Offshore racing

Offshore yacht racing has recently been likened as the marathon of the sailing world. As the name suggests, offshore yacht racing generally takes competitors offshore and away from land although major landmarks are frequently used as turning marks for the courses.

Offshore racing can vary quite considerably with some races lasting as little as 12 hours and longer races covering oceans taking weeks or months. The key ingredient in an offshore race is that it will, generally, include at least one night at sea.

It is this dynamic that gives Offshore Racing its appeal to many sailors. Being able to push the boat in a wide variety of conditions while cooking, cleaning and sleeping is a challenge and finding the right balance can be tricky.

Pay for play offshore
If you are going to charter a yacht then you should make sure that it fully complies with the relevant requirements of the Offshore Special Regulations and any other safety requirements for the race you will be undertaking. Yachts which are chartered need to be coded by a Certifying Authority authorised by the MCA or alternatively, yachts which are not in regular commercial operation may apply to the RYA for a Racing Charter Licence.

In the Netherlands, there are various rating systems that allow boats of different sizes and shapes to compete against each other in sailing races. The rating systems are used to adjust for the differences in sailing time, making the races comparable, and giving everyone an equal chance to win. The international IRC and ORC systems are the most well-known, but the national SW (Snelheid Wedstrijdzeilen or Speed Sailing Racing) system is also gaining popularity, especially among novice racing sailors.

The Noordzee Club plays a crucial role in supporting these rating systems as an ORC, IRC, and SW class organization. The club provides support to race organizers and ensures that events are conducted fairly and safely, allowing participants to sail at the highest possible quality and enjoyable level.

The support offered by the Noordzee Club includes assistance with regulations, race organization, measurement checks, and facilitating participants in optimizing their ratings and scratch sheets. Additionally, the club promotes competitive sailing as much as possible by organizing Open Dutch Championships and the annual Verbondsbezem Competition. You can find a list of the races that are part of these various competitions in the calendar.

In summary, the Noordzee Club plays a vital role in ensuring that sailing races in the Netherlands are well-structured, fair, and enjoyable for all participants, regardless of the rating system being used.

Sailing races follow a specific structure and set of rules to ensure fair competition and safety. Here’s a general overview of how racing works:

Preparation: Before the race, sailors prepare their yachts, checking safety equipment, sails, rigging, and navigation tools. They also study the race course, weather forecasts, and tidal information.

Start Procedure: Races typically begin with a starting procedure, which involves a sequence of signals (flags and sounds) indicating the time remaining before the start. Boats must cross the starting line after the starting signal without being early (over the line).

The Course: The race course is predefined and may involve several legs, requiring sailors to navigate to different points. Courses can be “windward-leeward” (upwind and downwind legs), coastal, or point-to-point in offshore races.

Racing Rules: Sailors must adhere to the Racing Rules of Sailing, which dictate right of way, how boats may interact, and penalties for rule infringements. These rules ensure safety and fair competition.

Tactics and Strategy: Sailors decide their tactics, like choosing the most favorable side of the race course based on wind and currents, and when to tack or gybe. Strategy also involves starting position, sail choice, and managing boat speed.

Finishing: The race ends when boats cross the finish line. Times are recorded, and in handicap racing, corrected times are calculated based on each boat’s handicap rating, which levels the playing field between different types of boats.

Scoring: Races can be standalone events or part of a series. Points are awarded based on finishing position, and the boat with the lowest score at the end of the series typically wins.

Post-Race: After the race, there’s often a debriefing, and in larger races, social events and prize-giving ceremonies.

Each race may have specific rules or characteristics based on the organizing authority, type of boats racing, and geographic location.

Challenging Weather Conditions: Offsshore Racing often involves dealing with strong winds, which require knowledge and skill to navigate safely.

Complex Currents: The waters around England can have significant and complex currents, demanding an understanding of tidal patterns and current navigation.

Safety: For the safety of all on board, it’s important that participants have a basic understanding of sailing and can contribute to the safe operation of the yacht.

