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Bayview Mackinac Race to Use ORR Rating System

Published on March 3rd, 2016

Bayview Yacht Club’s Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, set to start on July 16, will be using ORR (Offshore Racing Rule) for the first time.

“That’s our biggest change this year, that Division I boats sailing the longer Cove Island course (259 nautical miles) will require an ORR rating,” said Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Chairman Kyle Burleson. “We believe this will provide a better product for the bigger, faster boats looking for something more technological than sailing under PHRF.”

Smaller boats are likely to choose the option of sailing the shorter Shore course of 204 nautical miles under PHRF; if they choose the longer course, they must have an ORR rating.

bayview mac course

Overview and close-up of the Cove Island and Shore Course for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.

The Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which starts at the southern end of Lake Huron, and the Chicago Mac, which starts from southern Lake Michigan, are two of the most reputable annual distance races in the U.S. Always run back-to-back, they alternate “going first” and both run south to north to finish at Mackinac Island, which lies near the only waterway that connects these two Great Lakes.

“Whichever of the races goes second usually gets the surge in entries, basically because the boats are halfway to the second start once they’ve done the first race and get to Mackinac Island,” said Burleson. “We’re hoping, however, that the ORR pull will be strong enough to bring more Chicago boats to join us for our start this year; if we can match last year’s numbers (237 boats) that would be incredible.”

The 2016 Chicago Mac race, which starts July 23, uses ORR. Three races – Chicago Mac, Newport Bermuda, and Transpac – formed an alliance in 2004 to develop the rating rule which relies on a secret, VPP-based formula.

According to Detroit’s Frank Kern, who has been on the ORR Committee, explained that ORR is adjusted to the conditions for each race. “The Transpac is mainly downwind, so there’s an adjustment for that,” he said. “Chicago takes two numbers – one more downwind and then an all-purpose number, and the Race Committee declares which one they will use the Friday night before Saturday’s start, according to the weather forecast. The Bayview Mackinac has more reaching and upwind tendencies than Chicago, so that will surely be considered.”

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