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International IRC Conference Welcomes IRC European Championships at Dun Laoghaire in 2024

25th October 2023
Competitors in the 2023 IRC European Championship held in Cannes, France, enjoyed very close racing, with final positions decided on countback. The 2025 championships will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay
Competitors in the 2023 IRC European Championship held in Cannes, France, enjoyed very close racing, with final positions decided on countback. The 2025 championships will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay Credit: Jehan Lérin

Ireland's coastal town of Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay is set to host the next IRC European Championship in September 2024, the 2023 international IRC Congress held in Paris heard recently.

Irishman Michael Boyd, who chaired the Congress and is also Chairman of the IRC Board, told delegates the biennial event will "draw sailors from across Europe and beyond, offering challenging competition and the opportunity to experience the beauty of Irish waters". 

As Afloat reported earlier, the Bay's Royal Irish Yacht Club confirmed three major keelboat events for September 2024

2024 will be the second Irish hosting of the IRC Euros, the inaugural championship was raced as part of  Cork Week in 2016.

The 2023 International IRC Congress was hosted by the Yacht Club de France, joint owners of the international IRC rating rule with the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

The meeting was well attended, with representatives of several countries present along with the IRC teams from the UK and France, while others around the world participated by video conference.

IRC is a rating rule made by sailors for sailors, illustrated by the fact that most IRC Congress members are racing sailors and talking to boat owners, with direct experience on the water that helps shape the proposals and decisions they make in the meeting room.

Reports from the different nations spanning various continents and sailing cultures offered a comprehensive global perspective on IRC racing. This panoramic view helps to identify underlying trends and facilitates valuable exchanges of insights among members from different countries.

Technical developments of the IRC rating rule

The IRC Congress announced a series of rule changes for the 2024 racing season. These changes have been carefully considered and approved by Congress and their aim is to ensure the fairness and competitiveness of IRC racing while addressing specific concerns and developments in the sailing community. The IRC Technical Committee and IRC Congress are committed to keeping the IRC rule system responsive to the evolving needs and practices of today’s sailing community while protecting the existing fleet.

The biggest change for 2024 is the introduction of rating the number of headsails carried. Carrying multiple headsails can give a distinct advantage due to flexibility in a boat’s sail wardrobe for varying conditions, and the ability to increase headsail area by multiple headsails set flying, particularly for larger boats and in a reaching configuration.

From 2024, the number of headsails carried aboard will be rated in IRC. Photo: Paul WyethFrom 2024, the number of headsails carried aboard will be rated in IRC. Photo: Paul Wyeth

For Endorsed IRC certificates any sails certified (measured) after 31st December 2023 will require a measurement sticker or stamp. Sail stamps serve as a visual confirmation that a sail has been properly measured and complies with the rating certificate, and aid equipment inspection at events when checking sails. The design of IRC flying headsails has been opened up with a reduction in the minimum half-width ratio from 62.5% to 60%.

The IRC Technical Committee is committed to further enhancing transparency within the world of competitive sailing and discussions at Congress included improving openness and providing valuable insights into boat ratings and their influencing factors while preventing the potential misuse of data. It is proposed to publish page 2 of the IRC certificate to provide sailors and the sailing community with a clear understanding of each boat's equipment and measurements, such as the number of sails that should be aboard.

IRC events 'thriving'

The conference heard that "events are central to the success of IRC and these events "continue to thrive", with many events seeing notably close results. As well as the major offshore races using IRC, continental championships continue to grow.

Dubai will play host to the 2023 IRC Middle East Championship this December, promising to bring together sailors from the region, offering them a platform to showcase their skills in unique Middle Eastern conditions.

Looking further ahead to the Admiral’s Cup in 2025, RORC has already received interest from over 20 countries, underscoring the event's and IRC’s international appeal.

The IRC Congress Minutes and papers are published here

The 2024 agreed rule changes and full rule text will be published on when finalised. Team

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  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000