A new rating rule initiative named ORCA has been launched in the United States, led by a consortium of clubs, race organizers, marine industry leaders and sailors with support from US Sailing.
The immediate mission is to coordinate the different levels of offshore racing in the US with specific focus on rule(s) targeted for the more competitive owners and sailors. These will include development of what is commonly referred to as a grand prix rule.
An earlier Offshore Racing Club of America was created in the mid 70s. According to member Terry KOHLER. "ORCA was established to communicate the interests and objectives of offshore racers to further the sport of sailboat racing."
That mission is part of the new ORCA as well.
The growing membership of this new US initiative includes Stan HONEY, Pete REICHELSDORFER and Jim TEETERS of the former international rule working party, as well as John WINDER, chairman of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, Bill LEE, designer and rule-maker (Transpac 52 and MaxZ86 classes), Dan NOWLAN of US SAILING and Barry CARROLL, lately of Carroll Marine. Teeters and Winder are co-chairing the effort. Discussions are being held with numerous clubs, race organizations and individuals to identify what is working and not working for their sailors and then put together a rules program based on those needs.
The board of the Cruising Club of America (CCA), co-organizers of the Newport Bermuda Race, last week renewed its own commitment to developing rating rules. Commodore Truman CASNER. "The CCA strongly believes in the goals of the ORCA initiative and hopes that other clubs will join in and provide support."
It should be noted that the CCA, in it history, has been centrally involved in rating rule development, particularly the CCA and MHS Rules.
ORCA has reached an agreement with the Transpac 52 Class to embrace that growing fleet as central to its grand prix rule. These boats embody much of what grand prix racing is about: fast, fun and seaworthy boats with close racing and simple scoring. Moreover, this is where the market is and where it is going. New boats have hit the water this year and class events will be held at the NYYC spring regatta, Chicago/Mac Race and 9 boats expected for St. Francis Big Boat. At least 4 TP 52s will compete in the Newport Bermuda Race.
Emphasis is on following the market and supporting existing high level sailing as much as on developing any new rules or re-tooling old ones. The initial response from the US professional community is overwhelmingly supportive, with a strong desire to back the initiative.
Although ORCA is a US-based organization, it also believes that an international rule with broad acceptance would be a boon to sailors worldwide. We will keep our colleagues at ORC, RORC and other international organizations informed of our progress.
Further details are available on the event website at the address below.