100 is a magic number, and for ORCi World Championships a customary one in the last few years. There were 119 entries in the 2011 ORCi World Championship in Cres, 124 at the 2012 Audi ORCi World Championship in Helsinki, and here in early April it is a number that is approaching fast for organizers of the ORC World Championship 2013, held over June 21-29 in Ancona, Italy.
While many sailing events around the world have struggled to keep up their participation levels, this year event organizers in Ancona have the opposite problem: they have put a limit on entries, the first time ever for an ORC championship event.
'Our host venue at Marina Dorica is a fantastic facility,' says racing manager Paolo Massarini. 'But with more than 130 boats from 12 countries we could not guarantee space for everyone, which includes proper accommodation for the boats but also the crews and their families and friends. Comune di Ancona and the Regione Marche have been very helpful to anticipate a large crowd of over 1000 people coming to this event, so we have to be realistic in making sure there is space for everyone.'
A novel solution to the housing problem has been made in the form of a floating hotel: as an official sponsor of the ORC World Championship 2013, Adria Ferries has offered the event use of its ship AF Michela, that will be positioned in Ancona harbor close to the event venue and within walking distance of the city center. AF Michela offers accommodation for some 500 people, and guests will be offered breakfast and the option of packed lunch for the day. Prices start as low as €32/night + VAT.
Another reason to limit entries is that a race fleet that is too large can also compromise the quality of racing within the format allowed by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Since only two World Championship titles can be awarded according to ISAF rules, the large fleet can be split into only two separate regattas to determine a winner for each. At up to 70 entries in either class, this will still be quite a large group for Principal Race Officer Alfredo Ricci and his team to manage to race in a way that gives a fair chance to every participant. Formats such as multiple course areas are being considered to handle the large fleet.
'Fairness is extremely important at the World Championship,' says ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi. 'There are many boats coming from not only the Mediterranean region but from all over the world, with most making a tremendous investment in their preparation to compete. So it is important that we make sure that all aspects of the competition are fair and transparent: the measurements, the ratings, the race courses and the scoring must be absolutely clear to all who participate.'
So far the event has attracted the interest of some high-level talent, with many past and present World and National ORC Champion teams on the entry list, guided by some high-profile tactical talent. For example, the reigning two-time ORC Class A World Champion Alberto Rossi will have a new Enfant Terrible to race, a Reichel/Pugh TP52 to replace his modified Farr 40, and in Ancona there will be three other TP52's to challenge him, in addition to many other fast designs.
And the reigning ORC Class B World Champion, Vincenzo de Blasio, will have his Cossutti-designed NM38 Scugnizza in Ancona to defend his title, which he earned in Helsinki after a hard-fought battle that came down to the final leg of the final race of the series.
'It is looking to be yet another very competitive regatta ahead of us,' says Finzi. 'The eventual winners will have very much earned their new titles.'
ORC Worlds website
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1:58 PM Fri 5 Apr 2013GMT
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