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51st edition of the Offshore Racing Congress concluded over the weekend

by Offshore Racing Congress 10 Nov 2020 22:22 PST 31 October - 7 November 2020
No ORC championship events were held this year, but progress was still made in many areas of the rating system to be implemented in 2021 © Sander van der Borch

The 51st edition of the Offshore Racing Congress concluded over the weekend with a review of the 2020 season's activities along with new policies and innovations lying ahead in 2021. There are 56 members of the ORC Congress that represent 35 countries, World Sailing and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) as a founding member, and they meet yearly to approve the budget, policies and rules recommended by several Committees reporting to the Congress in this meeting.

Held online this year, the Management Committee reported the organization had a 25% drop in certificates issued due to the effects of the pandemic, but a significant reduction in operating costs kept the organization financially on a solid footing according to Treasurer Patrick Lindquist (FIN), and the levy rates will remain unchanged for 2021.

While there were no ORC international championship events this year, the ORC Staff nonetheless remained busy throughout the year with numerous technical projects and upgrades to the system. Fifteen submissions were received from six countries this year to suggest improvements to the ORC rules, while other activity was reported as part of ongoing upgrades and research.

For example, Chairman Andy Claughton of the International Technical Committee (ITC) reported his group of 12 designers, programmers and technology experts made significant progress this year in several areas, including setting the framework for the VPP system to accept not only a complete range of foil types for monohulls, but also multihull geometries so that a 2021 roll out is expected of the new ORC Multihull Rule (ORCmh) on an experimental basis. And while progress was made in other technical areas of research in the VPP, without the usual schedule of events among monohulls and Superyachts there were no opportunities to test these changes, so the VPP is expected to have very few changes in ratings for next year.

Another innovation is a new design for ORC International and ORC Club certificates where the pages are reorganized to be more readable and relevant to the various user groups: owners, sailors, sailmakers, and race organizers as well as measurers. For example, a summary of simple rating options are no longer shown on the first page but will be shown along with several other options on a dedicated page available to rating offices in each country to show what options will be relevant for their fleets. This will include, for example, the ratings the boat has for popular races that have pre-designed scoring models.

The advent of ORC Double Handed (ORC DH) certificates this year was extremely successful, with close to 2400 - a third of this year's ORC fleet - issued ORC DH certificates. Next year Non-Spinnaker certificates will also be offered, so there are now three possible certificate types for boats to race and still enjoy the full range scoring options: regular, DH and now Non-Spinnaker.

A review of ORC championship events in 2021 was made, with the 2021 ORC World Championship in Tallinn, Estonia in early August already open for entry and showing a strong turnout, the ORC European Championship expected to be held in Capri, Italy in May, and the ORC Sportboat Europeans postponed from this year in Istanbul to be in the same location next year in late August. There are active bids for the 2022 ORC Europeans under consideration, and a location selected for the 2022 Worlds to be announced soon.

Despite the pandemic, large new fleets were added to ORC this year in Finland and Estonia, and next year there will be a significant increase in ORC certificates in the USA with the addition of the Chicago and Bayview Mackinac races.

Minutes to all committee meetings are available online at www.orc.org/meetings, and the list of changes to the Rules and the Congress minutes will also be available soon on the same web page.

Other news is that ORC will have the same leadership for the next four years - Bruno Finzi (ITA) as Chairman and Jose Frers (ARG) as Deputy Chairman, but Wolfgang Schaefer (GER) surprised many by resigning his position as Deputy Chairman after a quarter century of service to the ORC. Said Schaefer "These 26 years were a great time with lows and highs but not without success and improvement for ORC. Now would be a great time to step back and open the door for younger blood. Life is like a race course: you shouldn't miss the right moment for tacking or gybing. Therefore I would like to step back as Deputy Chair now and ask the Congress for appointing Ecky von der Mosel as my successor."

Von der Mosel has been Chairman of the ORC Race Management Committee, has accepted this new position, and brings with him decades of experience in race and event management from his base at Kiel Yacht Club.

Also, two new Management Committee members were added: Thomas Nilsson (NOR) and Akis Tsalikis (GRE).

Overall, Chairman Finzi was pleased with the status and progress made to the system in this unusual year.

"It was a disappointment not to share face-to-face time with all our Committee and Congress members," he said, "and we hope this will be back to normal at this time next year. Yet we are also thankful for all the hard work made by our staff and Committee members to still produce great improvements to our system and welcome new users in many countries, even with the pandemic situation. We look forward to returning next year to having more races and regattas throughout the world and have our users enjoy fair and fun racing with the use of ORC tools."

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