Sails : Sails 29 December January 2015
rolexsydneyhobartyachtrace2014 HANDICAPPING 072 The oldest yacht in the fleet built more than a decade before the race started 70 years ago will battle maxis made of space-age composite fibres and built over 80 years across the technology divide. So, you might ask, how can there ever be a fair race between such diverse sail craft? Since its inception in 1945, the focus of the Rolex Sydney Hobart has always been on achieving a level playing field for the fleet by using a rating system. Over the past 69 years, the rating system has changed with names like RORC, IOR, IMS, IRC and now ORCi, but the end result is a time correction calculation, or handicap. For the 70th race, the overall winner will again be decided by the IRC rating system, one of the most widely used rating systems in modern yachting. THE REAL PRIZE The race for line honours is easy to understand – the first boat to cross the finish line in Hobart is declared the line honours winner and walks away with the J H Illingworth trophy, a Rolex timepiece, a big share of the adulation and, some would say, more than their fair share of the media attention. However, very few yachts in this year’s fleet stand any chance of beating the super maxis to Hobart, so the line honours contest will be left for the big boats to dragrace while the vast majority will compete for the overall win – the real prize as far as most yachties are concerned. The overall winner joins the venerable list of Hobart champions and takes home the coveted Tattersall’s Cup, awarded each year to the yacht with the lowest corrected time according to IRC handicap, together with a Rolex to commemorate the triumph. IRC is a time correction rating system used extensively in yacht racing around the world. Under this system, a yacht’s finishing time (elapsed time from start to finish) is multiplied by its IRC rating number to determine a corrected time. A boat’s rating number is calculated by an independent body (RORC) using a highly sophisticated, computer- assisted process which takes into account a yacht’s age, construction and materials, sail area, hull and keel designs and many other performance enhancing features such as powered winches. When the last boat arrives in Hobart, the corrected times of every boat in IRC fleet will be compared and the one with the lowest time after correction will be declared the overall winner. In theory at least, this system ensures that any well-sailed boat, regardless of its age or level of technology, can win. IRC IN ACTION Here is an example based on two very different results under IRC, from the 2005 and 2006 races. In 2005, Wild Oats XI, then a brand new Reichel/Pugh 98-footer and one of the fastest boats in the world (she has long since been lengthened to 100-feet) won both line honours and the overall victory in a rare double win. In fact, make that a triple – she simultaneously set a new race record for the 628 nautical mile course that year too. The next year in 2006, the then EQUAL ODDS The details of IRC and other handicapping systems are complex, but they all rest on the same assumption – that a level playing field throughout the fleet is the key to an exciting race. rolex/danielForster All you need to know About rAting systems, corrected times And how the overAll winner of the rolex sydney hobArt yAcht rAce is decided. FAIR gAMe T he fleet of ocean racing yachts lining up to contest this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart will vary wildly in size, from 10-metres to more than 30-metres in length.
Sails 28 October November 2014
Sails 30 February March 2015