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Press Release on Offshore Handicapping Systems

November 5, 2001

The following is an advance copy of a US SAILING press release that will be distributed later this week. The release, published just before the ISAF meetings in Lisbon, Portugal starting Saturday, Nov. 10, states US SAILING’s current position regarding support of the IMS rule and advocates an offshore handicap classes committee at ISAF which would provide a “level playing field” for all handicapping systems.
–The Editors

In the deliberations about international offshore racing systems and handicapping classes, the United States Sailing Association supports two basic objectives:

1. Provide an environment in which the International Measurement System can continue to thrive.

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2. Establish a level playing field for all major offshore rating systems and handicapping classes.

US SAILING supports the initiation of an ISAF Offshore Handicap Classes Committee. We believe the committee should welcome as offshore handicap classes all of the existing significant offshore handicapping and rating systems. In that regard, we support including IMS, IRC, IOR, ORC Club, Danish Handicap, Americap, Performance Rating Tool, and other systems, including the handicapping systems that are used in offshore multihull racing.

US SAILING developed the Measurement Handicapping System and later provided that system to the Offshore Racing Council to administer as the re-named International Measurement System. The ORC has reflected this agreement, noting that the ORC manages IMS with the permission of US SAILING. In the period since the ORC assumed administration of IMS, US SAILING has continued to foster abundant research in support of that system. Our investment, as well as our interest, is significant.

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As is true in the one-design world, offshore sailors have many options for offshore handicapping and rating. A well-conceived ISAF Offshore Handicap Classes committee can provide an arena for all of those options, just as ISAF’s Classes Committee does for one-design classes. We believe that IMS should participate in that environment. We believe that is the responsible choice for the future.

Along with IMS and IRC, there are other significant offshore handicapping and rating systems. US SAILING believes that all of those systems should be included within the ISAF Offshore Handicap Classes Committee in order to represent adequately the plurality and variety that exist for sailors. ISAF should not appear either to endorse one or two systems over others or to create an uneven playing field. The choice of systems should be up to the sailors and not be unduly influenced by ISAF.

Each offshore class has its own administrative structure. Performance handicapping is a grassroots system that includes more than 30,000 sailors in the US, Canada, Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and other countries. They are the largest offshore rating constituency in the world. Performance Rating Tool, administered by US SAILING, benefits all Performance handicap sailors. Americap, also administered by US SAILING, will have a participation of 1,000 boats within the next year. Included are sailors from Canada and Bermuda as well as the US. As is true of these systems as well as IMS, ORC Club, IRC, and Danish Handicap, each has its own management structure. Each also has its own merits.

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In order for the ISAF Offshore Handicap Classes Committee to represent fully and equitably the choices that are available to offshore sailors, we believe the committee must include among the systems it welcomes all of options that are available internationally to offshore sailors.

Within these guidelines, ISAF will continue to meet its mission of serving all sailors. The offshore sailing world will also benefit from a structure that represents and supports common interests as well as healthy variety.

Contact: Dan Nowlan, US SAILING Offshore Director 401-683-0800

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