sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : How Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race winners are anointed
How Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race winners are anointed

'Last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner Loki performs well in IRC and has many podium places to show for it.'    © Rolex/Daniel Forster    Click Here to view large photo

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is all about who gets there first for many casual spectators and also many in the media. There are few sights in sport more awesome than a 100 foot super maxi blasting through the waves at better than 25 knots. It takes incredible skill, teamwork, resolve and cash to win line honours in a race as long, tactically complex and downright cantankerous as the Hobart.

And anyway, isn’t that what races are - a race to be first across the line?

Yet in this race, it is very rare for a boat to both win line honours and come first (win overall). Wild Oats XI was the last to do it when she famously took line honours, won the race and broke the record in 2005.

If the winner was the first across the line, then the fleet this year would be maybe four, five boats, not the 78 that will line up on Boxing Day. Those other 74 odd boats aren’t there to make up the numbers - they are there to win the Tattersall’s Cup - the true holy grail of Australian ocean racing.

The winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart isn’t the first to get there, it’s the boat that takes the least time, or should we say, the least 'handicapped' time, such as players have in golf.

Build a big carbon fibre thoroughbred with a canting keel and of course it will get to Hobart before a modest, conventional little boat, but the Rolex Sydney Hobart isn’t just a race between yachts, it’s a contest between crews. So this is a handicap race.

For a time between 1999 and early 2003, Hobart yachts competed under both the IMS and IRC handicapping systems, with the top IMS boat winning the Tattersall’s Cup. But in the 2004 race, the CYCA determined that the yacht that won on IRC would henceforth win the race outright.

Under the IRC rule, an owner takes a whole lot of fairly straightforward measurements of his or her yacht; the length, weight, overhangs and sail sizes, whether the boat has a fixed or canting keel, water ballast, carbon fibre or aluminium mast.

That information is sent to the Rating Office of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in the UK, which then issues a rating for the boat, which is basically a multiplier of the boats elapsed time during a race.

Each hour the boat takes to finish is multiplied by its rating time handicap factor to produce its corrected time. The higher the rating, the bigger the multiplier, the bigger the difference between handicap time and elapsed time.

Think of it this way. Each boat is effectively compared to a theoretical yacht with a 1 rating, so its rating is how many minutes it should be ahead of or behind that theoretical yacht after an hour’s sailing if both crews are sailing their boats as well as they can.

The winner is the crew which takes the least time to reach Hobart once its handicap is applied.

IRC took over from IMS, largely because the latter sought to become the perfect formula for wildly different yacht shapes and sizes. It took very technical, scientific approach. All of a yacht’s measurements were compiled to create a 3D model that could predict the boat’s speed in a range of anticipated wind and wave conditions using a Velocity Prediction Program.

It was a great improvement over the IOR handicap system which had dominated yacht racing for years and years. Whereas IMS based its speed forecasts on a view of the whole hull and rig, IOR measured a whole lot of different points on the boat, so designers began putting lots of little bumps and curves here and there, not because they made the boat safer or faster, sometimes quite the contrary, but because they reduced the rating.

Mainsails got smaller, while big, hard to manage headsails got even bigger. The best designers 'gamed' the rule. So in the 70’s, the top IOR boats were heavy displacement, fine bowed, very powerful to windward, but very prone to broaching downwind. They certainly had their heart stopping moments, but you would never call them exhilarating.

Then, later, as the rule evolved, designers like Bruce Farr swept the field with wedge shaped, fuller stern boats that many criticised as not particularly seaworthy.

IMS boats were cleaner, faster, more fun and less expensive. But over time, this quest for the perfect rule became ever more complex and technical, and designers found they could game the rule with slab sided, high freeboard, low stability yachts.

Geoff Ross was initially a great supporter of IMS, campaigning some of the best IMS racers in Australia under the name Yendys, but he now says that IMS proved a complete failure.

'It failed owners,' Ross says, 'Because it did not protect them from new boats.' An expensive, state of the art IMS boat could become superseded and uncompetitive within months as the next, latest IMS design rolled out of the yard.

By contrast, IRC is much simpler, and it tends to favour medium displacement boats and simple rigs. It also protects owners from new boats, Ross says. 'It preserves the competitiveness of existing boats and rewards new boats. Look at Loki,' he says, 'she is four years old now but she is still winning races.'

The same can be said for Love & War, the 39 year-old wooden boat that won the Rolex Sydney Hobart for the third time in 2006, and others like her.

Love & War, the 39 year-old wooden boat that won the Rolex Sydney Hobart for the third time in 2006. -  © Rolex-Daniel Forster   Click Here to view large photo

Moreover, a secrecy clause means that designers cannot game the IRC rule so easily. Only the RORC Rating Office knows the formula, which they are constantly amending in response to results and owner feedback. The RORC burghers guide designers and owners from the back room, issuing new guidelines every year, but there is no definitive, public formula that will allow a designer to guarantee the owner an absolute rating.

