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Anyone who seeks to dismiss the continuing concern in Australia over the IRC rating for Celestial in the recent Sydney-Hobart race as just dockside gossip or a ‘hatchet job’ might first consider the facts.

Before the December 16 rating, the previous certificate boat weight was 6,948 kilos. The bulb was 3,602 kilos. After the bulb was ‘shaved’ its stated new weight reduced to 3,363 –239 kilos lighter. But the boat’s weight only came down 26 kilos to 6,922. 

There were also reductions in sail area. The SPA (Spinnaker area) reduced from 270.08 to 264.01. The HAS (Headsail area) went from 65.46 to 63.59.

The combined effect was that Celestial’s IRC handicap improved from 1.399 to 1.390. For the boat’s 2022 Sydney-Hobart, the corrected time difference between those two handicaps was 25 minutes. In the world of TP52 racing that gap is huge. 

It translates to a distance of at least five miles in average conditions. 

It may well be that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the apparent disappearance of those 213 kilos in all-up boat weight. Maybe some of the data was miss-read, miss-written or miss-transcribed as it passed from the measurer to the owner, to the national authority, to the RORC rating office, and then back again for the new handicap number to be finally lodged with CYCA race management. 

There are so many steps in that process that it would be impossible to tell the difference between an honest error and deliberate deception. Speculation is endless.

But what is certain is that this whole situation is regrettable, and awkward for all concerned. The other TPs must be especially unhappy. So until someone comes forward to account for the anomaly or the boat is re-measured, there are likely to be persistent reservations about Celestial’s current rating, and therefore her overall win.