stepping up

stepping up

Bitching about handicaps and rating systems has unfortunately become a major part of handicap racing, but most are content to continue bitching as participation continues to drop. BYC member and perennial handicap race winner Frank Kern (J/120 ‘Carinthia’) explains what a group of owners are doing to buck the trend with the new ORROA (ORR Owners Association) racing series.

At the end of last year, after talking to a number of fellow owners, the frustration with the many different rules in place was becoming apparent, with some owners so unhappy with the rules they were stuck with that they began skipping races.  PHRF is nearly universal, but it’s application by local officials can lead to some strange results, and often it is hard for committees to fairly rate new or one-off designs.  Other international rules unfairly penalize sportboats and many 10-20 year old offshore designs while sportboats and many 10-20 year old offshore designs have ratings that are carries the inevitable drawbacks that brings, while  Our brainstorming session came up with an idea to give sailors a reason to participate in more races – create a series for them to compete under a rating rule that they consider fair.

Our idea for an alternatively rated series is not a new one, and series racing has been proven to lead to better entry lists – the rebirth of SORC is a good example of that.  So we formed the Offshore Racing Rule Owners Association (ORROA) to promote and encourage offshore racing under the Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) by providing a velocity prediction, research-based handicapping system. Many of the inaccuracies that were inherent in the old IMS rule have been corrected in the current rule, and by providing a fair and accurate handicapping system, the organization will encourage participation from a broad group of boat owners, inviting them to become active participants in this new association and championship racing series.

ORROA will be providing information on the rule, measurement and procedures to its members and prospective members, and through its website www.orroa.org and the ORROA Facebook page, will chronicle ORR race results and other pertinent information concerning the rule. It will be a regular resource for boat owners and help them understand the rule, obtain ORR certificates and establish geographic regatta series in different areas of the country. As updates are made to the rule, the association will keep the owners up to date on changes made.

Using the 2010 Great Lakes series as a model, ORROA will help establish similar championships in other parts of the country for 2011. The GL ORROA series will require no entry fee – all that owners need to do is go to the site and register their boat.  We’ll take results from the Chicago Race to Mackinac, Bayview Mackinac, Queen’s Cup, International 100 (Port Huron), and Annual Little Traverse Regatta, and for the events that don’t use ORR, we’ll apply an ORR rule overlay to the event results to compute ORR finishing positions. It will not be necessary to sail all the regattas to qualify.

There has been a lot of controversy over the different rules, and maybe that’s just how it always will be.  But we’d like to try something different, and by encouraging the usage of ORR in a positive manner, we hope to persuade owners that have been turned off by recent ratings developments to get on the water again.