Rating Rules and Handicapping Systems
US Sailing administers a number of different rating and handicapping systems that allow equitable racing for diverse fleets. Please be sure to consult your Notice of Race and Race Organizing Committee to find the rating requirements for your race. All rating assessments require US Sailing Membership- join today and get your rating!
We fairly administer all rules and want you to find the one that works best for your fleet. Please contact us if you have any questions about which rule is right for you. A description of the rules administered by this office and their associated products are described below.
International Rating Certificate (IRC)
Who Owns It – Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL).
Why Did It Start – IRC was originally developed as the Channel Handicapping System to serve as a simplified measurement rule to suit cruiser/racers that were seen as disenfranchised by the high performance racers of the International Offshore Rule (IOR) that had come to dominate racing in the UK and France in the 1980s.
How It Works – IRC is a rating system which classifies a broad range of cruising and racing ballasted monohull keel boats for competition. Relevant measurement data corresponds with the Universal Measurement System. More information on measurement may be found on our Services page. Single figure allowances are based on time via a combination of mathematical formulae with some very limited human interpretation. Ratings are reported as Time-on-Time Correction Factors.
Who Uses It – IRC is used worldwide for a variety of inshore and offshore events including Cowes Week, the Marseille European Championship, the Fastnet Race, and the Sydney-Hobart Race.
Where We Fit In – US Sailing is the IRC Rule Authority in the United States charged with the processing and issuing of all certificates in the United States.
Endorsed Certificate – Data inputs are provided from a verified source. The primary sources for endorsed data are US Sailing Official Yacht Measurers. This is the most accurate rating the rule can provide. To request official measurement, please contact the US Sailing Offshore office.
Non-Endorsed Certificate – Data may be based upon owner measured/declared information, designer data, sister-ship data, or similar sources. A US Sailing Official Measurer is not required.
One Design Certificate – The IRC One-Design application can only be used for those boat classes that are designated IRC One-Design classes. Boats rated as one-design must comply with their class rules when racing.
Short-handed Certificate – Short-handed Certificates are for those who participate in events for no more than two crew. The Short-handed Certificate may only vary from the primary certificate with respect to mainsail widths, headsail dimensions, single furling headsail allowance, SPA, STL/SPL, spinnaker pole/bowsprit, moveable ballast, and/or variable ballast. See Information on Short-Handed IRC Certificates for further details.
Amended Certificate – For boats currently holding a year valid certificate, any changes to the configuration must be reported and a new certificate reflecting those changes issued. For Endorsed certificates, relevant parameters may need to be measured.
Trial Certificate – These certificates provide information as to the rating a boat would receive for planned or projected changes. A Trial Certificate is NOT valid for racing. Please review IRC Policy for Trial Certificates.
Copy Certificates – Copies of currently valid IRC certificates are available through the Offshore office. The fee is $25/certificate for the first 10 purchased during a calendar year, $50 each for the second 10 and $100 each for the third 10. No more than 6 copies may be purchased for any one boat class/model per year. No more than 30 total may be purchased per year.
Fill in all cells and answer all of the questions. Incomplete applications will delay processing. All applications should be emailed to IRC@ussailing.org in Excel format. Faxed, emailed pdf, jpeg or mailed paper will not be accepted or processed. Save the file with the BOAT NAME as part of the file name.
Payment: To pay certificate fees with a credit card, call 401-342-7900. Follow the instructions on the application.Updated security procedures at US Sailing no longer permit credit card payment information to be placed on IRC applications or transmitted via email.
- 2018 IRC New Application USA
- 2018 IRC Revalidation Application USA
- For annual certificate renewal.
- Also used for change of ownership when the certificate was last valid in a prior year. The Re-registration Application below is used for change of ownership when a boat has a valid, current year certificate.
- 2018 IRC New One Design Application USA
- If you wish to rate “out of class” please use the New Certificate Application.
- 2018 IRC Amendment Application USA
- Please fill only those cells that have parameters/dimensions that are to be amended.
- 2018 IRC Trial Application USA
- Please fill only those cells that have parameters/dimensions that are to be trialed.