IRC acolytes consider this secrecy the strength of the system. There is as yet no clear idea of what an optimal IRC yacht might look like, and in recent years we have seen the rule produce some really exciting boats that are immense fun to sail, but safe and very forgiving. Whereas once even elite ocean racers plodded down to Hobart at nine knots, today 25 knot plus reaches are the order of the day on the top boats.

Some though, like Ed Psaltis, a former Hobart winner, do worry about what he calls the secret fudge factor 'that allows the powers that be to act like gods,' favouring a particular style of boat.

The IRC rule was originally introduced to give mum and dad cruiser racers a way to compete against the IMS Grand Prix boats. Psaltis, who’s super-fast and exciting skiff-like Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler is very much a Grand Prix racer, believes while the rule has spawned exciting bigger boats, like the TP52’s and last year’s race winner, Loki, a Reichel/Pugh 63; in the 38 to 45 foot range the rule favours what he calls 'a certain type of French built cruiser racer'.

Bruce Taylor, who’s latest Chutzpah is one of the most exciting boats in the fleet, worries that since the 38 to 45 foot range is the entry level for ocean racing, the next generation won’t leave their thrilling, edgy skiffs for what he sees as the stodgy boats voted most likely to win by the English rating office.

83, AFR Midnight Rambler, Sail No: 8338, Owner: Ed Psaltis, Design: Ker 40, LOA (m): 12.2, State: NSW -  © Rolex-Daniel Forster   Click Here to view large photo
Psaltis says that Bruce Farr is already designing a Beneteau 40 that beats the rule, the same way designers beat the IOR rule. 'Good designers can always beat any rule,' he surmises.

Critics and advocates of the prevailing system all agree, though, that there has to be a balance in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, and in ocean racing generally, between the club friendly cruiser racers and the flat out Grand Prix types.

The CYCA points to the wide range of yachts, from super maxis to 30 year old former IOR veterans like Love & War, Beneteau 40’s, to last year’s thoroughbred Loki, which have graced the podium in recent years as clear evidence that the IRC handicapping system is working well.

Both cruiser racer and elite Grand Prix crews are in with a winning chance in a race that somehow continues to inspire amateurs and professionals alike. A Loki can win, but so can a Maluka.

Globally a trans Atlantic war is developing between the English and the French, who love IRC, and the Americans, who are pushing for a sort of son of IMS, the ORCi, which is transparent and takes the best of IMS, but is not as technically complex.

Psaltis like ORCi because of its transparency, but Ross says what matters is not whether the rule is transparent or secret, but what results it has produced. 'It has produced quicker, better balanced boats and astonishingly good racing.'

That debate will no doubt provide hours of fun in club bars around Australia over the next few years, and this year a number of yachts will be competing in both IRC and ORCi categories. Who knows how the yachts will be rated in 2020?

However, for the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart, IRC rules.

Rolex Sydney Hobart website


by Jim Gale

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=104759

10:47 PM Sun 16 Dec 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

OTUSA AC45 Turbo workout images by pressure-drop.us ... [more]  

Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean – A fleet of 21 Swan yachts, comprising an array of different models from seven different countries and territories will contest an eagerly anticipated week of action in the Virgin Gorda archipelago, the British Virgin Islands tomorrow, Wednesday 4 March. ... [more]  

Photographer Tim Wright captured some of these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 and along the course at St Barths, Barbuda and Redonda. ... [more]  

Gill Commodore's Cup - Entries on the increase by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
The Gill Commodore's Cup consists of one day of racing as a stand alone event, immediately prior to the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta and is open to all boat categories taking part in the main event (excluding the Lottery Class). This year there is a record entry with over 70 yachts expected to be taking part. Several tight windward leeward races are planned for the fast performance yachts ... [more]  

After the Volvo Ocean Race finished on Saturday night, Sail-World.com's NZ editor, Richard Gladwell caught up with Ryan Houston from Team Alvimedica. He talks about wanting to sail on a Kiwi boat in the next race - how this race compares with the others in which he has sailed - how small gains seem to be paying well - the vexed issue of AIS on tactics, and more ... [more]  

After the Volvo Ocean Race finished on Saturday night, Sail-World.com's NZ editor, Richard Gladwell caught up with Dave Swete from Team Alvimedica. A product of the RNZYS Youth Program, Swete is on his second Volvo Ocean Race. He touches on the differences between the two programs, the impact that AIS is having on the racing and plenty more ... [more]  

