Photograph © by Michael Kurtz / Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Fair Racing / Handicapping

Committee Members | ORC Measuring | Corinthian Spirit | Activities and Status | Reports and Documents | Superyacht Regattas – Handicapping Rules

The mission of the Fair Racing / Handicapping Committee is to address all fair racing issues and to evaluate the handicapping/rating systems currently being used in superyacht racing, identifying the positive and negative aspects of each rule. The committee is to report back to the SYRA Executive Committee with recommendations on the viability of the rules being used as they pertain to fair racing, how they can be improved for superyacht racing and whether a new superyacht rule should be considered. Other fair racing issues such as class breaks, the owner/driver issue and course composition will be addressed.

2024 VPP Areas of Interest (pdf)
Report from the ORC International Technical Committee

2023 ORCSY Amendments Review (pdf)
Presented at the 2023 SYRA AGM

Eligibility Criteria

‘Cruising Superyacht’ Definition (pdf) 25 October 2022

SYRA Update on ORCsy Sail Initiatives

Accountability of Sails in the ORCsy Rule: A Preview of Likely Changes for 2020 (pdf)

Headsails Set Flying (HSF) – ORCsy

July 2020 SYRA Working Party and ORC Reports (pdf)

ORCsy Updates and Notices for 2020

Sail Accountability Overview (pdf)
ORC Wind Ranges for 2020 and 2019 (pdf)
ORC Notice on ORCsy Changes (pdf)

Fair Racing / Handicapping Committee

Race Committee Plays a Vital Role

Race ChartWhen considering ‘fair racing’ for anything other than one design racing, the Handicap Rule invariably come to the fore. That is certainly true in superyacht racing. The current handicap rule, the ORCsy, receives close scrutiny by participants, yacht designers, builders and program managers. “This handicap is unfair!” has been heard many times over many years and under different rules.

The ORCsy has been the handicap rule of choice for superyacht regatta organizers since 2015. Over that time frame this transparent rule and VPP have evolved, and by all accounts significant improvements and refinements have been realized.

It is however, important to note that there are other factors that come into play when one evaluates race results. Performance on the race course, yacht preparation (sails, bottom condition, etc.) and class breaks are three obvious ones. We delved into class breaks and all that entails in the February, 2019 issue of the SYRA Newsletter.

A fourth, important factor that does not garner as much attention, is the role the race committee has in providing as level a playing field as possible. Read more

Committee Members

Membership as of 1 January 2024

Peter Craig ChairBucket Regatta Director
Jim TaylorSYRA Technical Representative
Nacho PostigoIbiza JoySail
Ruurt MeulemansHoek Design Naval Architects
Ken KeefeProgram Manager
SYRA Manager

Important ORCsy Updates for the 2020 Racing Season

SYRA Note Regarding ORCsy Sail Changes (pdf)
ORCsy 2019 Update (pdf)

Fair Racing
Accounting for Sails
SYRA Working Party’s Proposal to ORC

The current superyacht handicap rule authority, ORC, was considering changing the accounting of sails in their Rule and VPP just prior to the 2019 season. The SYRA encouraged them to delay any change and to research the issues more thoroughly. Should there be a policy change, it is important to ensure that programs are informed in a timelier manner. To that end, the SYRA formed a Working Party to assess this important issue. Members of the Working Party included program managers, sail makers, afterguard members and regatta organizers. The SYRA proposal to ORC can be found here. If you have input please feel free to contact Peter Craig

19 June, 2019
SYRA Proposal for 2020 ORCsy Rule
Accounting for Sails

As you know, from our meeting in Porto Cervo earlier this month, the SYRA Fair Racing/Handicapping Committee formed a Working Party to address the issues of sail accountability as it pertains to the ORCsy Rule and VPP, and what might be the best policies for superyacht racing going forward.

Members of the Working Party, represent an extensive cross section of knowledgeable professional sailors, program managers and sailmakers who represent well over 20 superyachts that are currently active racing, in addition to 3 regatta organizers…Read more…

Fair Racing
2019 ORCsy Rule and VPP – Better Yet

The handicap rule used by nearly all of event organizers for the past 4 years is the ORC Superyacht Rule (ORCsy).
This came about 4 years ago through a SuperYacht Racing Association initiative in response to feedback from superyacht owners who sought to have a fully transparent rule. The resulting collaboration between the ORC, the worldwide leader in rating technologies, and the SYRA has been recognized by yacht owners and crews as a great success to this point.

