4 hands

Shorthanded Racing is here – 4 crew plus Autohelm

The ORCV is pleased to announce that it will be introducing short handed racing with autohelm with a maximum of 4 crew as part of the main fleet in all offshore races next season 'Four + Autohelm'.

This development reflects the findings of research into race participation conducted by ORCV earlier this year. More details on the research and related initiatives will be released in a future article but the decision on short handed racing reflects two key findings.

First, in an open question on “matters considered when deciding whether to participate in an ocean race”, time and cost rate a mention but the two overwhelming considerations were:-

  • The availability of suitably experienced crew and
  • The suitability of the yacht for the event, with emphasis on competitiveness against the expected fleet.

Skippers were also asked if they would be interested in, or support, short handed crews racing with Autohelm under normal handicaps in the main fleet:-

  • 76% of the respondents expressed an interest in “4 crew plus autohelm racing”, including some who would continue to race “fully crewed” but saw the concept as being a positive for fleet size.
  • 25% were not interested in the idea but only one skipper was negative.

The underlying philosophy behind the decision is that four suitably experienced crew in an autohelm equipped yacht can maintain effective watches and are, for the majority of the fleet, competitive against fully crewed boats.

Double handed racing will continue to be supported by ORCV. In some ways an extreme test of seamanship, two handed racing is an altogether more challenging venture for the crew and is one where careful attention to boat preparation and set up may be a precondition for competitive success.

On a technical note, the use of autohelms is regulated via NOR conditions regarding use of stored power. Neither rating amendments nor declarations are required under the IRC and AMS rating rules…. all you need is an autohelm and they are getting better all the time!