Mackinac races switch to ORC System

Published on November 1st, 2020

In a significant shift for handicap racing, Bayview Yacht Club and the Mackinac Race Authority will adopt the ORC Rating System in 2021 to score the 97th consecutive Bayview Mackinac Race which starts on July 24. This decision is in conjunction with Chicago Yacht Club who is making the same change for its 112th Race to Mackinac, which starts on July 16 and 17, 2021.

Both races had previously used the ORR system which was founded by Chicago Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, and the Transpacific Yacht Club, first used in 2006 for their races. By utilizing the ORC system, which is the largest measurement-based system in the world, these Great Lakes distance races join Charleston Race Week and other US events to switch to the ORC system.

“The adoption of the ORC Rating System will offer competitors a handicap rule with full transparency that is more widely used in premier regattas like the Bayview Mackinac Race throughout North America and Worldwide,” explained C.J. Ruffing, 2021 Bayview Mackinac Race Chairman. “The expectation is that competitors will have a better user experience, access to more resources and a race with a rating rule that is transparent and easy to understand at the same, or in many cases lower, costs.”

Louis Sandoval, Commodore of Chicago YC added, “As an organizing authority, we always strive to have boats compete using a rating rule that is predictable, sustainable, transparent, and flexible resulting in accurate ratings to support fair racing. We will be working with the ORC technical staff along with the US Sailing Offshore office to facilitate this transition.”

The ORC Rating System uses science and technology to develop a boat’s handicap to allow fair racing between dissimilar boats. By entering specific measurements into computer software ORC measures how a racing crew can reach their boat’s theoretical performance potential in various wind conditions. This Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) allows the race organizers to correct the elapsed time of competing boats to score them on the same level.

“We believe that ORC has become the dominant player and can bring significant technical resources to the race and its competitors,” said Chris Clark, last year’s Bayview Mackinac Race Chairman. “Many of us that race outside the Great Lakes have already raced using the ORC Rule and have experienced the value ORC brings. From the competitor’s standpoint there will be little change other than a potential reduction in cost.”

Nathan Titcomb, Offshore Director for US Sailing, notes how US Sailing is well positioned to support the sailors and organizers in the transition of rating rules with the use of the Universal Certificate System (UCS). “The UCS allows the existing measurement data to be transmitted to the ORC rating rule in the already familiar portal for owners,” said Titcomb. “US Sailing is pleased to work with both the Bayview and Chicago Mackinac fleets as they navigate the adoption of the ORC rule for their races and look forward to successful events in 2021 and beyond.”

The Bayview Yacht Club, Mackinac Race Authority and Chicago Yacht Club are all committed to ensuring that all sailors interested in competing have ample opportunities to learn about the new rating rule, with more information to be posted online:

Bayview Mackinac Race:
Chicago Mackinac Race website:
ORC rating systems:

Source: Scuttlebutt, ORC

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