International Yacht Forum 2010 - The future in Offshore Yacht Racing

The offshore racing scene has changed a lot during the last few years, so there was a need for an update on design, technical development, rating rules and race formats. So this weekend the German Offshore Owners Association ( together with Pantaenius, North Sails, hanseboot Boatshow and SGS arranged a free forum on the future in Offshore Yacht Racing.

Isle of Wight based yacht designer, John Corby, is a colourful character. Louay Habib joined him in a Cowes hostelry to find out a bit more about the former Royal Marine and father of two.

Where did you first get into sailing and with who?

My family always had boats.   According to my parents, my first word was Boat.


John Corby and long time friend, Susie Hobday, Bear of Britain party 09.

Did you enjoy any other sports or past times in your youth, where you any good?

Snooker. We had a full size table at home. I was pretty good for a ten year old but Iʼd be rubbish now.

Who were your sporting heroes when you were growing up? They don't have to be sailing ones.

A sporting hero was Hugh Laurie, believe it or not. He stroked The First Eight at school when I was a new boy.

What was the first memorable competition that you won? 

First major win (for me anyway!) was the Flying Fifteen class in 1984 Cowes Week.

A phrase I use too much is?


I am very good at? 

Good at talking

I am very bad at?

Bad at listening

Did you make a new year's's it going?

Yes I did make a news years resolution but my friends told me to abandon the idea immediately.

What is your favourite food/drink and where would you most like to enjoy them?

I never say no to either; smoked salmon or Chateau Neuf (obviously not at the same time!) enjoyed in the company of good friends.

If I wasn't a yacht designer I would want to be a?

Loved to have been a professional snooker player.

Who do you admire from the non-sailing world and why?

Steve Jobs (Apple) for obvious reasons.   Paul McCartney after seeing him on the X-Factor.

I wish people would take more notice of...?

My son, because my daughter seems to get most of the attention.

Name a favourite book band and film.

Books: I dont read many these days but in my youth I adored Sir Peter Johnsonʼs: Guiness book of sailing facts and feats and Bob Fisher's book of the first ever Whitbread Round the World race.

Music:  Supertramp were my faves as a teenager but now I find myself listening to Girls Aloud and Lady Gaga.

Film:  Anything with Michael Caine

What is your ideal pleasure sailing scenario? (Where, boat, crew, weather etc)

My most enjoyable regattas last year were; racing IRC in Torbay regatta where the race management was truly excellent and racing my 6 meter in Cowes Classic Week.  Iʼve done plenty of racing with supposedly pro-crews in the past but Corinthian racing with mates is really what itʼs all about.

If you could transform yourself into an animal, what would it be and why?

I'd be a Meerkat and get into show business.

For more information on Corby Yachts and the MiRC handicap results calculator for iPhone and iPod Touch.

by Louay Habib

The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) was established in 1974 and since then the club has developed into probably the most popular sailing venue in the Gulf. Today the club has about 400 members and it has a family appeal with a thriving dinghy section, a beach for kids and an excellent bar and restaurant.


Dubai Offshore Sailing Club

For the past 15 years the highlight of the DOSC is the 350 mile offshore race to Muscat, Oman. The race is run under the IRC rating system, there is a huge variety of boats entered and the rule gives them all fair racing. The course takes the fleet through the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf and ‘round the bend' at the Strait of Hormuz, into the Indian Ocean. The course has a very complex weather situation; sea breeze, land breeze, tidal effects and eventually ocean swell, once the fleet race out into the Indian Ocean. However the air temperature remains warm both day and night and there is a bounty of sea life. The shoreline provides an extra-ordinary back-drop, ranging from the sky scrapers of Dubai to the 3000 metre high mountains of Oman.

This year's Dubai Muscat race was over-shadowed by the seizure of race entrant, Kingdom of Bahrain, by the Iranian authorities. I am sure the entire sailing community was glad to see them released, however the incident is extremely rare and will not put off the locals from sailing and shouldn't deter visitors from the same. It was a shame that the Dubai Muscat Race was lost in the politician's sand storm, the race management was first class and all of the boats were fitted with Xtra-Link trackers giving family, friends and race fans regular race updates. The club put a lot of effort into this year's race and were rewarded with a record entry of 25 yachts, they hope to eclipse that number next year.

The overall winner on corrected time was Claus Landmark's, Mills 43, Team Premier.


Claus Landmark - Skipper Team Premier receiving the Sohar Dhow for IRC Overall in Dubai Muscat Race 2009

The Mills designed IRC weapon is built in Dubai by Premier Composites and the Norwegian crew race an identical boat in Scandinavia, they may well feature in next year's RORC Rolex Commodores' Cup. "I would like to thank to Dubai Offshore Sailing Club for holding such a great event and giving us the excuse to leave Norway in winter." Confirmed Claus Landmark. Team Premier sailed a great race to beat Hannes Waimer's modified TP52 into second place.

