How Experts Work to Make Sailing Fair for Everyone - First 2024 ORC ITC meeting in Winchester, UK

How Experts Work to Make Sailing Fair for Everyone - First 2024 ORC ITC meeting in Winchester, UK

In Winchester, UK, a group of the world’s leading sailing experts gathered on April 6-7 for the first 2024 ORC International Technical Committee (ITC) meeting. Their goal? To ensure that yacht racing is as fair and exciting as possible, whether for any monohull sailing boat, luxurious superyachts, or speedy multihulls.

The ORC’s International Technical Committee (ITC) provides the technical expertise for the operation and research needed to support the following rating rule systems in the ORC portfolio:

  • ORCi and ORC Club for conventional monohull racing yachts, where >10,000 certificates per year are issued in nearly 40 countries;
  • The ORC Superyacht rule (ORCsy) – about 100 certificates/year
  • The ORC Multihull Rule (ORCmh) – growing weekly
  • ORCj for the J Class Association

The focus of the ITC's meeting’s discussion agenda was on several topics:

  • Ensuring consistent force models across all these VPP systems. If the basic physics of the VPP’s is consistent then it could now be possible to expand the applicable use of ORC ratings so that, for example, Corinthian entries in mixed fleets of monohulls and multihulls could compete and be scored in one race.
  • Development of the ORC Performance Database. When high-fidelity performance data is available from a well-sailed yacht with a cooperative owner and navigator, the ORC has, with the assistance of KND, analyzed the data to create observed performance polars. These can then be compared to ORC VPP predictions to assess how well the predictions match reality. We now have over 20 yachts in the database, and the size of the database and our analysis tools are now able to usefully shape VPP development.
  • Aerodynamic coefficients for Headsails set Flying. These have recently been developed so that each sail in the boat's sail inventory is assessed separately. The same approach has been built into the ORCmh VPP for all headsails. This has led to a discussion about whether the same should be done for spinnakers, particularly if the boat has only one.
    • The premise of the VPP is that we take the largest measured sail and as the wind strengthens that sail is FLATTENED and REEFED to reduce heel. This then implies that to match the predicted polars the owner should have a selection of smaller sails to set as the wind gets stronger. This assumption is believed to be OK for headsails, but not for spinnakers. Spinnakers cannot be FLATTENED to any great degree, they just start to flap!  
    • Work is underway to try and fix this anomaly.
  • The development of Weather Routing Scoring (WRS) continues to cause concern in some quarters, yet a few recent races have successfully used the system for both day races and offshore events. The ORC now has a dedicated team for managing WRS for event organisers who want to use this system during 2024, either as the actual scoring system or as shadow scoring of their normal approach.
    • Currently the routing is done with ORC WScorer and Expedition Software using forecasts that are agreed with the race organisers before the race. It is essential that the scoring method is correctly described in the NoR and SI’s, and some suggested wording for this is now available.
    • Looking forward it would be desirable to have a machine agnostic system, and ORC is working on a web-based implementation that will use the Predict Wind routing engine.
    • ITC sees WRS as essential to support long-distance handicap racing for fleets of diverse boat types, particularly for the multihulls. The rating difference across the wind range for a multihull fleet is much more pronounced than for a cruiser/racer monohull fleet. Therefore having handicaps that are sensitive to wind speed and course mix prevents one boat from running away with the race if the conditions match her favored sector in performance.

The next ITC meeting will be in the summer, with exact dates to be determined.