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 (http://www.ger-oo.org/) together with Pantaenius, North Sails, hanseboot Boatshow and SGS arranged a free forum on the future in Offshore Yacht Racing.
The first edition of the International Yacht Forum was held in Hamburg with over 220 participants from Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, UK, Estonia, USA, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands.
In the panel on yacht design there was presentations from Simon Rogers, John Corby, Mark Mills and Torsten Conradi from Judel/Vrolik& Co. And in the discussions afterwards, Michael Castania (ORM), Dobbs Davies (ORC/Seahorse), Rob Weiland (TP 52 Class Manager) Andrew McIrvine (Commodore of RORC) and many others presented their view on "The Future in Offshore Yacht Racing".
The designers talked about design philosophy and to the right balance between different tools, ranging from tank tests, CFD and VPPs to real life feedback from the sailors. The discussion on IRC vs ORCi was inevitable, but the panel was pretty clear that IRC was the only viable alternative right now. But there are some signs that the rules are converging which would allow more chance for agreement and forward progress. There were also some good presentations on keels, composite rigging and appendages.
Longer summary of the panel discussions: http://www.blur.se/2010/02/13/thefuture-of-offshore-yacht-racing/
Besides the official agenda, there were many opportunities to discuss the all new racing series, the hanseboot IRC Baltic Open (http://www.baltic-irc.org/) with races all over Northern Europe to encourage international sailing. Many thought that this was the the "first time since IOR" that club racers from many countries would meet for serious offshore racing.
Quotes of the day:
Andrew McIrvine, Commodore, Royal Ocean Racing Club
I was delighted to attend the International Yacht Racing Forum in Hamburg on Saturday. I knew from the line up of yacht designers, sail and mast-makers, and other experts, that we would have a fascinating and informative day. The size of the audience, with representatives from all round the Baltic and beyond, was very encouraging for the future of international offshore racing in the region. There was clearly a huge will to break down present disagreements and take a new Baltic series forwards. From the Royal Ocean Racing Club we will do all we can to support this initiative.
Having had the pleasure of sailing in the Baltic and experiencing first hand the dilemmas that the sailors there faced with the many rules available to them, it was very refreshing to have been at the Forum in Hamburg. The sailors and owners from many of the countries that border the sea were all learning from designers and constructors the value of one rule and also how accepted the IRC rule was worldwide. I think at last with open discussion between all the rule authorities they are well on the way to achieving their goal of having a common rule again.
That was an extremely positive meeting, well run, with a large turnout. Perhaps its the sort of thing that should happen more often and in other countries as it is valuable as a two way conduit: not only do the panel get to share information but owners get to articulate their desires. I came away excited about the prospects for the return of activity to the big boat sector in the Baltic and look forward to helping more there however I can.
I think it was a great day, with very competent people, and we all got some inspiration back home with us, I think. So much talk about rules, but in the end we all just want a rule for everybody, and I think we chose the right horse for the Baltic IRC Circuit, and ended up with the best possibility to make the Circuit a future international succes. Lets get rid of all that policy, and conflict of interest, and hope the different countries will listen to the sailors a little bit more in the future, as many of the prominent guys in the panel said again and again.