Enjoyment and Participation: A certain level of experience ensures that you can fully engage and enjoy the adventure, understanding the nuances of sailing.

Team Dynamics: Experience helps in integrating with the crew, understanding roles, and contributing effectively to the team.

Rate your standard production cruiser/racer, classic or hi-tech racing yacht

Great racing inshore and offshore
From small local events to major national trophies
Use the same rating in any event worldwide with an IRC class
No local handicap adjustments
Simple to calculate corrected time and position while on the water
Single number, time-on-time rating (TCC)
Calculated from basic boat data and configuration details
Physical weighing and measurement by your local IRC measurer, if required
Ability to run trial ratings to test effect of proposed changes
Simple to amend rated data during the year
Progressive approach to the rating of technical developments
Allowances for full fitout and cruising features

IRC is a rating rule to handicap different designs of keelboats allowing them to race together; unlike a performance handicap a rating is not altered between races according to the individual boat’s performance, but is based on the physical measurements of the boat.

Each boat’s rating (her ‘handicap’) is calculated using measurements of the boat; her length, weight, draft, rig size, sail area, and specific characteristics and features. The resulting time corrector, the boat’s ‘TCC’, is her handicap. The higher the TCC figure, the faster the boat’s potential speed; IRC TCCs range from 0.750 to 2.000, with the majority of cruiser/racers between 0.900 and 1.100.

After a race, each boat’s elapsed time (the time she has taken to complete the course) is multiplied by her TCC to calculate her corrected time (her race time making allowance for the characteristics of the boat). The boat with the shortest corrected time is the winner of the race.

IRC is aimed at a very wide range of keelboats of all sizes and shapes including modern production cruisers and cruiser/racers through dedicated one-off race boats, older cruisers and racers to classic yachts and superyachts. IRC is continually developed to encompass new developments in both cruisers and racers while at the same time protecting the interests of the bulk of the fleet.

It is open to all types, sizes and ages of boats. IRC permits features such as asymmetric spinnakers, bowsprits, twin, triple, wing and drop keels, twin masts, gaff rigs, water ballast, canting keels, ‘code zero’ headsails, lateral daggerboards etc., and deals with these features as equitably as possible.

The methods and formulae used for the calculation of IRC TCCs are not published. This prevents designers taking advantage of the rule when designing new boats and very substantially increases the competitive lifetime of IRC rated boats. As a result, boats of all ages and types win races under IRC. Everything from classics through IOR designs to modern cruisers, cruiser/racers, and racers.

IRC is structured to be as simple as possible for both sailors and race administrators: there is no requirement for boats to be officially measured (unless required in individual countries). IRC accepts owner declaration of a boat’s measurements. All an owner needs to do is fill in the application form and send it to us. There is the option of an ‘Endorsed’ certificate, for which the data has been audited which may include official weighing and measurement.

IRC is used for a huge number of races and regattas all over the world, and it would be impossible to list them all!   As a taster, apart from local club races IRC is used at (among many others) well known events such as: Round the Island Race (UK), Cowes Week, Rolex Fastnet Race, Volvo Cork Week, RORC Caribbean 600, Voiles de St Tropez, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Japan Cup, Hamilton Island Race Week, Rolex China Sea Race,  Phuket King’s Cup, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Spi Ouest France, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Half Ton Classics Cup, Quarter Ton Cup, Marmaris Week, Australian Yachting Championships, RORC Transatlantic Race, Brisbane to Gladstone Race, IRC European Championship, Aegean 600, RORC Baltic 600, Australian Maxi Championship; and various national championships. (Event sponsors correct at publication date).

There are boats in 40 countries on all 6 continents racing under IRC.

IRC Rule, Notices & Policies

ORC is a rating system to allow different types of yachts to race against each other as fairly as possible. The system is owned, developed, and managed by the international Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). As a class organization, the Noordzee Club represents Dutch certificate holders at this Congress.

