is it finally time?

How long have so many of us had the same exact sentiment as this?

It’s way past time to move on from PHRF for those of us that are relatively serious about racing.  As much as we spend on boats, racing sails, gear, etc. we should not be relying on an outdated and relatively arbitrary rating system like PHRF.  It’s time to move up to a Measurement-based VPP rating system.  I have been doing some research on the different rating systems and this is what I think:

ORC is the answer because:

– ratings are objective, based purely on measurements and VPP science, and there are no appeals for ratings (unlike PHRF and ORR-EZ).  ORR-EZ allows owner declared values just like PHRF.

– ratings are calculated for different courses and wind speeds, making results closer and more accurate (unlike PHRF)

– rules, certificates and data are completely open source for full transparency (unlike ORR, IRC or PHRF).  ORR claims they keep their system proprietary in order to discourage attempts to design boats “to the rule”.  The reality is the rich guys will hire the smart guys and will figure out how to “game the system”, meanwhile the rest of us will be left wondering why we traded one closed system for another.  With ORC, I don’t have to hire rating rules specialist to tell me how to make my boat go as fast as possible.  I can go to ORC Sailor Services and look at other similar boat configurations/ratings and/or run test certs to see what the optimum configuration is for my boat.  In my opinion, this levels the playing field for me because I don’t have unlimited resources like some of the other boats we race against.

– the ORC Sailor Services website has over 125K measurement records in its database which are readily available for review and comparison: free login at www.orc.org/sailorservices (not available from either ORR, IRC or PHRF)

– ORC Sailor Services allows you to run test certs (for around $18) so you can determine any difference in speed/rating for different SPL, sprits, sails, crew weight, etc. (not available from PHRF.  ORR and IRC offer this but at a higher cost).  Good luck trying to get your local PHRF committee to tell you what your ratings hit will be while you consider changing your Sprit length, for example.

– ORC is recognized as an international rating system by World Sailing, issues >10,000 certificates yearly in 40 countries and is thus well-funded, completely open, and invests heavily each year in research to improve its VPP (not true for ORR, IRC or PHRF).  ORC is twice as big as IRC and 10-15 times bigger than ORR (size matters) and is run by FULL-TIME Professional staff!  In other words, ORC is here to stay and that can’t be said definitively for the other systems.  My guess is “in the end there will only be one” and my money is on ORC.

– ORC Club certificates are issued by US Sailing and are inexpensive( $100).

-ORC International certificates (ORCi) are significantly cheaper than ORR and IRC.  I have a First 44.7 and an ORCi cert will cost me less than $1k.  A full ORR cert will cost over $3k.  That’s ridiculous.

There is now interest in trying the ORC system in San Diego.   The first step is getting at least 10 boats measured and certified, followed by an analysis of historical race result data to show the end-users how the system performs better than PHRF in local regattas and races.  The second step is working with OAs to create an ORC class or two.  Once skippers see how impartial, transparent, and user-friendly the system is, they will not look back.

ORC has agreed to provide 2 US Sailing certified measurers to conduct measurements in San Diego over a weekend sometime in late October or November (dates TBD).

For those interested, the cost to participate is as follows:

– ORC Club certificate with partial measurements (eg, sails, freeboard, deck and rig): $50 ($300+ value) plus $100 to US Sailing for the Club cert.

– ORCi Cert with the above measurements plus an inclination for stability for $15/ft (normally $20/ft) plus $8/ft to US Sailing for the cert.  Measurements are sufficient for a full ORR cert if doing TRanspac or another ORR event.

– all participants will receive a complementary ORC Speed Guide of polars and Target Speed output for W/L racing for their boat ($90 value)

Please let me know if you are interested in having your boat measured during this event.  Once we’ve got 10 boats we’ll figure out which weekend to host this event. Jump in and comment.