Yachts with water ballast will be allowed to contest the IMS handicap category to decide the overall winner of the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia yesterday confirmed that the Overall Winner of the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race would be the first yacht on corrected time in the IMS (International Measurement System) handicap category.
At the same time, the CYCA said it had decided that boats with water ballast that obtain an IMS Rating Certificate would be eligible to compete in the IMS handicap category.
The decision means that almost the entire fleet will be eligible for the prestigious Overall first place and winner of the historic Tattersalls Cup.
The CYCA has also reduced the entry fee for the 59th annual blue water classic and will continue with IMS, IRC and PHS as the specified handicap divisions, allowing multiple IMS and IRC entries. One Design Classes will also again be eligible to race.
The Club has, however, opened up the prospect of including new handicap divisions if requested by yacht owners, such as a cruiser/racer class or other handicap categories.
Until now, the IMS rule has not accommodated water ballasted boats although they are able to compete in IRC (International Rule Club 2000) and, from the 2002 year, in the PHS (non rating) division.
Among the yachts excluded from IMS in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race because they used water ballast were Grundig, Nicorette, Magnavox, Australian Skandia Wild Thing, Canon (Leopard of London) and Broomstick.
Announcing the changes, CYCA Commodore John Messenger said the introduction of water ballast into IMS would make the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race even more competitive and would attract more overseas entries.
"Yachts with water ballast may begin to compete in IMS events while ensuring there is no handicap advantage over the regular fleet,"
Commodore Messenger stressed.
Commodore Messenger said the Notice of Race for the 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race should be available by the end of March, giving full details of the changes.
Rear Commodore Roger Hickman, Chairman of the CYCA Sailing Committee, explained that the CYCA decision to allow water ballast was associated with a decrease in the upper speed limit from 470 to 420 seconds per nautical mile GPH (General Purpose Handicap) to allow for the faster speed achieved by using water ballast.
The upper speed limit for IRC division boats would continue at 1.600.
"The CYCA is at the front of the wave internationally in taking up the ORC's decision to allow water ballasted yachts to race under IMS,"
Rear Commodore Hickman said.
"The CYCA has elected to continue with IMS as the premier rating rule because at this time no persuasive case could be made for a change.
"IMS had proved highly successful in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart and the lead-up regattas,"