Dueling Rules

Yes, IRC how has a firm footing in the U.S., but don’t think you’ve heard the last of Americap. This home-grown, mid-level rule’s proponents argue that it was making slow, steady progress even without effective marketing on the part of US Sailing, and they have formed a nonprofit they hope will take over development, promotion, and race management training.

Administration stays with US Sailing.

Chicago YC, Transpacific YC, and Cruising Club of America combined to create the new Ocean Racing Association (ORA) to develop Americap with a special eye toward their long-distance events. Jim Teeters, another strong proponent of VPP-based rules and a naval architect who works on the development of the Americap VPP, said, “We’d prefer to not be in a battle with IRC (us-irc.org), but we’re not going away. We have people who are convinced that IRC is not going to work for them.”

The squabble stems from dissatisfaction with the IMS and a lack of agreement over the best way forward. A number of the clubs that led the way to bringing IRC to the U.S. from abroad first led the way to experimenting with Americap. They’ve since come to see IRC as a viable, already-worldwide rule with an existing constituency, and they ask, why not go with something that’s working. Their collective experience with Americap did not compel them to any other conclusion.
Americap supporters counter that it will do a better job of accounting for variables, stability in particular. They also claim that it will do a better job of protecting the existing fleet and will be needed when IRC succumbs to the pressures of new designs. Las Vegas should be taking odds. K.L.

Here is the original announcement:


Three top US yacht clubs announced today their combined effort behind a mid-level handicap rule initiative for the three most visible and prestigious distance races in the US. The announcement by Rick Lillie, Chicago-Mackinac Race Chairman, Commodore Truman Casner of the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and Commodore Jerry Montgomery of the Transpacific Yacht Club (TPYC) marks the formation of the Offshore Racing Association (ORA). Working in collaboration with US Sailing, ORA will focus on the management and development of AMERICAP II, the VPP and measurement-based rule currently used by those clubs. US Sailing will retain administrative functions such as certificate issuance while ORA will undertake promotional and developmental tasks providing an increased level of manpower not previously directed toward the rule. In developing the midlevel rule initiative, the ORA has reached out to include such experienced advisors as Olin Stephens and Stan Honey. Additionally, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC), co-organizers of the Newport-Bermuda Race with CCA are supportive of the initiative, as are the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race organizers.

The Newport-Bermuda, Transpac Race and Chicago-Mackinac Races have been using VPP-based rules for some years now with the intent of providing the fairest method of handicapping available for their racing fleets which include a wide range of existing boats designed over the past several decades.

All three clubs have distinguished records in rule development. Truman Casner: “The CCA played a lead role in the creation of both the CCA and MHS/IMS rules. It is time for us to step up again and help with the next major offshore rule.”

Jerry Montgomery: “There is a strong need for a rational rule that meets the racing sailor’s requirements of fair ratings in a variety of different races and does not give undue advantage to a boat that ‘fits the rule’ versus one that does not.”

Rick Lillie: “AMERICAP II has provided tighter results for the varied conditions encountered in the Chicago-Mackinac Race. It successfully acknowledges that buoy race and distance race handicaps cannot always be the same.”

For those presently holding AMERICAP II certificates, improvements will be made but the fundamentals will remain the same. In response to requests from racers, 2005 certificates will show single number time-on-time and time-on-distance ratings for each of the standard course/wind mixes, allowing both simplified scoring and on-the-water estimates of fleet position. Wind tunnel and towing tank test data, mixed with analysis of race results, will guide another seven modifications to the VPP for 2005.

The Chicago-Mackinac and Marion-Bermuda Races will be run once again under AMERICAP II in 2005. In the meantime, ORA will develop the rule to be even more inclusive of diverse boat types and enhance its ability to handle closed course racing. Look for the new name Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) to replace AMERICAP II on certificates for 2006.


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