Forty delegates from 15 countries descended upon Cowes, Isle of Wight, the home of yachting in the UK, for the annual Congress of the Spinlock International Rating Certificate (IRC) Owners’ Association. The weekend was hosted by the RORC Rating Office at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse and the Royal Yacht Squadron, with representatives travelling from all over the world including Australia, the USA, Europe, Japan and SE Asia. Discussions varied from technical aspects of the IRC Rule, which is jointly owned by RORC in the UK and UNCL in France, to race management, measurement, and certificate administration.

Technical Developments for 2017
Simplifying the rating of aft rigging
As racing yacht design becomes more complex and varied, the ethos of IRC is to keep the Rule as simple as possible, protect the existing fleet and try as much as possible to control costs. With this in mind one notable change for 2017 will be a development in the treatment of aft rigging. In recent years it has become apparent that the established definitions for backstays, running backstays and checkstays do not suit all types of modern rigging arrangements. For 2017 IRC will not distinguish between these different types but will count the total number of aft rigging stays, which will simplify the application process for owners.

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From 2017 there will be no need to distinguish between twin backstays and running backstays.
Photo RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones

Addressing undesirable trends
A second change for 2017 reflects the recent trend of moving lead from the bulb into the fin. The IRC Technical Committee does not consider this trend to be healthy for the sport, so in future will be asking for a declaration of the amount of lead in the keel fin for certain types of keel. Members of Congress agreed with both these changes which will come into force on January 1st 2017.

After the Congress delegates, family and friends enjoyed a dinner on the starting platform of the Royal Yacht Squadron where they were entertained by historian David Hughes with some fascinating stories about the iconic castle at the entrance to Cowes. The following morning a number of delegates took the opportunity to watch the new and exciting Fast 40+ fleet racing amongst 130 other race boats in the Hamble Winter Series.

More details of the above mentioned technical changes, and the IRC 2017 Rule text and Definitions, can be found online here.