Mark Mansfield of Quantum Sails Ireland goes through the major changes that will affect IRC racing boats in 2024. This comes after the recent IRC Conference when many of these changes were voted through.
The 2022 IRC conference decided on two major changes that would not come into effect till the 2024 season, and further details of these were provided recently. In reality, apart from some other small changes, these two major changes are what will mainly affect most owners in 2024.
Like what happened with spinnakers a few years ago, there is now a rating advantage/disadvantage depending on the number of jibs that are carried. With spinnakers in the past, it was approximately one point per extra spinnaker carried over the base number of three.
In recent times, you also got a one point improvement per spinnaker if you carried less than three spinnakers. For bigger boats, it might have even been two points per spinnaker.
Now, a similar change is happening for jibs for the 2024 season. The examples below were provided by the IRC to indicate how this change would affect various designs. However, it did not give us a base IRC figure for each design before the new jib limitations were added. It would appear that for, say, a 30-foot boat, if you carried three jibs then there would be no change, if a 40-foot boat, it may be four jibs with no change and if a 50-footer, it may be five jibs.
This is in addition to a storm jib and what is referred to as an OSR heavy weather jib (normally about a J3.5 size with some extra attachment specs).
Staysails, blast reachers, etc. would likely all be counted as one of these jib numbers.
So how will this affect most boats?
- For boats that carry a J1, J2 and J3 normally, there will be little difference if you carry all three sails.
- If, however, you mainly just do one-off day races, then you could go down to two jibs on your cert and select them each morning of a race depending on the weather.
- If you were a boat that only carried, say, a J1.5 and a J3, then you could look at going for just one jib on your cert for day races.
- Likewise, if you have an overlapping setup and normally just have a G1 and a J3, you could look at just taking one sail on a day race.
- If you were an offshore-orientated boat, with three jibs, a spinnaker, staysail and a blast reacher—then expect a rating increase if all are carried.
Remembering of course, if you race in a series on consecutive days, then you cannot change sails from day to day.
Last year, IRC allowed boats to have 2 certs each year and nominate which cert is used. Up until now, these double cert options were generally only being used by boats which race inshore as well as offshore, so maybe more spinnakers are needed offshore when a different range of conditions might be encountered and then another cert with fewer spinnakers for inshore. Now, with the jib limitation rules, expect the number of boats which have two certs to rise considerably. Even for inshore-based boats, they might go for a cert with just two jibs and one spinnaker for lighter winds and then have a second cert with three jibs and three spinnakers for heavier or mixed wind conditions. It could be that on a 40-footer there might be a difference of four points between each cert, and that is approximately 15 seconds per hour—not insignificant.
For Endorsed events, sail measurement stamps are required
This change was agreed upon in 2022 but only to commence in the 2024 season.
All sails certified from 1/1/2024 shall have a UMS/IRC sail stamp or other certification note. So, new sails need a stamp from next January as may larger sails—based on the NOR.
Sails measured before 1/1/2024 will not need to be measured with a measurement stamp/sticker on the sails unless the NOR of an event requires it. So, say, the 2024 ICRA Nationals or 2024 IRC Europeans in Dun Laoghaire decide to have this, then maybe the largest jib or spinnaker may need a measurement sticker, depending on what the NOR says.
One other change that has come out of the 2023 IRC conference is that page 2 of the IRC cert will now be available for all boats so that sails carried etc, can be inspected. No details yet of that Weblink.
This content was originally published on Afloat.