The Offshore Racing Rule – what is it and why is it used?

Newport, RI- June 14, 2015: This Bermuda Race FAQ (the first of several) is provided by the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee with the assistance of the Offshore Racing Association.  The Offshore Racing Rule is available on the ORR web page.  FAQs may be found on the Newport Bermuda website at
The Newport Bermuda Race is dedicated to safe sailing and fair racing:

  • Make sure the competitors are as safe as they can be. That’s why the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee has a rigorous process of inspection and qualifications.
  • Make sure the race is as fair as it can be. That’s why the BROC since 1980 has used a handicapping system that’s based on the actual measurements of each boat, and that predicts the boat’s velocity on all points of sail, in all conditions. The Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) was developed at MIT by the Cruising Club of America and other friends of ocean racing.  VPPs succeeded the Cruising Club of America Rule used to rate the race from 1930 to 1970. 

Today the VPP system we use is the Offshore Racing Rule.  Other races using the ORR include the Transpac, Chicago-Mackinac, New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, Rolex Big Boat Series, Marblehead-Halifax Race, Marion Bermuda Race, and West Coast, Great Lakes, and East Coast Offshore Series.
These races have chosen the ORR because it does the best job in fairly handicapping different boats in a diverse fleet without favoring one type of boat in any condition.

  • ORR does NOT favor old designs, new designs, classics, or high-tech downwind flyers.
  • ORR does NOT reward expensive boat reconfigurations.
  • ORR DOES encourage a well-prepared boat with a capable crew.

ORR says to boat owners, “Get the boat in good shape, set good sails, muster up your best crew, and come racing.  If you sail fast, make the right decisions, and don’t make too many mistakes, you have a shot at winning silver.” 
These are the questions:

  • Why use ORR and not a single number system like PHRF or IRC?
  • Is my yacht eligible for an Offshore Racing Rule (ORR) Certificate?  
  • How can I get an ORR certificate? 
  • How does the race committee score the race? 
  • What is Performance Curve Scoring? 
  • Can I check how we’re doing during the race? 
  • Does ORR favor certain types of yachts? 
  • How can I optimize my yacht for ORR?
  • To be eligible for the Bermuda Race’s combined performance trophies, do I need to race in an ORR division of the Annapolis and Halifax races? 
  • Where else can I race with my ORR certificate? 

Find your answers HERE.

– Talbot Wilson

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