The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia today announced a slight increase in the IRC upper limit, from 1.6 to 1.61, and the incorporation of an absolute size limit of 30 metres LOA, effective for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The CYCA decision follows a process of consultation with its owners and a review of the impact on boats in last year's race of changes to the IRC Rule effective from 1 July 2003 in Australia.
The decision means that a boat such as Alfa Romeo, which won line honours in 2002, will remain eligible to compete in 2003 despite its rating having increased to 1.607.
Announcing the change, CYCA Rear Commodore Roger Hickman said the change not only ensured that boats that were eligible last year remained so in 2003 without having to make modifications, but also accommodated a number of boats currently in design or being built that became ineligible as a result of the changes in the IRC Rule.
"The CYCA was initially proposing to retain for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race the 1.6 upper limit that has applied for a number of years "
"However, over the last month we became aware of the impact of changes to the IRC Rule, and also received a strong message from affected owners that they wished to see an upper limit put in place now for a fixed period so that a number of them could complete build and modification programmes without the limit changing.
"Against that background, and having reviewed the current timetable for the development of a new rule for Grand Prix yachts, the Board concluded that it was appropriate to lock in an IRC upper limit for all our races up to the end of 2005, and that that limit would be 1.61," Rear Commodore Hickman said.
"We have made it clear to the owners, and the owners accept, that we will not be re-visiting the IRC upper limit again in 2004 and 2005 merely on the basis that a boat's rating increases above 1.61 from one year to the next. If that occurs, whatever modifications are necessary to bring the affected boat back within the limit will have to be made,"
In closing, Rear Commodore Hickman said that these decisions provide the certainty that ought encourage strong competition for line honours amongst a number of boats. It also enabled the Notice of Race for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to be completed. It is now being printed and will be available shortly.