The ORC rating calculation is entirely based on hull and rig data. The rating determination is objective and calculates the theoretical speed of the boat in various conditions. Many variables can be used to determine the rating. The more data points from your boat are measured, the more accurate the handicap. Because in the absence of values, the calculation program relies on assumptions, and reserves are built in.

International Database
ORC uses a global database of hull files (offset files). These are an important part of the handicap calculation. If no offset file is available, a way is found in consultation with the owner to obtain a hull file, possibly through a 3D scan. In parallel, there is also a database of the lines plan and rigging of many types of boats.

ORC Club or ORCi (i = international)
If your boat is in the above-mentioned database, a measurement certificate can be issued based on a self-declaration, which is referred to as ORC Club. As an owner, you provide a few simple details via a web form. The handicap that results will not be the best, but it is accurate enough to participate competitively in ORC races. The more data points are measured, the more accurate the rating, and an extensive measurement leads to an ORCi (international), which allows participation in European and World Championships.

For an ORC Club measurement certificate, the E (foot length) and P measurement (luff length) of the mainsail, and the luff length and LPG measurement (perpendicular length from clew to luff) of the headsail are sufficient. These can also be provided by a sailmaker. For the spinnaker/gennaker, you only need to specify the area. More information about the values on the application form can be found on the ORC website, www.orc.org under measurements.

Do you want a better handicap? Then have your boat measured by an accredited measurer and your sails by an accredited sailmaker. This will result in a more accurate rating. The Offshore Racing Congress and the Noordzee Club encourage more boats to be measured. Group measurements are organized for this purpose. If you have your boat measured in a free group measurement and become a member of the Noordzee Club, the first year of membership is free.

The ORCi measurement certificate goes even further. It includes the measurement of the propeller installation, mast weight, and stability. This provides the most accurate measurement of a boat, often with a more favorable handicap. European and World Championships require ORCi, but even if you do not participate in these races, you can still have (part of) these measurements carried out.

Sailing Races: Not for the Faint of Heart

Embarking on an Offshore Race is an endeavor reserved for the bold and the experienced. This is not a playground for beginners, but a thrilling challenge for intermediate to advanced sailors. Here, the winds are strong, the currents, unpredictable, making every race a test of skill, endurance, and quick decision-making.

These races demand more than basic knowledge; they require a deep understanding of sailing techniques, a keen intuition for reading the sea, and an unshakeable confidence in one’s abilities. Participants must be adept at handling sudden shifts in weather, navigating complex routes, and working seamlessly as part of a skilled team.

So, if you’re drawn to the adrenaline of competition and have honed your skills on the waves, these races await. They offer not just a contest, but an unforgettable adventure where the sea challenges and the spirit soars. For the seasoned sailor, it’s an opportunity to push limits, showcase mastery, and revel in the sheer exhilaration of sailing at its most demanding.

Yes, experience is necessary. Our sailing adventures, often around England, involve strong winds and significant currents. Key reasons for needing experience include:

  1. Safety: Knowledge of sailing is crucial to navigate safely in challenging conditions.
  2. Enjoyment: Understanding sailing enhances your overall enjoyment and participation.
  3. Teamwork: Experience allows you to effectively contribute to the crew’s efforts.
  4. Handling Challenges: Strong winds and currents require confident, quick decision-making.
  5. Navigating Local Conditions: Familiarity with sailing prepares you for the specific challenges of the English waters.

In short, experience ensures a safe, enjoyable, and successful sailing experience in these demanding conditions.

In our programs, we offer experienced sailors the opportunity to explore offshore racing, team spirit, and sailing skills. Racing sailing is a comprehensive training program that goes beyond just participating in a race. As a team member, you will have the opportunity to try different positions and discover your own talent. The highlights are the training sessions and masterclasses in sail trimming and managing various tasks on board.

If you have the right team spirit and mindset, and if you’re eager to improve your sailing speed, you can sign up for our selection process.