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Rolex Sydney Hobart - ORCi in its second year

'Crew of Two True at Constitution Dock - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2009 - winners under IRC and ORCi'    Crosbie Lorimer    Click Here to view large photo

Rolex Sydney Hobart - After introducing a dual-scoring option last year, entries in this year’s RSHYR once again have two choices for scoring in measured handicap rules: IRC and ORC International (ORCi).

IRC has for years been the benchmark system used for the race, but some members of CYCA and others wanted to try ORCi for its ability to offer more predictable handicapping compared to the IRC’s 'black box' approach, its tendency to be less type-forming than IRC, and that stability measurements are used in the rating calculations for each boat.

So after a modest introduction in last year’s race, which saw Andrew Saies’s First 40 Two True prevail in both systems, there has been an increase this year in entries wishing to also be scored in ORCi: three divisions have been formed with a total of 32 entries among the 90 total in the fleet.

Like IRC, ORCi entries will be scored with a single-number time-on-time handicap called the Offshore GPH (General Purpose Handicap), which is calculated as an average of the time allowances of 8 and 12 knots true wind speed for a Circular Random course, which is a hypothetical course type in which the boat circumnavigates a circular island with the true wind velocity held constant.

So, if the two systems are using a single number general handicap, what is different about ORCi than IRC?

There are several differences, mainly in the approach and philosophy of each rule. While IRC promotes simplicity in measurement and scoring, it remains a secret rule intended to discourage designer manipulation and optimization. But human nature being what it is, this process happens anyway among IRC designs, so type forms have therefore emerged which optimize a boat’s performance to its rating. These include, for example, a strong tendency to favour heavier cruiser/racers in the 40-foot range, while lightweight high-performance boats are generally favoured over 50 feet.

The problems arise when one has a boat which is not in the type form, such as Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas’s AFR Midnight Rambler, a modified Farr 40. This boat is lighter than what IRC would like, so Psaltis has been an early supporter of trying out ORCi to get better equity among the variety of boat types in his fleet.

The reason for this difference comes back to the rule philosophy, where ORCi attempts to model boat performance using a sophisticated VPP approach, using a wide variety of measurements of the boat, the rig and the sails. Among these measurements is a stability test to measure righting moment, an important element to boat performance that IRC ignores.

In fact, measurement of stability is what enables boats with canting keels to usually get a better break in ORCi: note that the difference in rating between two Cookson 50’s - Chris Bull’s Jazz and Nicholas Bartels’s Terra Firma – is much less in ORCi than in IRC.

But often these differences can be overwhelmed by the more essential aspects of winning offshore races: preparation, sailing skill, navigation, strategy, etc…or in a long race like the Hobart, just being in the right place at the right time.

But the debates between IRC and ORCi may become moot in a year or two, as the offshore rating rule world has been rocked by the recent news that the world’s two major rating rule authorities – RORC with IRC and ORC with ORCi and ORC Club – are in merger talks, with the goal to have one single rating rule authority among their two constituencies. Primarily IRC has been strong among the Anglo-based cultures, whilst ORC has been strong in the non-Anglo cultures, with both sides claiming about 7-8000 certificates issued worldwide yearly.

Once merged at the business level, however, it will take some considerable effort to reconcile the differences in technical handling of the rules, so stay tuned for long debates as this process unfolds. But the prospect of having a single rating authority has enough strong support worldwide to keep the momentum pushing this way, especially in cultures where both systems are used without enough critical mass in either to support large fleets and good racing.

But let’s see what happens on the race to Hobart…its up now to the weather and the racers to help show us the way forward.

ORCi Division 1        
Sail No   Boat Name Owner Design ToT
SM 5252 Calm Williams / Van Der Slot / Ainley Farr Tp52 1.2882
  5299 Jazz Chris Bull Cookson 50 1.2762
  10081 Lahana Peter Millard & John Honan Bakewell - White 30m 1.6343
  98888 Limit Alan Brierty Reichel-Pugh 62 1.4537
  10007 Pretty Fly III Colin Woods Cookson 50 1.2798
AUS 70 Ragamuffin Syd Fischer Tp52 1.2709
M 330 Shamrock Tony Donnellan Reichel Pugh 1.2261
SM 24 Terra Firma Nicholas Bartels Cookson 50 1.2450
GBR 6821R Titania Of Cowes Richard Dobbs Swan 68 1.2168
ORCi Division 2        
Sail No   Boat Name Owner Design ToT
  8338 AFR Midnight Rambler Ed Psaltis & Bob Thomas Farr/Welbourne 40 1.0954
R 420 Cadibarra 8 Paul Roberts Jones 42 1.1429
R 33 Chutzpah Bruce Taylor Caprice 40 1.1670
  46 Exile Robert Reynolds DK46 1.1614
S  390 Jazz Player Andrew Lawrence Bakewell-White Z39 1.0806
  360 Patrice Six Tony Kirby X-41 Od 1.0705
  8975 Salona II Phillip King Salona 44 1.0653
  8300 Secret Mens Business #1 Curtis/Ross/Trembath Murray 42 1.1048
  370 She's The Culprit Todd Leary Jones 39 1.0950
  1545 Victoire Darryl Hodgkinson Beneteau 45 1.0781
ORCi Division 3        
Sail No   Boat Name Owner Design ToT
  6321 Allegro John Taylor Cavalier 395 0.9618
SM 2004 Another Challenge Chris Lewin Sydney 38 1.0477
  407 Blunderbuss Tony Kinsman First 40.7 1.0098
  6834 Chancellor Ted Tooher Beneteau F40 1.0310
  142 Crossbow Cutcliffe/Stenhouse/Murray Beneteau First 36.7 0.9584
AUS 169 Nautical Circle The Crew Archambault 40 1.0351
  11407 Shepherd Centre Hugh Torode Beneteau 40.7 1.0090
  6338 Shining Sea Andrew Corletto Sydney 38 1.0434
  6073 Swish Steven Proud Sydney 38 1.0430
YC 400 Two True Andrew Saies First 40 1.0450
  5900 Wahoo Graham Mulligan Frers 40 0.9746
  7407 Wave Sweeper Morgan Rogers Beneteau 40.7 0.9966
SM 5558 Young Ones Ian Miller Young 11 1.0118

by Dobbs Davis


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12:55 AM Fri 24 Dec 2010 GMT

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