ORCi World Championship - Innovative new format announced

by ORC 
ORCI World Championship 2012
Audi ORCi World Championship is being held from 4th to 11th August 2012 in Helsink, Finland. Based on the entries received by 1st May 2012, organizers at the Merenkävijät Sailing Club (MSC) and the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) have announced the split between Class A and Class B entries.

Competitors with a 2012 ORC GPH (General Purpose Handicap) rating of 614.9 sec/mile or less will race for the Class A World Championship title, and those with a 2012 GPH of greater than or equal to 615.0 sec/mi will race for the Class B World Championship title. At the current entry level of 128, this puts over 40 boats in Class A and over 80 boats in Class B - figures are not exact yet, as some teams listed their 2011 GPH figures in their entries.

The large number of entries has prompted MSC to create two separate course areas for racing Class A and Class B that are south of the event venue on Särkkä Island. But the difference in the numbers of entries in each class has also prompted a racing format for Class B that while new for an ORC championship, is not unusual for other championship events in large one-design fleets: the creation of Gold and Silver heats.

The format will operate like this: before the start of racing, Class B will be divided equally by selecting alternate boats from the entry list in order of GPH into two groups, called Heats, that will race in a Qualifying Round over the first three days of competition. These three days will include one offshore race and from three to four inshore races. Organizers have said it will be the intention of the Race Committee to have the Qualifying Round consist of a maximum of five races, including 1 offshore race and 4 inshore races, although weather may determine some modifications to this plan.

Cumulative results from each Class B Heat will then be used to determine the top half teams that will advance to the Class B Gold Heat, and the bottom half to race in the Class B Silver Heat. The remaining races of the event will then be held within each fleet, with points carried from the Qualifying Round added to new results to determine the top half of the final results from the Gold Heat. The remaining places will be determined from the final results in the Silver Heat.

For example: 81 Class B boats would be divided by their GPH in two Heats in the Qualifying Round (41 in Heat 1 and 40 in Heat 2). After this Qualifying Round the top 20 from each heat will qualify for the final Class B Gold Heat and rest of the boats will sail in the final Class B Silver Heat. By the end of the event the boats in the final Class B Gold Heat will compete for overall places 1 - 40 and boats in the final Class B Silver Heat will compete for overall places 41 - 81.

'We learned from the 2011 World Championship last year in Cres that putting 60 offshore race boats on a starting line is very difficult,' says ORC Chairman Bruno Finzi. 'It is difficult for the race managers, and compromises the quality of the racing for the competitors. Since we are allowed only two World Championship titles to award from ISAF, we have agreed with organizers from Merenkävijät to adopt this format to have two separate course areas for the inshore courses and a split Class B so that the competitors and the race managers can have the best possible racing.'

'We are confident this format will work well,' says MSC Manager Pekka Lopmeri. 'Our Principal Race Officers will be Leena Meisalo and Jan Kolster, who both have large-fleet experience, and their teams stand ready to manage the courses in each race area.'

Significant improvements have also been made to the event venue to help accommodate the huge increase in entries from what was anticipated in the original planning. More floating piers are being provided by the City of Helsinki, and overflow dockage arranged in the nearby area of Valkosaari if needed. Support pontoons are being provided at the waterfront at Hernesaari, close to where parking is available for 50 support vehicles.

And regular ferry services will be available to the event's island venue at Särkkä from Kaivopuisto, where a public Race Village will be built, and Hernesaari.

ORCi World Championship website