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IRC rating responds to racing practices with rule changes for 2024

by RORC Rating Office 2 Nov 2023 06:23 PDT
IRC fleet © RORC / Paul Wyeth

Following the international IRC annual Congress meeting in October, the 2024 IRC rule text is now published on the IRC website and includes changes that reflect IRC's desire to listen to what sailors want, and respond to changing trends not only in technical development but also racing practices.

Sails produce the driving force for any racing boat and as such are always at the forefront of design development and the subject of discussions within the IRC Technical Committee and IRC Congress.

This year is no exception, and a number of rule changes relate to the rating and setting of sails. As already well-publicised from 2024 the total number of headsails carried will be rated, excluding up to two OSR safety sails, to reflect the speed and flexibility advantages gained from carrying multiple headsails (rule 21.7.1).

IRC Notice 2023-01 has recently been updated with further information to help answer owners' and sail designers' questions and this can be found on the IRC website. At the same time, the minimum half-width ratio for IRC-defined flying headsails has been reduced from 62.5% to 60% to open up the design options for this useful sail.

The IRC Technical Committee has also taken the opportunity to simplify the rules surrounding single furling headsails, without removing the limitations on eligibility which are necessary to avoid abuse of this rule (21.8); and regarding the setting of headsails, in particular spinnaker or genoa staysails, IRC now clarifies where a headsail may be tacked (rule 21.3).

In response to requests from event organisers and measurers, for Endorsed IRC certificates any sails certified (measured) after 31st December 2023 will require a measurement sticker or stamp showing the measured data. Sail stamps serve as a visual confirmation that a sail has been properly measured and complies with the rating certificate, and aid equipment inspection at events when checking sails.

Since the introduction and enthusiastic reception of the secondary IRC certificate this year, the IRC rule now clarifies that a valid certificate must be declared before the rating deadline, and helps race organisers and owners understand that the secondary certificate must be declared to be used (rules 8.2 and 8.2.1).

IRC has intentionally never attempted to define fixtures, interior equipment or onboard systems, to avoid such items being designed to meet a minimum definition. However, an addition to the rule now requires onboard systems and equipment to be fully functional (rule 17.2). There is also now explicit reminder that moving sails or equipment with the intention of improving performance, commonly known as 'stacking', is prohibited; however the rule also allows a race organiser to permit moving sails or equipment, for example for classes that permit this and are racing in an IRC class (rule 22.3.1).

The IRC Technical Committee are keen to increase transparency relating to rated inputs and are currently developing a method of publishing the IRC certificate page 2 for every boat with a current rating, to help owners and competitors to easily see the rated configuration.

The 2024 IRC rule applies from 1st January 2024, except in countries with June-May validity where the rule will apply from 1st June 2024.

2024 IRC Rule text and more information about rule changes:
Full IRC Congress 2023 Minutes and other associated documents:

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