Preparing for the show
The efforts made by dozens of organizers for the last several months are finally paying off here at the Adria Ferries ORCi World Championship. With two days left before racing starts on Monday, the measurers are busy with their lists, the organizers are registering boats and entries, the race committee has met to go over their plans, the media and sponsors are starting to gather at the venue at Marina Dorica, and the sailors are putting in some practice time out on the water in today’s perfect 8-12 knot seabreeze.
ORC’s “Green Book” is a set of championship standards refined over decades of competitive events and provides the template for the championship race format: 7 windward-leeward inshore races and one offshore race (scored in two parts) are planned for next week, with Class A and Class B scored separately to determine a new ISAF offshore World Champion from each.
To handle the large group of over 50 boats in each class, but limited to only 3 specific course areas depending on the wind direction (named Torrette, Passeto, and Numama), the Race Committee has devised an interesting approach to both control the crowds and still keep the racing fair. The plan is to have both classes to share the same starting area, with a mid-line boat set to accurately observe two adjacent start lines to ensure there are no boats missed in the OCS calls at the starts.
And while this is not unusual, what comes next in the course geometry is: the larger Class A entries will sail a windward leg first, then reach across to a new windward-leeward track composed of either one or two laps, followed by a short reach to the finish after clearing the last leeward gate. Class B boats meanwhile will race on the windward-leeward course set just upwind of the starting area.
In this way, the starting sequence is controlled by one team, and yet it also allows racing to proceed on two separate courses to help keep traffic to a minimum and leave some lanes of clear air available to all but the fastest boats. This is an ambitious plan, and requires excellent coordination in the Race Committee team.
“We think this will be a good way to manage a crowd of this size and caliber,” says Race Committee chairman Alfredo Ricci. “And I have a very capable team to work with here, so I am confident we can give some great racing to this fleet.”
Another feature, depending on the strength of the internet connection in the course area, will be to have results from both classes be uploaded to the event website as soon as possible, and then sent out on social media outlets such as Twitter. Race managers will also make an effort to announce the top ten results on VHF radio to the fleet. This transmission of results is an important feature to the sponsors and spectators given the wide spread of time allowance in handicap between the slowest and fastest boats in both fleets.
Ricci and his Race Committee will put their plans to the test in the Practice Race tomorrow, where starts are planned for each class, along with a complete race, if race conditions allow.
And to reduce the typical crowding and late nights in the Protest room, Arbitration will be offered at this year’s Worlds. This works as follows: whenever there is a protest for a breach of the rules of Part 2 (the right of way rules), the parties will first be required to tell their stories to the Arbitrator (International Judge and Umpire Tom Rinda), who then gives an offer of a 30% scoring penalty to the party he thinks may have broken a rule. The offending party can then accept this penalty and the case is closed, or they can opt to go to a full hearing, where the Jury is empowered to disqualify the boat they determine is in the wrong.
With over 50 entries in each class, organizers feel this possible 50+ point penalty will be sufficient incentive to protesting parties to avoid hearings and accept the decisions of Rinda, and thereby keep the hearing rooms a little less busy than they normally are in such a high profile competitive event.
“Because of the size of this fleet,” says Rinda, “we do not have the resources to do on-water umpiring like we have in one-on-one match racing or at the 52 SuperSeries, so this is the next best thing. We hope it catches on like we have had at other major regattas in the USA.”
Another feature of ORCi World Championships is the awarding of Corinthian trophies to the top-scoring non-professional teams in each class. Using the ISAF Classification system, entries must have crews who are certified by ISAF to be amateur sailors. The final count is still being determined, but well over half the entries in each class are expected to be eligible for this trophy.
But before the serious business of racing starts, there are some important social events to attend: tonight is a wine and seafood tasting contest presented by Fabrizio Gatta, followed by a concert hosted by the Teatro Delle Muse and Friends of the Opera in the Piazza di Marina Dorica, and is open to all.
Dobbs Davis (ORC Media Contributor)