Sail-World.com's New Zealand Editor caught up with Race Director, Jack Lloyd on the floor of the sail-loft in the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard. In this 15 minute interview, Lloyd gives his view of the progress made as a result of adopting the Volvo 65 One Design - with all boats having finished every leg (with one exception - Vestas Wind). ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Image gallery - Tour of the Boatyard by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com NZL
Yesterday Volvo Ocean Race threw open the barriers and let the media have an inside view of the Boatyard at the Viaduct Events Centre The area is open to the public (stay behind the safety barriers) where you can see the boats on the hard, and look inside the Events Centre which has been converted into a massive sail and rigging loft. ... [more]  

Artemis Racing took their development AC45 out on San Francisco Bay, yesterday. Videographer, John Navas was there to catch all the action on high resolution video. ... [more]  

The countdown to the 46th edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar has begun in the bay of Palma from 28th March to 4th April. With less than a month to go until the start of the event, the regatta has already around 700 teams (667) from 59 nations representing the five continents. ... [more]  

2015 RC44 Championship Tour - With less than a month to go, eleven teams are eagerly anticipating the season-opener set to take place in Malta's renowned capital of Valletta, the historic 'City of Knights', from 25-29 March. ... [more]  

The 2015 US Grand Slam Series will take place within the month of August, beginning a couple weeks earlier and in a different order than previous editions. The Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, Bayview Yacht Club, Chicago Match Race Center, and Oakcliff Sailing organizers are pleased to announce that Requests for Invitation are being accepted now and all venues anticipate high demand. ... [more]  

A beautiful sunny Miami welcomed Star sailors to the first day of the 88th Bacardi Cup. One race is scheduled for each day of the 6-day event as part of the Bacardi Miami Sailing Week (BMSW) presented by EFG Bank. With winds around 10 knots from the East, the racing area was set about 1 ¾ miles south of Dinner Key Channel. The course is set at 95 degrees with two-mile legs, which will test sailors ... [more]  

It’s been a month since the International Paralympic Committee publicized its decision to drop sailing from the slate of sports at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Since then ISAF has stepped up to lead the appeal for reinstatement. At US Sailing, we believe ISAF leadership is critical to our chances of overturning this decision, and we are pleased to see President Carlo Croce take this on himself ... [more]  

Top international photographer, Chris Cameron is working out of the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Auckland. ... [more]  

The first WWA Pro Card Qualifier presented by Malibu boats is set for March 22, 2015, hosted once again by Freedom Wake Park in Orlando, Florida. The WWA Pro Card events have been created to separate the top riders in the world and recognize them as elite. ... [more]  

NZ Rigging Supplied the Mast and Rigging package for Adrian Walters new Shaw 11 mtr 'Little Nico'. The mast is a High Modulus mast with internal locks on all halyards, internal mast jack, one piece Nomex cored box section boom, and composite rigging.cored box section boom, and composite rigging. ... [more]  

Barcelona World Race - As Cheminées Poujoulat climbed north out of the latitudes of the Roaring 40s and into a regime change on the east side of the South Atlantic high pressure system, leaders Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam are into relatively stable, quick downwind conditions which will allow them to make good miles north, ultimately to connect with the trade winds. ... [more]  

2015 Hobie 16 North American Championships September 20 to 25 at Pensacola Yacht Club. ... [more]  

Hobie Mid-Winter East - Ocean Springs Yacht Club April 10-12 2015. The regatta is open to all Hobie Cat classes ... [more]  

Choosing the northern route turned out to be a brilliant tactical decision. But not all decisions went so well. Because of one wrong gybe and changed weather patterns, Team Brunel lost its lead in less than a day. With only the Volvo Ocean Race tracker as a guide, it’s difficult for fans to understand how the Dutch team lost more than 80 nautical miles. Skipper Bouwe Bekking looks explains ... [more]  

RORC Caribbean 600 – Arguably the best fleet of offshore racing yachts that has ever gathered in the Caribbean, took part in the seventh edition of the event. 66 yachts started the 600 mile race around 11 Caribbean islands, with numerous world champions, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors taking part with passionate Corinthian amateurs, many of whom are members of the Royal Ocean Racing Cl ... [more]  

This summer’s ‘must have’ tickets for The America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth (ACWSUK) are officially available from Monday 2nd March. Fans and spectators are encouraged to book their place now to avoid disappointment with event organisers already receiving a large number of ticket and hospitality enquires. ... [more]  

SCYA's E.E. Manning Regatta 2015 – They had never sailed together until six months earlier when they stepped onto a boat that neither had ever sailed, but skipper Joseph Hou, 15, and crew Skylar Jacobsen, 14, squeezed out a remarkable victory Sunday in the Southern California Youth Yacht Racing Association's Shadden Series ... [more]  

