The globally popular IRC international rating system issues certificates for a huge variety of boat designs from grand prix racers to cruising boats and its development always looks at how the rating calculation across this diverse fleet might be improved. A major rule change for 2024 seeks to ensure fair competition among IRC rated boats with varying sail configurations as well as addressing issues of sustainability and costs to owners.
At the annual International IRC Congress at the end of 2022 the IRC Technical Committee proposed rating the number of headsails from 2024, this was agreed in principle and during 2023 the Technical Committee has been working on the details and implementation of a new rule. IRC does not currently rate the number of headsails carried on board, but simply considers the largest headsail area and longest headsail luff length. However, carrying multiple headsails can give distinct advantages with flexibility in sail wardrobe for varying conditions and the ability to increase headsail area by multiple headsails set flying, particularly in a reaching configuration. In recognition of these advantages, from 2024 the number of headsails carried aboard will be counted and rated, subject to IRC Congress approval.
In recognition of safety requirements, Offshore Special Regulation compliant heavy weather jibs and storm jibs will not be included in the rated headsail count. Owners may still apply for an additional allowance for using a single furling headsail and this rule will be simplified.
The IRC Technical Committee has now published the proposed rule changes for 2024 and Notice 2023-01 which gives more information and includes an indication of the rating effects for various number of headsails on a range of different size and type yachts.
Notice 2023-01 Updated 20 October 2023