says RORC Rating Office Technical Manager, Jenny Howells

With many if not the majority of the most prestigious yacht races and regattas around the world using the IRC rating system, it is no surprise that it is also the choice of state-of-the-art yachts such as the Maxi 72s, TP 52s, Wally Yachts and 100 foot Maxis including the latest Ragamuffin 100 from Australia and Comanche built in Maine. Holding an IRC rating allows them to compete for top honours in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Fastnet and Middle Sea Races, and regattas run under the auspices of the International Maxi Association including their World Championship.

The highest currently rated boat under IRC is the Reichel/Pugh Maxi Wild Oats XI at 1.974 closely followed by Comanche at 1.958 and much has been written about the battle between these two in the 2014 Sydney Hobart both for line honours and corrected time, and it is very exciting to see boats like this racing under IRC.  

The upcoming RORC Caribbean 600 boasts an entry of over 60 boats and is a good example of the diversity of boats enjoying racing under IRC. It illustrates how IRC allows designs like the Volvo Open 70 (Monster Project & Maserati, 2008) to continue racing competitively, and gives a new lease of life to older racers - Volvo 60s (Ambersail & Spirit of Adventure, 2001) and classics (Cuilaun, 1970 McGruer 55; Black Watch 1938 S&S 68 yawl). Meanwhile superyachts such as Athos (56m) and Adela (46m) add a different dimension and glamour to the fleet. However, reflecting IRC’s main constituents, it is production boats between 37 and 50 feet that form the core 50% of the entrants.

rc600 2014 start s

George David's Rambler 90 on the IRC Class 0 start line of last year's
RORC Caribbean 600
Photo Tim Wright/www.photoaction.com

There’s something for everyone within IRC

The exciting, glamorous boats are of course important in IRC, not least because so many of us aspire to compete in the high profile glamorous regattas in the Med and the Caribbean. However, it is also important to remind the general racing fraternity that it is the core fleet that has kept the rating rule afloat for over thirty years. Looking at the last couple of years, the lowest rated boat is a 1964 Kroes en Zonen Classic Blue Eagle of Tonbridge at 0.740 while the average IRC rating for the worldwide IRC fleet is 1.035. Far from the dizzy lengths of superyachts, the average boat length is 11.5 metres, or around 38 feet. With the recession of the last few years, there are many more sailors racing smaller boats and having just as much fun as those who are fortunate to own and race the glamour boats. IRC rating encourages a huge variety of sizes and types of boats to compete in events from local club racing to international offshore events, allowing everyone to enjoy mixed fleet racing no matter what their budget.

For more information on IRC rating see http://ircrating.org and http://rorcrating.com. The RORC Caribbean 600 starts on Monday 23rd February, follow the race at http://caribbean600.rorc.org/