Following the international IRC annual Congress meeting in October, the 2023 IRC rule text is now published on the IRC website and includes changes that reflect IRC’s desire to listen to what sailors want, simplify rules where possible and respond to changing trends not only in technical development but also racing practices.
The IRC Technical Committee and IRC Congress have shown their commitment to reducing costs for sailors and recognising the varied range of course types in which IRC boats race by introducing a secondary certificate. Any owner will now be able to apply for a second valid certificate for their boat, previously an option only available to those swapping between fully crewed or short-handed racing (rule 8.2.1). The secondary certificate incorporates the former short-handed certificate and allows more configuration changes, with potential applications being inshore/offshore; shorthanded/crewed; racing/cruising sails; or even a specific configuration for a single event.
In the interest of simplification and consistency, the wording relating to adjustment of rigging while racing (rule 21.1.6) now refers to ‘aft rigging’ instead of ‘running backstays, checkstays or adjustable backstay’, with no change to rating effects; and stored power now refers to ‘aft rigging only’ rather than ‘backstay only’ (rule 15.2).
The responsibility of rating rules to support sustainable practices and maximise the competitive lifespan of boats at the same time as encouraging initiatives and technical development is always on the IRC agenda. The 2023 formulation changes include an extension of age allowance beyond 20 years, giving a small amount of additional credit to those boats built before the turn of the millennium.
There will also be a review of the rating of IRC Flying Headsails to increase their attraction as a rating option, while not moving them into the realms of being seen as a requirement to be competitive. Alongside this, with a year’s notice, the number of headsails carried aboard will be rated from 2024; more details of this will be published during 2023.
The IRC Technical Committee are keen to increase transparency relating to rated inputs, and with this in mind the new IRC certificate will include a second page showing a basic drawing including the rated data, rig details and appendages to help owners and competitors to easily see the rated configuration of the boat.
The 2023 IRC rule applies from 1st January 2023, except in countries with June-May validity where the rule will apply from 1st June 2023.
2023 IRC Rule text and more information about rule changes: https://ircrating.org/irc-rule/
Full IRC Congress 2022 Minutes and other associated documents: https://ircrating.org/about/irc-congress/