The second half of the year is when thoughts turn to the following sailing season and possible changes to rating rules, both the maths behind the ratings and the written rules. Do you actively take part in the direction of your chosen rating system, or do you feel that it is beyond your control?

Int Conf Rating 1906 unframed

This photograph of the International Conference on the Rating Rule in January 1906 hangs on the wall of the RORC Rating Office.

For many, the phrase 'rating committee' conjures up a vision of a fusty group of individuals sitting around a table deciding on the future of their rating or handicap rule, without any reference to the users on the water. In the case of Spinlock IRC, however, that vision could not be further from the truth, as RORC Technical Manager Jenny Howells explains:

"IRC listens to the owners through a simple structure that starts with being able to contact a local IRC representative or measurer throughout the year. They then report to the national IRC owners' group, which in turn conveys agreed proposals to the international IRC Congress in October, to which representatives of all IRC countries are invited."

For example, in Great Britain the IRC committee members' contact details are listed on the RORC Rating Office website. Anyone involved in IRC rating in GBR is free to contact them with issues they would like raised at their meeting, held annually in September, and the Chairman of the GBR IRC Committee then represents owners at IRC Congress.

As the formulae behind IRC ratings are unpublished, only the RORC/UNCL IRC Technical Committee has access to the finer points of the rating calculation and makes decisions on future changes. However, the general direction of IRC ratings is open to discussion at national and international levels. A certain amount of bias in individual views on ratings is of course inevitable, but through members of the IRC Congress the Technical Committee has the advantage of hearing from around the world and its variety of sailing venues and conditions.

Help influence the future of IRC

If you feel strongly about an aspect of the IRC rules, there is an easy way to get your voice heard. You might think that restrictions on furling headsails are unfair or feel that crew numbers should be managed differently. Do you find parts of the rule text ambiguous? Why not have a chat with your local IRC representative or measurer; or your IRC Rule Authority if that is more appropriate. If others have made the same comments or the suggestion is upheld by your national owners' group, IRC Congress could be voting in a rule change at their meeting in October based on your chat in the club bar with the local measurer.

To find out who represents you locally, contact your IRC Rule Authority (if you are in Great Britain see


JH/RORC 10 Sept 2013

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Header images by:

John Crawley (CAN IRC)  
Jinno (c/o JPN IRC)
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