On 19 September, the PropIRC, French IRC owners’ association and the UNCL (Union Nationale pour la Course au Large) convened a forum and debate on the current situation and the future of the IRC rating system, with a panel including Philippe Sérénon, moderator, Jean-Philippe Cau, President of PropIRC, Jean Sans (IRC Technical Committee for UNCL), Bernard Nivelt and Daniel Andrieu (naval architects), Gérard Quénot and Jean-Jacques Godet (IRC owners). The discussion ended with observations and provided food for thought to enable a positive development of the IRC Rule.

The panel, as well as architects, ship builders, measurers and racers who attended the forum all agreed that the IRC Rule had become difficult to understand, considering its growing complexity and the increase in international regulations which interfere with national rules. By introducing new measures such as the Endorsed certificate to guarantee equity, the IRC Rule has become less flexible and so complex that it is perceived as an elitist rating rule. Its international scope covering some forty countries mean that implementing changes is time consuming, although rule users do recognise that the IRC Rule safeguards the value of their boats, that it is fair and suitable for high-level racing, which is different to it being elitist. In addition to this observation, sporting events have not changed to meet competitors expectations, with archaic registration procedures, course formats which evolve too slowly, long waits on the water between races and a proliferation of classes. These factors hinder the convivial nature of events and reduce the understanding of our sport.

Moreover, social and economic factors tend to place the environment of the offshore racing in an uncomfortable situation.

In the light of these issues, the IRC Rule must win back owners who have moved on to other classes and attract new ones, of all ages. It must modernise the certificate delivery procedures, in particular working with boat builders. It must also be made easier in practice, by easing certain rules, such as the rule of the crew number. The success of two-handed racing is an evidence of the necessity of this approach. It must be simplified to promote the fun to be had when sailing, even when racing. It should make battling it out on the water easier! These ideas are the first major benefit to emerge from the forum, where speakers’ and the audience’s passion for IRC proved intact, as it appeared in other topics that came up in the debate: is there an IRC boat? Why do the French excel in the Fastnet Race and struggle in the Commodores’ cup? Food for thought for future forums.

The IRC Forum report will be available in French from 25 September on http://www.uncl.com

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