Video interview with Claus Landmark and the crew:

The Dubai Muscat Race finished at the Bander Al Rowdha Marina, south of the Omani capital, Muscat. This is one of Oman's foremost marinas and backed by the government, they are encouraging yacht racing  in Oman. This year the marina held their first offshore race from Muscat to Khasab in northern Oman. The 220 mile race was a great success and entrance to the race were encouraged by a generous prize fund of $50,000 offered by the Bank of Beirut. The overall winner under IRC was Team Uqab, from the Royal Navy of Oman, also winning the new Chairman's Cup.


Team Uqab - Royal Navy of Oman 

Oman is aiming to increase the profile of sailing in the Sultanate through events such as the Muscat to Khasab Race. Saleem Zawawi, Chairman of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha said, "We have had great feedback from attendees and participants of the event, all of whom said how professionally organised and, most importantly, what a great deal of fun this regatta was.  Sailing used to be a major hobby for many Omanis and expatriates and the aim of the regatta has been to put some of that enthusiasm and excitement back into the sport and who knows, encourage a new generation of national sailing champions!"

The bottom line is that sailing has been part of Arab culture for thousands of years, the countries of this region are embracing the sport of yacht racing, to encourage the local population to take part and also to attract tourism to the region. There is no doubt yacht racing is on the up in the Middle East and IRC is proving to be the rule of choice.

All images: Louay Habib


by Louay Habib

malta_georges_91023The Royal Malta Yacht Club was one of the first yacht clubs to embrace IRC, and Commodore Georges Bonello Dupuis has been the driving force behind the club's rise in membership and international status. The 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race was one of the most exciting in the history of the race, but behind the scenes George and his dedicated team of volunteers were not only running the event but getting to grips with moving their Clubhouse the week before.

Georges took half an hour a way from his busy schedule to talk to Louay Habib about the Club and what it is trying to achieve.

"About ten years ago, at the beginning of my term as Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club, we made a decision to race under IRC. The Royal Malta Yacht Club has a long history with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is 41 years testimony of that. Personally, I believe IRC is a good rule because it enables people to go racing without making huge modifications to their boats, and it is a safe and simple rule. I am also very much in favour of the IRC Congress; it keeps us informed and we were represented at the recent meeting in Paris by Godwin Zammit. The yacht club has a voice and IRC will listen to us.

We have a full calendar of events at the RMYC, ranging from round the cans racing to round Malta and Gozo races. Some of the most popular racing in Malta is double and triple handed.

Besides the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race, the most popular race is the Malta to Marzamemi race in Sicily. The race often attracts over 60 boats and we have people joining the yacht club just to do this race. It is a 60 mile race but the large flotilla gives a feeling of security, especially to people racing for the first time. It's popular because people enjoy it; a fun weekend away. The race starts on the Friday of the first May Bank holiday and the following day is a layday where we organize a lunch for up to 300 people, and after spending a day or two in Sicily we do a return race to Malta. We also have a 120 mile race between Malta and Siracusa which is very popular and we have our first race, next year, to the brand new marina at Ragusa, the southern most tip of Sicily.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club has about 470 members but many of them are not actively racing, we get about 50 boats for most of the events, except the Rolex Middle Sea Race where the numbers are swelled by foreign visitors. We would love to have more boats racing and that is one of the main reasons we moved the clubhouse next to Ta'Xbiex (pronounced tadge-beach). It is a major marina and rather than wait for them to come to us, we have gone to them. I hope the club appeals to these boat owners socially and once they find out what the club is all about that they will start racing.

The new clubhouse is very modern and we have excellent facilities including a conference room, extensive bar and restaurant and outside terrace, and we are going to have a 750 metre terrace, two pontoons for 65 boats, a gym, locker room and showers. We hope that all this will attract more people to the Royal Malta Yacht Club!

photomike_sMike Urwin, RORC Rating office, Technical Director explains to Louay Habib some of the changes proposed to IRC, and the overall objective of the IRC rule.

LH:      What is IRC's underlying philosophy?

MU: We want IRC to be a permissive rule. IRC Rules say it is for ballasted monohull keel boats with not more than two masts; those are the only fundamental restrictions we want to apply. So, if someone comes along with something novel, like water ballast or canting keels or asymmetric spinnakers, or bowsprits... we want to embrace that but until we get to understand what the new idea is all about, we try as hard as possible to be cautious in the way we rate the boats. If we don't know what the effect will be on the performance of the boat, we tend to over compensate. Do we always get that right? No. Do we then do something about it? Yes.

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Header images by:

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