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Rating optimization = boat castration?

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

To win a race, rating optimisation is still necessary. Unfortunately this leads to a kind of castration. Things that are fun must be smaller, especially the main and gennaker. We try to find these concessions to the ORC, which can be easily updated without buying a new boat.

A smaller gennaker can easily be replaced, but a main has an impact on the overall balance of the boat. A larger mainsail makes the bot a weather wheel.

Our ORC suggests reducing the foot length of the main. So we have to set the mast back 100-150mm. This means that the shrouds and jib lead tracks must also move. Also the superstructures must be inside. Also the interior. And the deckshouse will have a new shape. That means the whole trim of the boat changes.

None of this increased the speed, only the rating changed. But it produces an enormous amount of work. The new mainsail is smaller, but more difficult to produce. These high aspect sails are more difficult to trim and due to the higher forces in the leech more expensive to produce.

New ORC optimized mainsail (red). The idea behind a rating rule is enabling yachts to race against each other by attributing a rating based on corrected time. A racer will aim to have the lowest possible handicap and the fastest boat. IRC, ORC, PHRF and ORR are the major rating rules which take a variety of measurements and characteristics of each boat to develop a single number or set of numbers, across various conditions and angles, allowing race committees to equalize performance on the race course.

Rating optimization is - unfortunately - a necessary task if you want to win races

We are working on IRC, too, but this will make our hungry, elegant tiger a cosy, clumsy pussycat.

IRC is a measurement system which is co-managed by the RORC in Great Britain and UNCL in France. A common conception about IRC is that it is not transparent. The calculation method is secret in order to prevent designers from exploiting potential loopholes in the rules, but this doesn´t work. To get indications, you can to compare different boats. You can buy the IRC certificates of the good performers and compare those certificates to your own. Collect all all the information in a spreadsheet, the differences can show where performance-gaps could be found. Designers, who do this kind of work more often, have a better database on which they can find the gaps. If you consider that one trial certificate is around 120€, it could become a costly procedure.

Some ideas that seem to work in IRC:

- shorter mast

- adding weight in the boat

- small rudder

- steel fin (instead of carbon)

- steel bulb (instead of lead)

- no bulb, thicker keel Nothing of this will lead to a better boat.

We believe: Speed is still your friend in any rating game - especially if you train sailing and trimming. You don't want to sail a slow boat, you want just to win races. It's terrible to slow down a ship and not knowing whether it will be of any use next season because they have closed the gap. So far we have not made the boat slower, just optimised it. As speed junkies we have so far resisted this. But for IRC we will probably have to offer an iron keel and a glass version with more weight. For ORC we probably offer smaller sails as option. Then everybody can choose ... More information here:

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