Shawn Bennett of Tiburon, Calif. won the Long Beach Stop of the 2015 California Dreamin’ Series Sunday in this International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Grade three match racing regatta hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and raced on the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s fleet of Catalina 37s. ... [more]  

Sitting here in Antigua airport waiting for my flight back to London, life is good having just blasted across the Atlantic in just under nine and a half days on board the new Phaedo3 MOD 70, one of the fastest sailing boats 'in the world'... ... [more]  

In November of 1994 Yachting Magazine consultant Gary Jobson asked Peter Craig, 'how hard can it be? Just raise some flags and blow off some guns.' And so began Craig's involvement in what was then a 112 boat - single division regatta that would soon evolve into an iconic annual international keelboat event. Yachting Magazine founded Key West Race Week in 1987. ... [more]  

Serious Fun! That's what participants, sponsors and onlookers are expected to have during the 35th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta which will be held in St. Maarten during March 05 - 08, 2015. The Regatta is considered to be the biggest in the Caribbean and offers a great combination of challenging races and fantastic gatherings under the banner of 'Serious Fun'! ... [more]  

Barcelona World Race – After the limits of the southern oceans imposed by the combination of the weather systems and the safety barrier of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, the Atlantic is opening up for the top trio. ... [more]  

Images from Auckland of the media conference on Sunday and prizegivings for Leg 4 ... [more]  

At the media conference held the morning after the finish of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, Mapfre skipper Xabi Fernandez announced that regular skipper Iker Martinez will be back on board for the next leg and most of the remainder of the race. Fernandez had taken over the role, skippering Mapfre to a 4th place on Leg 3 and a win on Leg 4. ... [more]  

Miami Sailing Week (BMSW) presented by EFG Bank will kick off with 173 boats traveling to Coconut Grove to compete in the 88th Bacardi Cup ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 4 finishes at night after a tense day *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com NZL
The finish was more like that of a short 100nm race around the Hauraki Gulf. Instead, the first three boats to cross the finish line at the end of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race arrived mid-evening. ... [more]  

Farr 40 International Circuit - Plenty team hungry for more
Coast Guard continues search for San Diego sailor
Sonar Class has a new builder for Sonar
Rio officials probe source of fish die-off in Olympic waters
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - An island-wide effort
Volvo Ocean Race: Images ashore after Leg 4
Volvo Ocean Race: Images from the finish of Leg 4
Volvo Ocean Race-Brasileiro ajuda barco espanhol a vencer quarta etapa
RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show - a British tradition
Eight minutes between Podium players as Spanish win VOR leg 4
Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 4 - fleet arrives in Auckland and the winner is
Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 4 - the fleet approaches Auckland
Volvo Ocean Race - Less than 10 miles to Auckland finish
2015 RORC Caribbean 600 - Third time lucky for happy Hap
Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 4 Finish - Auckland - Live Video and Updates
Barcelona World Race - Neutrogena crosses Cape Horn with 40 knots wind
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - Natty Rico will close the final night
Barcelona World Race - At Cape Horn memories are made. and recalled
Big winds for SCYA Manning Regatta at ABY Club
Hutchinson and Roble honored at US Sailing’s Rolex Awards ceremony
Finn World Masters Championships 2015 - Pre registration open   
Registration for the 2015 Finn European Championship is live!   
RORC Caribbean 600, day 4 – Classic Focus and Four Figaro II teams   
Hutchinson, Roble honored in New York as Best of 2014   
Barcelona World Race - Pedestrian Pacific, Atlantic highway to home   
America's Cup: Artemis Racing lines up against Oracle Team USA - Video   
High Performance Yacht Design conference during Volvo OR stopover   
Volvo Ocean Race: Ryan Houston - How Alvimedica's chemistry works *Feature   
Volvo Ocean Race: Dave Swete - Alvimedica's race so far *Feature   
Volvo Ocean Race 2015 – No sleep until Auckland   
Etchells NA Midwinter East Series - Schoonmaker Cup preview   
RORC Caribbean 600 day 4 – Close competition – 43 yachts still racing   
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Alvimedica hopes to use Coastal Classic tricks *Feature   
AC45 Turbo Training - Oracle Team USA images by pressure-drop + Video   
America's Cup: Emirates Team New Zealand gears up on less money *Feature   
Volvo Ocean Race – The race tightens as New Zealand looms   
AWT Goya Pro Cabo Verde kicks off in style!   
Barcelona World Race - Two different worlds separated by Cape Horn   
America's Cup: Barker offered non-sailing role by Emirates team NZ   
2015 CYC Midwinters Race – Pictures by pressure-drop.us   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT