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Can IRC Rating Do More for Older Boats? Sailors Weigh In With Their Thoughts

19th March 2023
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Is the IRC Rating system no longer fit for purpose? That’s what some in the sailing community feel, and they’ve been sharing their thoughts on the Afloat Magazine Facebook page.

Commenting on our recent story noting the 91 IRC certs confirmed so far on the island of Ireland for the 2023 cruiser-racer season, Dublin Bay sailor Paul Bradley says the IRC Rating office “need to practice what they preach”.

Citing IRC’s claim to “promote the competitive longevity of race boats”, Bradley says: “So how does rating a 27-year-old 31ft one-off cruiser-racer higher than a much younger J109 which is 4ft longer, has a much bigger sail area and is clearly quicker on the water compute to that mantra?”

He adds: “Surely the whole idea of IRC is to rate boats of all design and shapes fairly so they can all compete equally, and it’s left to the level of crew work/tactics to decide who wins on the race course.”

Bradley crews on the Mills 33 Raptor and says the team “have had continuous discussions with the rating office over many years, have presented detailed submissions but have been stonewalled every time.

“We race with friends/likeminded people, have competed in all major Irish events in Ireland since 2006 and will continue to do so, but it’s very frustrating to always be on the back foot with an unfair rating before you even get to the race course.”

Bradley says that Raptor has a VPRS rating but claims there is no appetite from the DBSC or Class 1 boats to adopt the system.

He adds: “IRC have admitted their handicap algorithm doesn’t rate narrow beam boats well but have done nothing to overcome this.”

That prompted fellow sailor Andrew Sarratt to reply: “And they won’t — that’s why some clubs in the UK have moved away from IRC.”

What do you think? Is there a growing demand to move away from IRC ratings in Ireland to reflect the modern diversity of the cruiser-racer fleet? Or are complaints of its inefficacy overblown? Have your say on our Facebook page or email [email protected]

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  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
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