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First annual ORR Conference caps dramatic year of growth

by Offshore Racing Association 24 Oct 2018 06:56 PDT
Annual ORR Conference caps dramatic year of growth © Offshore Racing Association

To build on the remarkable success of the ORR-Ez rating rule in 2018, the Offshore Racing Association hosted a one-day, end-of season conference for ORR-Ez regional and national rule administrators. Over the course of the year, the number of boats racing with ORR-Ez certificates jumped from 120 to more than 400.

When coupled with 725 ORR certificates for boats racing in major events nationwide—e.g. Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac, the Newport Bermuda Race, Pacific Cup, Marion to Bermuda, TransPac, Marblehead to Halifax Race, Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race — the family of ORR rules, which also includes a multihull VPP rule, cemented its status as America's premier rating rules based on velocity prediction programs. In 2018, approximately 90 percent of the boats in America who chose a VPP rule chose an ORR rule.

The conference format focused on opportunities to improve education and customer service during this period of rapid growth. Local ORR-Ez representatives reported on successes and challenges, and exchanged ideas with the national ORR VPP tech team on topics ranging from race-committee best practices and analysis of race results, to improving online processing of certificate applications. Fresh insights came from organizations recently adopting ORR-Ez, including the Massachusetts Bay Racing Association and the Chesapeake Bay Racer Cruiser Association, which together registered 275 boats for ORR-Ez racing.

Highlights of conference decisions included:

  • The option for competitors to declare crew weight or use a default number
  • Allowance of a second certificate for those wishing to race short-handed
  • Creation of a tool for race committees to identify lighter and heavier boats when determining class make-up
The conference also highlighted the roles of local ORR-Ez representatives versus national. Besides providing encouragement and insight to individual boat owners, local reps often work closely with race committees learning to use ORR "tool boxes" to make choices regarding course configurations and wind speed, thereby selecting fairer ratings for a given racecourse on a given day.

National ORR team members' primary mission, in addition to focusing on process, is to support organizing authorities in finding ways to gain more entries. An example from the conference was providing the local option to allow competitors to switch to a non-spinnaker rating before a windy race that otherwise might keep them at the dock.

Continued growth prospects strong for 2019

In their forecast for next season, ORR reps reported advanced discussions with fleets in most regions of the country considering adoption of the ORR-Ez approach in 2019, which could result in a doubling of ORR-Ez certificates. In most regions, the ORR-Ez rule is being used for weekly series racing and weekend regattas on both windward-leeward and point-to-point courses. ORR-Ez was also used for a long-distance cruiser/racer race, the Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race, and for some sections of the Bayview Mackinac fleet. (See for a list of races that chose ORR Rules.)

ORR-Ez utilizes a velocity prediction program and includes a small performance-based overlay that can be used in reviewing ratings of unusual boats, both fast and slow. The ORR, ORR-Ez, and ORR-Mh (multihull) rules are based on proprietary velocity prediction programming, developed, owned, maintained, and managed by the Offshore Racing Association.

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