Cleanup on Aisle Five

Published on October 26th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The good news is there are two technical rating rules – IRC and ORC – that have broad international appeal, allowing keelboat teams to pursue glory beyond their shorelines. While the rules approach the rating problem differently, they both have strong support

But these rules are vying for the same audience, and are not always on great terms. Like now.

For a bit of background, there have been World Championships run since 1999 for yachts handicapped under the Offshore Racing Congress’ IMS and ORCi rating systems, but when IRC was sanctioned as an International Rating system by World Sailing in 2003, it wanted in on this world title action too.

As World Sailing is the sole entity to authorize world championships, it was agreed at the 2016 World Sailing Annual Conference that IRC and ORC would work together to score the 2018 World Championship in The Hague, Netherlands.

While the approach was not without flaws, the biennial plan would get another bite of the apple at the 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship in Newport, RI. But then the pandemic happened, the 2020 event was cancelled, with the next attempt to be 2022 in Italy. Onward, as they say.

However, somewhere in 2021 between January and October the train went off the tracks, with the ORC revealing that IRC had been dropped from the 2022 World Champs hosted by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), noting the two rules had been unable to find an agreement for scoring another combined ORC/IRC event.

Apparently, this came as a surprise to IRC which prompted IRC Board Chairman Michael Boyd to issue this statement on October 26, 2021:


The IRC Board, RORC and UNCL were shocked and disappointed to read the ORC/YCCS Notice of Race for an exclusive ORC World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy, in June 2022, thereby cancelling the previously agreed joint IRC/ORC event. This was a totally unexpected unilateral decision at a time when we thought negotiations were continuing to finalise a combined scoring system.

It appears that ORC has no wish to honor our shared commitment to hold joint World Championships made at the World Sailing Annual Meeting in Barcelona in 2016. We hope that this is not true and we continue to be open to constructive dialogue.

This action has damaged the foundation of trust and respect which is essential for progress. If we cannot re-engage, we must consider our options to exercise our right to hold separate IRC World Championships to preserve the rights of sailors using our rating system to compete internationally at the highest level.


So far, no word from World Sailing. Standing by…

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