As part of the World Sailing Annual Conference, the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) has today concluded 6 days of meetings of its Committees and Congress to report on a successful 2017 as well as looking forward to 2018. The Congress has approved new rules and initiatives for next year that will help the ORC system further improve its rating services to offshore sailors in 45 countries around the world.
The numbers of boats worldwide issued ORC Club, ORC International or ORC SuperYacht certificates in the first 10 months of 2017 rose to over 9000, a new record for the ORC system, with certificates once again reaching over 10,000. The countries with the greatest growth in ORC Club certificates were Bulgaria, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Saint Maarten, and in ORCi certificates were Netherlands, Portugal and the USA.
"This shows our system remains both popular for our current users and also attractive to new users," said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC. "Our greatest growth is in new nations, where the ease of use, flexibility and fairness of our system is attractive to them in establishing new fleets."
On the technical side, the ORC Velocity Prediction Program (VPP), the core engine of the ORC system, has been upgraded for 2018 by the International Technical Committee, chaired by Alessandro Nazareth. With research work done by top designers such as Jason Ker, who worked this year with CFD tools on the ORC aero model, coupled with an analysis of performance data from 6 boat types, next year's ratings for the ORC fleet will shift slightly in order to be more accurate and therefore have the potential to produce even closer racing in the next season.
Images from CFD aero study conducted by Jason Ker
The ORC SuperYacht system, developed by a dedicated team within the ORC Staff, supported nine events in 2017 as well as made continued improvements and revisions to the system to deal with this extremely diverse range of yachts.
In other technical aspects of measurement and scoring, 2018 will see better and more streamlined use of 3d hull scanning for offset files and the development of a Measurement Manual to ensure consistency in measurement methods. This becomes important since many measurers new to the ORC system will be trained in the coming months in the UK, France, Ireland and Belgium in anticipation of demand for ORCi certificates to be used in the Offshore World Championship in The Hague in July 2018.
A new Race Management Guidebook will also be introduced in early 2018 to fulfill the need to help train local Race Committees on which of many options in the ORC system is the best for use in their fleets. The general ORC Guidebook will also be refreshed for 2018, as will the ORC website, and if there is demonstrated need a new more mobile friendly site will be developed as well. And the new ORC Scorer software, available for free download from the ORC website, will be documented with a more complete instruction manual for first-time users.
The ORC's Sailor Services system, an online portal to measurement and rating data and an important feature of the transparency of the ORC system, had nearly 600 users running test certificates and nearly 500 requests for Target Speed and Speed Guides thusfar in 2017. The system is planned to expand to add features where the rating and measurement data can be displayed in comparisons to create, for example, online scratch sheets.
And in the Offshore Classes and Events Committee, approval was made for the 2018 ORC European Sportboat Championship to be held in Portopiccolo, Italy over 29 May - 3 June. Bids were received and supported for the 2019 Worlds and European events, with Congress approving Oxelosund, Sweden as the site of the 2019 ORC European Championship. There are four bids for the 2019 Worlds site which will be considered for final selection soon.
And a proposal was presented by New York Yacht Club for the 2020 Worlds event, with broad support by the Committee and the Congress in anticipation of final approval in one year.
To better meet the growing demand of users in the ORC system, the technical staff has been reorganized and expanded. After 21 years as ORC Chief Measurer, Nicola Sironi is taking on various
special projects for ORC while Zoran Grubisa is now assuming this role. And Alberto Pindozzi based in Trieste, Italy has joined the ORC team to assist in a variety of support roles, ranging from measurement to handling certification requests.
"This was another great year for ORC," said Finzi, "where we have strong demand for our products and services and the company is strong in resources to meet this demand. Our relationship with World Sailing is also strong, with Stan Honey of the Offshore and Oceanic Committee consulting and supporting us on policies, and President Kim Andersen expressing appreciation for our role in the offshore community. We look forward to continuing to provide this valuable assistance to help serve the needs of inshore and offshore sailors everywhere."