At the conclusion of racing every autumn the ORC, with input from SYRA technical representatives, compiles a list of superyacht handicap rule and Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) issues to be researched further and tested in order to continue with refinement and improvement of the rule in the interest of fair racing.

The first test run of the 2019 is expected later this month for evaluation by the ORC and SYRA. The list of features and areas being researched for the 2019 ORCsy VPP include, but are not limited to :
• KEEL RESISTANCE – The keel resistance (frictional and residuary) will be revised for high thickness and shallow draft keels.
• DYNAMIC AND TACKING ALLOWANCE – These allowances will be revised to better assess heavy boats accelerations, not only in tacks and jibes.
• STABILITY – In the computation of righting moment the effect of free surfaces of liquid tanks will be taken into account for those boats providing a certified stability booklet.
• MIZZEN STAYSAIL – The efficiency of the mizzen staysails, which depends on the blanketing effect of the mizzen, will be further evaluated.
• DECLARED CERTIFICATE PENALTY – The penalty will be reviewed and tuned according to the number of races a yacht participated in previous seasons. For those new to superyacht racing it will be reduced. (presently at 1% for declared certificates)
• SAIL ALLOWANCE – The allowance for the number of sails carried on board will be reviewed to better assess cruising configurations.
• CORINTHIAN SPIRIT CLASS – A screening factor based on Sail Area /DSPL and/or DSPL/Length ratios will be studied to make the class more homogeneous in the Corinthian Spirit Class.
• CORINTHIAN CERTIFICATES ONLY – A size factor will be studied to assess different acceleration for big yachts.
• DYNARIG assessment improvement.

ORC Measuring Under the ORCsy

It is important to separate fact from fiction regarding measured yachts under the current superyacht handicapping rule. While the Rule Authority clearly prefers measured date over declared data, it is not mandatory to measure one’s yacht in order to race under the ORCsy.

The perception from some that unmeasured yachts receive a significant penalty assigned to their ORCsy handicaps is not true. For the 2018 ORCsy VPP, a rating adjustment of 1% across all wind ranges is assigned to yachts that are not measured. As an example, for a yacht with a 400 second per mile rating, this amounts to approximately 1 minute 20 seconds for a 20nm race. It is worth noting that this transparent adjustment is mentioned in section 302.3 of the ORCsy Rule… “A boat with a “Declared” ORCsy certificate shall receive a penalty of 1% on her rating time allowances”. Captains have been reminded that this was to be put into effect numerous times prior to the 2018 racing.

It has not yet been determined how non-measured yachts will be treated with the 2019 VPP. The ORC is contemplating a more significant rating adjustment than 1%, though this issue is to be discussed at a meeting between the ORC and SYRA later this spring. SYRA members are encouraged to provide us with your feedback on this issue.

A welcome change in superyacht racing in recent years has been a growing sense of confidence from owners and sailors that the superyacht rating rule of choice (ORCsy) has clearly enhanced fair racing. A fully transparent VPP has played a major role in the popularity of the rule, which debuted 4 short years ago. But so too has the fact that measured data is steadily replacing declared data fleet wide. As of March 2018, 54 superyachts were fully measured with more already partially measured or scheduled to be fully measured soon.

There are two steps to measuring – the out of water hull scanning to capture offset files and then the flotation and inclining procedure while in the water. For more information on measuring your yacht, please contact the ORC at or refer to the applicable section of the ORC website: ORC SY Measurement Guidance 2017.pdf

List of ORC measured superyachts tops 50
A welcome change in superyacht racing in recent years has been a growing sense of confidence from owners and sailors that the superyacht rating rule of choice (ORCsy) has enhanced fair racing. A fully transparent VPP has played a meaningful role in the popularity of the rule, which debuted 4 short years ago. But so too has the fact that measured date is steadily replacing declared data fleet wide. As of December 2017, 50 superyachts were fully measured with another 18 partially measured or scheduled early in 2018.  Click to see the current this list of ORC Measured Yachts (pdf)

As more yachts get measured, it has been substantiated that some of the data declared by teams has not accurately reflected the ‘as raced’ condition of their yacht. Both the SYRA and ORC have been encouraging racing superyachts to consider getting measured during the next yard period when they are scheduled to haul out. In addition to playing a role in fair racing, programs will be able to accurately quantify their yachts’ ‘as raced’ displacement and stability.

