Today's annual meeting of the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) marks 50 years since this organization started as the first international body to organize and develop a system to fairly handicap offshore racing yachts.
Spurred by the possibility of an offshore discipline in the Olympic Games, International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), predecessor to World Sailing, urged the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) to devise a unified international rating system for offshore sailing. After several meetings starting in 1967, the two devised the new International Offshore Rule (IOR) to begin use in the 1969 season.
In November of that year a constitution was approved to govern the new Offshore Racing Council (ORC) as a democratic body formed to develop and manage this new rule system. The IOR went on to be used for the next three decades, with thousands of boats competing in local and international events throughout the world.
As reported at today's Congress, the system has more sophisticated modern tools to fairly handicap offshore-capable yachts but is still immensely popular all over the world, with over 10,000 certificates issued to boats from 43 countries, making it the largest measurement-based system in the world. ORC can rate everything from Sportboats to Superyachts, and announced for 2020 will also offer a new standard ORC DH (Double Handed) certificate for those who want to challenge themselves in this growing sector of the sport.
The ORCsy rule for Superyachts has also made significant progress, offering even more scoring options in 2020 to further refine competitive racing among these magnificent yachts.
And finally the ORC Multihull rule (ORCmh) has also made progress in its complex development and is expected to have its first certificates issued for offshore multihulls in 2020.
It is perhaps appropriate that in this 50th year since its formation, the ORC has also been working with the other International-recognized rating system - RORC's IRC rule - to plan the upcoming 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship being held in Newport USA at the New York Yacht Club. At the Annual Meeting it was reported there is excellent technical cooperation between the two rule systems to create common measurement standards, and there is confidence and encouragement for further close cooperation in the future.
Bid proposals for future ORC championship events remains strong, and approved for the 2021 ORC World Championship is the Kalev Yacht Club in Talinn, Estonia.
Image: ORC's International Technical Committee is developing methods to have the monohull VPP fairly rate offshore boats with complex modern foil types
Technical developments for the ORC system include improvements to the Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) to accommodate new features such as immersed foils that are appearing with more frequency on offshore yachts.
"This organization has withstood many technical and political challenges over 50 years," said ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi. "Yet we are healthier than ever, thanks to the hard work by our dedicated committee members, the staff, and an improved relationship with World Sailing. All have kept this organization efficient and relevant to the changing trends of the sport to keep the racing fair, fun and competitive."
In particular, we look forward to working with World Sailing and the MNA's who are interested in learning more about the performance and handicapping of boats who are raced in Double Handed trim so to help promote the new Olympic medal discipline."
Minutes of the ORC Committee meetings are available at www.orc.org/meetings
Image above: Close Class B racing in the 2018 ORC/IRC Worlds - Newport in 2020 will have the same - photo Sander van der Borch