The 48th meeting of the Offshore Racing Congress was held along with the Annual Conference of World Sailing in Barcelona, and capped yet another successful year for the organization. The number of boats using ORC International, ORC Club or ORC Superyacht certificates will once again show significant growth in 2016 from previous years, two of three ORC championships reached record numbers of participants and countries, and three new countries have joined the ORC family to issue certificates in 45 countries around the world.
To date the number of boats that race using the ORC rating system was 9108 yachts, and the number of certificates issued in the system was 10,095 worldwide, an increase over last year at the same time, with projected year-end figures to show growth of nearly 3% over last year.
This year two of three ORC championship events set new attendance records. The ORC World Championship hosted by the Royal Danish YC in Copenhagen attracted 131 teams from 14 countries from 5 continents, the ORC European Championship hosted by the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki in Porto Carras, Greece drew a record 73 entries from 12 countries, and the ORC Sportboat European Championship held in Chioggia, Italy also set a record for this event with 40 entries from 6 nations.
The demand for hosting future ORC championship events remains strong, with bid proposals and expressions of interest received from prospective hosts located both in Europe and the USA for as far in advance as 2020. Next year the 2017 ORC World Championship will be organized by a consortium of clubs to be held in Trieste, Italy over 30 June – 8 July, the 2017 ORC European Championship will be hosted by the Pomeranian Sailing Federation and held in Gdansk, Poland over 23-29 July, and the 2017 ORC European Sportboat Championship will be held at Lauda Yacht Club in Riga, Latvia in August.
Growth is seen in use of ORC systems in new regions – such as the US, Caribbean and South Africa – also within established regions for regional races and championships in the Baltic, Mediterranean, and South American regions, with 17 nations within these regions organizing ORC National Championship events in 2016. Some high-profile classes used ORC ratings for the 2016 season, including 84 entries in the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, and next year there will be 100+ entries using the ORC system in the X-Yacht Gold Cup in Denmark. ORC is now the only handicap system used in Key West Race Week, one of the highest profile events in the US.
In technical developments, Alessandro Nazareth, Chairman of the International Technical Committee, reported on research work ongoing for improvements to the aero- and hydrodynamic models in the ORC VPP, as well as recommendations made to the ORC Committees on matters arising from the 34 Submissions made to the Congress. Highlights of these include:
- New formulation for the added resistance in waves
- New flying headsails coefficients
- Revision of Hull windage in heeled conditions
- Adoption for overlapping headsails with battens of the same coefficients of non-overlapping headsails
- New wording about flying Headsails
- New wording about Mainsail head point
- Performance Line Scoring option removal
- New table on sail limitations based on CDL
- Clarification about sheerline and bulwarks
The ITC’s improvements to the 2017 VPP indicated relatively small changes to the 2017 ratings for the over 1000 designs in the ORC database, with 99% being less than 1% of the GPH rating, indicating relative stability in the rating system. A beta version of the 2017 VPP will be distributed to Rating Offices for their review and possible updates for the final version are planned to be ready by the end of the year, together with the 2017 rules and a summary of the changes made from 2016.
“The Congress is extremely pleased with the progress made in 2016 to reach more sailors to have more fair racing,” said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC. “Our events are extremely popular, the racing is very close, and our principles of transparency and accessibility seem to be embraced by more and more cultures around the world. We are also pleased with the hard work made by the ITC in improving the VPP that forms the basis of our system, and that the improvements for next year will only increase the fairness and competiveness of the system across the broad range of boats we serve, from Sportboats to Superyachts.”