- 2018 IRC Re-registration Application USA
- Used for change of ownership when a boat has a valid, current year certificate.
- 2018 IRC New Short-handed Application USA
- A Short-handed certificate can only be issued to boats holding current year valid primary, i.e., “full crew”, certificates. See Information on Short-handed IRC Certificates for further details.
- 2018 IRC Revalidation Short-handed Application USA
- 2018 IRC Rule
- 2018 IRC Rule Changes
- RORC web site– Technical information and measurement drawings
- IRC 2018 Yearbook
- IRC Owner Measurement Preparation Guide
- IRC Aft Rigging Types
- IRC Treatment of Lead in Keel Fins with Bulbs – Types 10 to 12
- IRC Single Furling Headsail Allowance
- 2018 US SAILING Prescription to IRC Rule 21
- IRC Valid List
Offshore Racing Congress (ORC)
Who Owns It– Offshore Racing Congress (ORC)
Why Did It Start– The ORC was founded in 1969 by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Cruising Club of America (CCA) to develop a handicap standard for the international community. Since then, the ORC has supported several rules including the IOR, IMS, and, most recently, the ORC Rule. The ORC Rule was structured in the late 2000’s to promote safe design practices and to fairly rate a broad range of designs, including cruiser/racer and modern race boats. The ORC Rule is recognized by World Sailing as an International Rating System. Learn more about the history of the ORC.
How It Works– The ORC Rule relies on a Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) based on standard measurements defined by the Universal Measurement System (UMS). More information on measurement may be found on our Services page. The rating calculator outputs a multi-number rating, suitable for various scoring options and course configurations. While ORC Club and ORC International certificates differ with respect to measurement criteria, they rely on the same calculation routine. As a result, Club and International certificates may be scored consistently with each other. The ORC VPP is updated annually and all rules, regulations, certificates and VPP documentation are freely available to the racing community. ORC scoring options include Time-on-Distance, Time-on-Time, Triple Number, and Performance Curve Scoring, and other custom options.
Who Uses It– ORC is globally recognized in local, national, and international races making it the most popular measurement-based rating system in the world. With primary interests among European race circuits, the annual ORC World Championships draw international attention to the rating system. The ORC has been recently featured in several areas of the US, including Key West Race Week and the Galveston Bay races in Texas, Charleston Race Week, and local races in Chesapeake Bay and Biscayne Bay.
Where We Fit In– US Sailing Offshore is charged with acquiring, processing, and archiving all data to issue ORC Club and ORC International certificates to boats based in the United States.
ORC International– ORCi is based on a complete boat measurement carried out by a US Sailing Official Yacht Measurer as defined by the Universal Measurement System. This is the most accurate rating the rule system offers. These certificates are intended for use in World, Continental, Regional, and National level races. To request official measurement, please contact the US Sailing Offshore office.
ORC Club– Club certificates do not require verified measurement. Instead, owners are allowed to declare select measurements while other parameters are assigned by the rating office. Where input data is lacking, the rating office will apply estimates or default values that err to a faster rating. The more data submitted based on measurements, the more accurate the rating. Sail Measurement Certificates must be provided and can be completed by your local sail maker. ORC Club certificates are intended for club-level racing.
ORC One Design– For specific classes, ORCi and ORC Club certificates are available in a standardized configuration. All data affecting a boat’s rating are standardized based on One Design class rules or past measurements taken reflecting close tolerances. No measurements are needed for these certificates, provided that there is proof supplied to the rating office that the boat is complying with its Class measurements. Any configuration change shall invalidate the ORC One Design certificate and a new standard ORC International or ORC Club certificate must be issued.
ORC Super Yacht – Handicapping widely disparate Super yachts represents one of the most formidable challenges any rule authority can undertake. A Super yacht fleet typically includes schooners, sloops and ketches of varying lengths and with displacements ranging from 50 to 600 tons and the huge disparity in yacht type, size and shape is exceptionally difficult to handicap.
For more: ORC Super yacht
Amendment– For boats currently holding a year valid certificate, any changes to the configuration must be reported and a new certificate reflecting those changes issued. For ORCi certificates, relevant parameters may need to be remeasured.
Copy Certificates– ORC provides free access to all measurements and any valid certificate issued by any rating office in the world since 2009 through the free ORC Sailor Services database. Measurements and copies of certificates in pdf format are available at no charge without limit. Copy certificates are NOT valid for racing.
Trial– To understand how a potential modification would impact a boat’s rating, trials may be ordered through the Sailor Services system on the ORC website. There is no limit to the number of trial certificates issued in the ORC Sailor Services system. Trial certificates are NOT valid for racing.
Hydrostatics/Stability Data Sheet– Understanding the limitations of stability is important to every boat owner, but this information is also useful to offshore race organizers interested in defining relevant safety standards in their entry requirements.
For more: ORC Stability Datasheet Explanation
Speed Guide– The ORC Speed Guide uses the ORC VPP to develop polar diagrams for your yacht. These diagrams are an asset to understanding relationships between performance, sail selection, wind speed, and wind angle. Speed Guides are available through Sailor Services on the ORC website.
Offshore Racing Rule (ORR)
Who Owns It– Offshore Racing Association (ORA)
Why Did It Start– The Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) grew out of a desire by North American sailors who felt the International Measurement System (IMS) was no longer meeting their needs. The ORA was founded in 2004 by the Cruising Club of America (CCA), Chicago Yacht Club (CYC), and the Transpacific Yacht Club (TPYC). Learn more about the history of the ORR.
How It Works– The Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) used by ORR was developed in the mid-1990’s s as a refinement of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Pratt Institute project that was the foundation of the IMS. Since its inception, the VPP has been heavily modified as the result of annual updates reflecting the latest technology and scientific research. The rule relies on measurements of all the speed affecting variables required to competently predict reliable handicaps. More information on measurement may be found on our Services page. The ORR outputs multiple ratings suitable for different course configurations and wind mixes. Race organizing authorities may use any of these standard ratings or may recommended “course mixes” that represent predominant conditions for their events for a customized rating.
Who Uses It-The ORR is the most popular measurement rule used in North America and is the rule of choice for such events as: Chicago to Mackinac, Bayview to Mackinac , Newport-Bermuda Race, Puerto Vallarta Race, Rolex Big Boat Series, Transpacific Yacht Race, and many more. ORR also has Regional Championships for the East Coast, Great Lakes, and West Coast.
Where We Fit In– US Sailing Offshore is charged with acquiring, processing, and archiving all data to issue certificates to boats based in the United States.
Fully Measured– A complete measurement must be provided by a US Sailing Official Yacht Measurer. This is the most accurate rating the rule system offers. High profile ocean races, such as the Newport-Bermuda Race, often require fully measured certificates. To request official measurement, please contact the US Sailing Offshore office.
Partially Measured– For Partially Measured certificates, owners are allowed to declare a subset of the complete measurement, while other parameters are assigned by the rating office. Where input data is lacking, the rating office will apply estimates from sister-ship data that err to a faster rating. Sail Measurement Certificates must be provided and can be completed by your local sail maker. Partially measured certificates provide the easiest access to an ORR certificate and are popularly used for distance races and race series.
ORR-EZ– Using a simplified measurement profile based on existing measurement databases of production boats and simple sail measurements, ORR EZ offers entry level access to the measurement rule. The VPP output is reviewed by ORA’s National Technical Rating Committee and relevant subjective corrections may be assessed. ORR-EZ is designed for entry level and local competition.
Amendment– For boats currently holding a year valid certificate, any changes to the configuration must be reported and a new certificate reflecting those changes issued. For Fully Measured certificates, relevant parameters may need to be remeasured by a US Sailing Official Measurer.
Copy Certificates– Copies of currently valid ORR certificates are available through the Offshore office. Please reference US Sailing ORR Policy for specific guidelines.
Trial– To understand how a potential modification would impact a boats rating, trials may be order through the US Sailing Offshore office. A Trial Certificate is NOT valid for racing.
Performance Package– Providing detailed polars and specialized performance information, this product available from the ORA is delivered as an Excel spreadsheet compatible with on-board navigation equipment and software packages.
For more: ORR Performance Packages
ORR Revalidation notices with activation information have been transmitted via email. If you have not received this information, please contact the Offshore office.
Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF)
Who Owns It– United States Sailing Association sanctions regional authorities to administer the national rule and develop regional by-laws.
Why Did It Start– Loosely based on the “Arbitrary Fleet” of the West Coast of the 1940’s, PHRF emerged in the early 1980’s as an empirically based handicapping system to give sailors easier access to a handicap than afforded by measurement rules.
How It Works– PHRF handicaps are assigned by individuals or committees associated with specific fleets. Handicaps are assigned to a given production class considering predominant local conditions and the handicapper’s experience in handicapping similar boats. These ratings are based on observed performance and any requisite adjustments generally become evident after 5-10 races have been sailed. Scoring options include Time-on-Distance or Time-on-Time.
||Heavy Air or all off the wind
|600||Light air or all windward work|
TCF = ——————
B + PHRF
Who Uses It– Historically used for USA casual fleet racing, PHRF has grown be be accepted as a division in several major national races, as well.
Where We Fit In– The US Sailing PHRF Committee is charged with the development and maintenance of the national rule, including the national appeals process. While handicaps are assigned locally, US Sailing provides certain standards and guidelines to maintain a degree of consistency between fleets. Additionally, as a member benefit, US Sailing develops the PHRF Fleet Handicap Book– a compilation of yacht base handicaps by class from more than 60 PHRF Fleets throughout North America listing over 5000 classes. The Offshore Office also offers administrative and handicapping services to participating PHRF Fleets. The term “Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF)” is protected by copy-rightfor use by US Sailing and sanctioned regional fleets.
PHRF certificates are assigned by each local fleet. Be sure to check your Notice of Race to ensure you are certified by the appropriate fleet. Basic hull, sail, and rig details are owner declared and ratings assigned by class.
- US Sailing services applications for:
- National Appeals Process
- PHRF Fleet Directory
- PHRF of the Middle Atlantic
- Hawaii Yacht Racing Association
- Starting a PHRF Fleet
- MEMBERS’ ACCESS: PHRF Handicaps Book
- MEMBERS’ ACCESS: PHRF Valid List
- MEMBERS’ ACCESS: PHRF Class Lookup
- Predominant Regional Sailing Conditions
- Golf Handicapping for PHRF
- Graphic Display of Imputed Handicaps
- Analysis Tools of Imputed Handicaps
- Time-On-Time Scoring for PHRF
Portsmouth Yardstick (D-PN)
Who Owns It– United States Sailing Association
Why Did It Start– Originally introduced in Britain in the 1940’s, the Dixie Inland Yacht Racing Association (DIYRA) adapted the PY system in the 1960’s to develop the Dixie-Portsmouth Number (D-PN) system. Oversight of the new system was ultimately transferred to US Sailing, then United States Yacht Racing Union, in 1973. It is primarily used for rating smaller boats, including catamarans.
How It Works– The rating assessment relies exclusively on statistical analysis of national race results. Race results are plotted against Measured Ratings- a formulation of basic parameters such as waterline length, sail area, and displacement- to obtain a correlation between performance and MR for various wind speeds. Certain allowances are also available to account for common boat modifications. Conversion recommendations for IOR, MORC, and PHRF ratings are available as well. Ratings are reported as Time-on-Time Correction Factors. More details are highlighted in the Portsmouth Yardstick Handbook.
Who Uses It– Popularly used to rate centerboard boats, smaller keelboats, and multihulls, Portsmouth Yardstick is often used for local fleet races around the country.
Where We Fit In– US Sailing Portsmouth Numbers Committee is charged with the maintenance of the rule including compiling race results submitted by supporting clubs and developing the tables of modification factors for all classes.
What’s Required – Certain basic boat parameters must be known to calculate a boat’s MR and may be declared by the owner supported by manufacturer or designer specifications.
Applications– The Portsmouth Yardstick relies on accurate reports of race results from clubs like yours. Become a Supporting Club today!
Fees– Access to all Portsmouth Yardstick handicapping tables is free to all sailors.