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Focus returns to single rating rule

Published on May 24th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
It is not uncommon for handicap racing events to allow entry under two rating rules, with results and trophies for both. But when one boat can win one category but not the other, it puts into question – for me – what the hell we are doing. Trying to please everyone?

Rating rules have enough trouble with credibility as is, and showcasing how certain boats do better under one rule than the other does not feel like a path toward promoting overall participation.

I get how this is a method for introducing a new rule, but I say proceed with due diligence in the background, and once comfortable, pull off the Band-Aid and make the switch. More rules, more categories, and more trophies feels like youth soccer, not adult sailing.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, host of the internationally acclaimed Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, has a history of offering two rules and have now found the fault in doing so. Here’s their statement:

Over the years, IRC and ORCi rating rules have diverged. The complexity and workload for owners and crews in maintaining adherence to both is significant.

IRC, as the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) primary rating rule, has good compliance. ORCi, as the Club’s secondary rating rule, is witnessing increasing compliance and data errors. This undermines the integrity of the sport of sailing, races and the Club.

The reputational risk of continuing with two rating rules and having further compliance issues is too great. Action is required to protect competitors, the Club, and its races.


The CYCA is moving to a single rating rule:
• It’s too complicated and time consuming for owners to stay on top of two rules.
• The only way to mitigate future compliance issues and the associated negative press is to move to a single rule.

The one rule has to be IRC:
• As the CYCA’s current blue water fleet is optimized for IRC, (used for the Tattersall Cup, awarded to the Sydney Hobart overall winner), IRC has to be the rule that it consolidates with at this point in time

Consolidating to a single rating rule simplifies the administration, cost, and compliance burden on competitors.

It improves the spectator experience with clarity on winners. And it significantly reduces the risk of reputational damage for competitors, the Club and its races.

This move in no way diminishes the importance of the Ocean Racing Congress and ORCi as it will continue to provide one of the two ways in which a boat can demonstrate that it satisfies the stability requirements of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. Importantly, the CYCA will continue to uphold the highest of safety standards in all of its races.

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