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ORA Ratings to score Doublehanded Race in San Diego

by Offshore Racing Rule 20 Feb 13:35 PST
2020 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Annapolis - Day 1 © Will Keyworth

The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta, an early-spring weekend fixture on the San Diego Yacht Club calendar, will use VPP-based ratings from the Offshore Racing Association for a new Saturday-only mid-distance race.

With publication of its notice of race for the North Sails Doublehanded Distance Race at the NOOD on March 20th, the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta officially added a new event within the larger event for monohull boats 24 to 48 feet long racing with a crew of two. To score the fleet of diverse boats, the organizers chose the Offshore Racing Association to provide its ORA-1 ratings, which are based on its proprietary velocity prediction program (VPP).

The ORA is the right partner to supply ratings, according to San Diego Yacht Club race manager Jeff Johnson, because of its fairer ratings and its established connection with racing boats in the region. Single-number ratings don't handicap as fairly as VPP ratings, which can be applied based on observed wind direction and course configuration, says Johnson. In addition, many boats in the area already have certificates based on the ORA's well-regarded ORR and ORR-Ez ratings—many of San Diego YC's races use ORR ratings including the Islands Race, California Offshore Race Week and the Puerto Vallarta Race.

San Diego YC will use simplified "ORA-1" ratings in this race, which the ORA will provide at no charge for boats with ORR or ORR-Ez ratings. A third pool of local boats may also choose to race, ranging in style from comfortable cruising boats whose owners are interested in a short-handed challenge, to one-designs such as Hobie 33 or J/120 whose owners can't find a large enough number to have their own class start at the NOOD. Boats such as these can apply for and receive a certificate for a modest fee, which will vary depending on the availability of the design's offset files. (For more on ORA-1 ratings, contact Jay Tyson at ORA.)

Johnson plans to de-emphasize the traditional windward-leeward format and include additional reaching and running legs, setting a course length of 10 to 30 miles depending on wind conditions. ORA certificates allow him to use ratings that match his chosen course configuration as well as the average wind strength of the day.

Because there aren't many permanent marks on San Diego Bay, Johnson may introduce the use of virtual marks—GPS waypoints—and provide boats with YB Trackers that will add interest to post-race analysis and prove each boat rounded all marks.

According to NOOD Regatta event director, Jennifer Davies, the new doublehanded short-distance race will be offered at all five 2021 NOOD events organized by Sailing World magazine—San Diego, St. Petersburg, Annapolis, Chicago, and Marblehead.

The doublehanded format had already been given a boost by its selection as a new event in the 2024 Olympics and NOOD Regatta sponsor North Sails has been promoting doublehanded racing for more than a year. In 2020, the format gained more momentum because it's so COVID friendly. (See event registration.)

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