Frustrating & fantastic
New IRC format to attract smaller boats
“A TERRIBLE RACE” was the verdict from some of the first boats to arrive at the Russell finish after this year’s PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic.
Not because they didn’t get fantastic conditions for the race. But because the first two hours were so good, they thought they’d shave a little time off the race record.
Frank Racing’s skipper Simon Hull said that they were on track for a record time for the first third of the race. But over time the strength went out of the wind before it turned unexpectedly north, and very light, on the approach to Cape Brett.
“That’s sailing,” he said, of the result which remained his sixth Coastal Classic win in seven years. The boat had a sensational upwind leg between Cape Brett and Russell, reaching speeds of well over 25 knots, to finish at 1724hrs.
Taeping finished at 1907hrs in second place, while Slime, a 13.2m Malcolm Tennant-designed catamaran was the third boat to cross the finish line, at 1918hrs. Taeping first took line honours in the 2002 race, and this year’s time was within four minutes of her finish time 14 years ago, with the same skipper.
The first of the big monohulls was Harry Dodson’s Transpac 52, Mayhem, which finished at 2026hrs. Viento II crossed the line just two minutes later after a very close race, and Awen, the Open 60, at 2041hrs.
The 141 entries included one all-female crew, seven solo entrants, and five boats with just two crew.
A CHANGE TO the format of the 2017 IRC Nationals at Bay of Islands Sailing Week will make it more appealing for smaller keelboats.
Bay of Islands Sailing Week will host the IRC Nationals again in 2017, enabling boats with endorsed IRC certificates to compete for the prestigious Nationals trophies alongside the usual Bay Week honours.
But with the difficulties of organising races in which very dissimilar boats compete against each other, regatta organisers have successfully negotiated a format change allowing Nationals competitors to race in three separate divisions.
IRC Classes 1, 2 and 3 will align with the existing A, B and C divisions of the Bay Week regatta, so a 30-foot cruiser-racer won’t have to sail the same race as a TP52.
The standard six boat minimum fleet size has also been reduced to just three boats in each class for the 2017 Nationals, in the hope that a successful event will generate more local and overseas interest in IRC racing in New Zealand.
The IRC handicap system is an international rating rule that allows keelboats of all shapes and sizes to join in, without preference to ‘big budget’ boats. As a rating rule, rather than a performance handicap like PHRF, IRC is based solely on a boat’s physical characteristics.
Handicaps aren’t altered from race to race, so a boat’s handicap cannot be improved by racing badly. It’s also an unpublished rule, which prevents designers from taking advantage of it when designing new boats, and means boats of all ages and types can win races under IRC. To find out more and to enter the 2017 IRC Nationals and Bay of Islands Sailing Week, visit www.bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz.