CRW 2021

ORC Explained

CRW2016 offshoreCeladon

  1. Why is Sperry Charleston Race Week making a change from PHRF to ORC?
    Race Week has always tried to provide the best possible racing for its participants. For those racing under handicap systems, we feel the ORC system provides the most fair and competitive scoring possible given the diverse boat types that are attracted to this event. The ORC system is the largest measurement-based system in the world, serving thousands of boat types and nearly 10,000 boat owners, and we’re pleased to be one of the first regattas in the U.S. to offer this system that has proven so successful elsewhere.

  2. What is better about ORC than other rating rule choices?
    Because ORC’s features are accessible online, and because they’re objective and consistent for all users and scientifically developed, flexible and affordable, we feel this system is the best choice for Race Week competitors. ORC’s features are proven and we feel they fit well with the needs and expectations of our handicap classes.

  3. ORC ratings seem to vary depending on the race course type and the conditions. Why is this, and how will the race committee know what choice to make among the scoring options?
    The power of the ORC system to provide fair racing is in its recognition of the differences in performance potential among boats of  different designs, with ratings that change according to course type and wind speed. Single rating number approaches simply cannot offer that kind of versatility. So, we’re trading simplicity for fairness.

    The two basic types of courses are windward-leeward and non-windward-leeward, which are described on ORC certificates as Coastal/Long Distance. ORC Triple Number scoring recognizes wind speeds as either Low (<9 knots), Medium (9-14 knots) or High (15+ knots), which will be signaled by the Race Committee – the Sailing Instructions for the ORC courses will give further details.

  4. Can the scoring be in Time on Time or Time on Distance?
    ORC ratings can be either Time on Time or Time on Distance – the Sailing Instructions will specify which will be used for scoring at Race Week. Once the ratings are received for all boats, tables will be provided online to estimate corrected time allowances among competitors for each course type and wind speed.

  5. Does ORC have a favorite boat type or bias towards particular designs?
    ORC can model the performance of nearly every style of monohull, from sportboats to superyachts, and by providing a range of ratings there is no tendency to favor a particular boat style or type as may be typical in single-number systems. The ORC Rule has been developed based on its test fleet of some 1,500 designs, most of which are typical production boats seen all over the world, including the U.S. In ORC world championship regattas, podium finishers are typically of both racer and cruiser-racer boat types, with the top teams being those that sailed the best on their racecourse rather than those who had the most “favorable” ratings.

  6. Is this a publicly-accessible rule system – for example, can I see other certificates besides my own and run tests to see what changes can affect my rating, etc?
    ORC has a philospohy of transparency, where all rules and formulations are documented and published, and input is sought from the users of the system for rule improvement.

    The system website – - has these resources available online, and through the ORC’s unique Sailor Serivces system, anyone with a registered log-in (available free on request at may access the ORC’s searchable database of some 95,000 measurement records to request copies of certificates, edit measurements to run test certificates, get performance polars in an ORC Speed Guide, or get Target Speed reports for use in windward-leeward racing. No other system has this level of transparency and access available to its users.

  7. Are there other benefits to having an ORC certificate?
    With an ORC certificate issued by US Sailing, a copy gets automatically uploaded to the Sailor Services system where “what-if” tests can be run (such as “what will the rating change be if we increase our spinnaker pole length, or increase our crew weight, or put on a roller-furling headsail or a Code Zero,” etc.), or a Target Speed or Speed Guide report can be ordered and delivered to you by email.

    Other benefits include the fact that this certificate can be used anywhere else ORC scoring is offered at other races and regattas.

  8. Where do I apply for a certificate?
    The primary portal for getting an ORC certificate is at, and this is sent to US Sailing for processing.

  9. This application requests a lot of information I’m not familiar with nor know how to access. How do I get the information needed to complete the application?
    If your boat has been measured for any rating rule system and it has not changed at all since it was measured, input the information on that certificate. Leave blank anything you do not know and the rating officer at US Sailing will help complete this for you based on the organization’s database of measurements from similar boats. Get your sailmaker to provide you the measurements of your largest main, headsail and spinnaker that you will plan to race with. And provide an estimate of the weight of your crew you plan to race with: more crew means you’ll be rated faster in heavy air upwind, but also maybe slower downwind in light air. Those factors are part of the calculation. The principle is this: the more information you provide that is credible and accurate, the more accurate your rating will be.

  10. What about measurements: if I choose to measure my boat will I get a better rating? And what’s the difference between an ORC Club and an ORC International certificate?
    A boat that is fully measured by a certified measurer qualifies to receive an ORC International (or ORCi) certificate, which has the most accurate rating for the boat. ORC Club certificates can be issued without having measurements, but the data on whatever is not measured will rely on the expertise of the rating office to supply default figures corresponding to what will produce the fastest rating for that boat type. For example, if your mast is not weighed, a default figure is used that corresponds to the lightest possible spar that could be used in your boat. The principle is that there will be no advantage for not having your boat measured.
    For rating and scoring purposes, ORCi and ORC Club certificates are compatible and can be used in the same event except for ORC championships where ORCi certificates are generally required.

  11. I like the idea of getting measured to get a better rating: how can I do this?
    If you are traveling to Race Week from outside Charleston, contact Dobbs Davis at and he may be able to help directly or refer you to a local measurer to help.

  12. How much will it cost, how long does it take to get a certificate, how long is it valid, and where else can I use these ratings?
    The fee for ORC Club certificates is $100 for US Sailing members, and is payable to US Sailing at this link: ORCi certificates cost $8/foot with data provided by an approved measurer. Certificates are good for the entire calendar year plus a month or two into the following year, depending on the regatta. Processing time from receipt of application is 5-10 days, and can be expedited within 5 days for a higher processing fee.
    Besides its use in 40 other countries, more and more races and regattas in North America are using the ORC system, so your ORC certificate is portable from Key West to New York YC, and from San Diego to Friday Harbor, WA in the US, throughout Canada from Vancouver to Quebec, and starting now also in the Caribbean as well.