Participating programs have been reminded that the ORCsy VPP will again feature a rating adjustment for those yachts that are unmeasured (approximately 1% across all wind ranges in 2018). This transparent adjustment will be reflected on the certificates. It is the intent of the rating authority to reassess the rating adjustment for the following year as they learn more about the realities of measured versus declared data. Regatta Organizers and the ORC encourage those programs planning to race in the future to make arrangements to measure the next time their yachts are scheduled to be hauled.

There are two steps to measuring – the out of water hull scanning to capture offset files and then the flotation and inclining procedure while in the water. The Rule Authority is more than willing to explain the process to Captains who would be measuring for the first time. Please contact the ORC here or refer to the applicable section of the ORC website: ORC SY Measurement Guidance 2017.pdf

Corinthian Spirit

Corinthian Spirit Racing – Expanding the Playing Field

A 2017 SYRA initiative, Corinthian Spirit racing is showing some real traction just one year later. With fleet building a primary goal, this class is designed to attract yacht owners new to superyacht racing as well as with those who participated in the past, but are not currently competing. Informal polling has revealed that the reasons for dissatisfaction from those who left racing was quite varied, and included the former handicapping rule, expenses related to yacht optimization, the need to augment permanent crew, and perceptions regarding safe racing.

The SYRA, in collaboration with the ORC, has created a superyacht racing experience with an emphasis on fun, competitive racing with streamlined access to a handicap certificate, fewer regatta related expenses, and minimal impact on the yacht captain’s resources. The initiative debuted successfully at the 2017 edition of the St Barths Bucket with four yachts competing and all participants pleased with the class debut. This year’s Bucket featured a six-yacht class and the Superyacht Cup Palma will have a ‘Spirit Class’ later this month.

A key Corinthian Spirit goal is to keep the racing fun and competitive without yacht owners having to optimize their yachts. The aim is to provide an enjoyable experience for participating owners and their guests with all well sailed yachts capable of a podium finish regardless of pre-regatta optimization and preparation.

The most notable criteria and class specific rule precludes spinnakers, Code 0 sails and mizzen staysails. Additionally, jibs on furlers or hanks are a must. All participants are required to have a valid ORC Corinthian Spirit (ORCcs) handicap certificate and an experienced RRS-Safety Afterguard Member on board.

The process of acquiring an ORCcs handicap certificate is simplified with the ORC and regatta organizer assisting if a captain asks for help. The ORC representative meets with all captains (and owners if so desired) on the participating yacht at the regatta for an information exchange prior to racing. When handicapping yachts, the ORC takes into account each yacht’s optimization for racing (or lack thereof) before final handicaps are assigned.

Handicap adjustments can and will be made by the ORC/SYRA panel between races based on observed speed potential and maneuvering characteristics of the yachts (using GPS tracking and on water observations).

And there will be a 1% Owner / Driver credit applied to handicaps of those yachts who’s owner drives at least half of each race.

Safe racing has been and will continue to be a top priority of regatta organizers and the SYRA for all superyacht racing. There will be no compromise to safe racing in the Corinthian Spirit Class. The pursuit or staggered start racing formats are used with the superyacht RRS Appendix SY in play to ensure safe racing remains the top priority.

Because the Spirit Class yachts race without spinnakers, their class may sail shorter courses than the conventional racing classes.

We hope to continue experiencing growth with this superyacht initiative and feel strongly that it can expand the playing field, enabling more yacht owners to enjoy the superyacht racing experience.

Activities and Status

ORCsy 2017 End Season Report:
After 9 successful events in 2017 (SuperYacht Challenge Antigua, Swan Cup and Loro Piana Caribbean Regatta in Virgin Gorda, St. Barth Bucket Regatta in St. Barth, Loro Piana SY Regatta in Porto Cervo, SY America’s Cup in Bermuda, SY Cup in Palma, Candy Store Cup in Newport and Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo) the ORC would like to update you on the situation of our handicap system. Read more here.

There are a number of issues that come into play when one looks to address “fair racing” with superyachts. First and foremost is the rating / handicapping of the yachts. The different systems are explained here, as well as a list of what rules superyacht regattas are using.

Other areas that impact ‘fair racing’ that will be addressed include but are not limited to: accurate measurement data, shared database among rule authorities, course composition/race management, racing oriented superyachts, class splits, passing lanes in pursuit racing, extended starting sequences, and owner/drivers.

The ORCsy Handicap Rule made its successful debut in 2015. The rule continues to evolve based on experience and observations.

For more information and the Rule Overview visit:

Reports and Documents

Displacement Meeting at YCCS
Meeting Summary 60KB PDF
17 June 2013