed in the morning. This is a dream job and I am honoured to follow in a long line of individuals that have handled this foundation piece of the sport of yacht racing and continue the important work that has been done by my predecessors and their colleagues," said Dr. Smithwick.
With rating rule stability in a dynamic technological age owners, clubs, sponsors and the marine industry at large can continue to invest with real confidence in the sport of sailing.
"I'm really pleased to find someone of Jason's experience and technical knowledge to head up the Rating Office in Lymington. The importance of the role played by the Rating Office staff over the years cannot be overstated. By calculating ratings and issuing rating certificates the foundation for equitable racing between disparate boats is established. This in turn enables many thousands of sailing boats to populate regatta and club race courses the world over. Jason's appointment will give IRC especially, and the sport in general, stability and real confidence for the future," said Eddie Warden Owen, RORC Chief Executive and Interim Rating Office Director