How Do I Start Racing?

I’m thinking of going yacht racing, how do I start?

So you’ve decided that it’s time to try racing, either in a local race or in an open event. It can all seem a bit daunting once you start looking at the paperwork! DON’T be tempted to ignore it all and hope for the best, as you may end up not being able to take part after all, or even worse fall foul of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Racing your boat will involve putting in the entry, compliance with Special (ie. safety) Regulations and anything else stipulated in the Notice of Race, and a handicap or rating certificate unless you will be racing in a One Design Class. Of course there are also the issues of familiarising yourself with the Racing Rules of Sailing, and getting yourself and the boat to the start line in a suitable condition, but this article will not go into any details about preparation of your boat (or yourself); it will look solely at the ‘paperwork’ side of things.

  • Choose the event you want to do.
  • Obtain the NOTICE OF RACE – it will usually be published on the organising club’s website.

Notice of Race

Read it through thoroughly and highlight relevant sections.

  • Check the requirements for a rating or handicap.
  • Check deadline dates for sending in the entry and the rating/handicap. Being late is likely to cost you money!
  • Check whether there are any requirements for a Stability Index (STIX) number or minimum Safety & Stability (SSS) number for the race. If there are, and you are not sure whether your boat will comply, contact the Rating Office for advice.
  • Check whether the boat has to comply with a particular Offshore Special Regulations Category (they range from 0 to 5, with 0 being the highest category). You can find the regulations themselves on the World Sailing website:
  • Check whether you need an ‘Endorsed’ IRC certificate for the event. Endorsed means that the measurements and weight have been verified by an official measurer. For most popular production boats the standard hull data is acceptable for Endorsed certificates and it is just the rig and sails that need to be measured.
  • If you DO need an Endorsed certificate, check with the Rating Office to find out what measurement will be required.
  • Check that your boat insurance covers you for racing.

Rating or Handicap

If you need a local handicap, talk to the organising club to arrange it. If you need a Spinlock IRC rating, read on

Standard Hull Data and Previous Certificates

  • Look on the IRC website and see if your boat is listed as having ‘standard hull data’:
  • There is a more up-to-date list incorporated into the new application online form on MyIRC.
  • If your boat’s design is not listed, but it is a standard production boat, contact the RORC Rating Office to find out whether we have standard hull data we can use, tel 01590 677030 or e-mail
  • If your boat is a strict One Design you may be able to use a simplified application form. The IRC approved designs are listed in the online new application form.
  • If your boat is not brand new, find out from the Rating Office whether it has had a rating before. If it has then you should be able to get a copy of the last certificate so you can check the measurements and other information.

Rules and Information

Have a look at the other IRC pages on this website.

Note: If you are entering the Round the Island Race (ISC), Cowes Week (CCC), Panerai British Classic Week, Little Britain Challenge Cup or the Three Peaks Yacht Race, or up to two of these, you can apply for a Single Event Rating, see IRC Single Event Rating.

Applying for an IRC Rating

  • Open MyIRC at and register for an account. You will receive an email with a confirmation link, this may go into your spam/junk folder.
    New Application – for a boat not rated in the last 10 years:
  • Complete the online New Application form. If RORC holds standard hull data they will just need confirmation of which version your boat is (many designs have different keel versions, for instance). You will still need to complete the rig and sail measurements, and all the other detail questions about configuration.
  • You can find simplified rig and sail measurement guidelines on the IRC website
  • For a Standard certificate you do not need official measurement. However, you may have it measured (contact the Rating Office to get the details of your nearest measurer), and we recommend asking your sailmaker for the sail data rather than measuring the sails yourself.
    To renew a certificate:
  • Add your boat to your MyIRC account after you have logged in.
  • Click on ‘revalidation’ and advise any changes to your personal details and/or boat data.
    Single Event Rating:
  • For boats rated in the last10 years Add your Boat and then click on Single Event Rating (SER) next to the boat name.
  • For boats never rated before, click on Single Event Rating.
    Finishing the application:
  • Select Expedited processing if you need your certificate within 5 working days.
  • Payment is taken securely online through Barclays Bank.
  • If you have any problems with the form, or queries about how to proceed, contact the RORC Rating Office, whose friendly and efficient staff will be able to advise you.
  • Your certificate should arrive by e-mail within 21 days if not sooner. There is a guaranteed ‘Expedited’ service which doubles the cost but you will have the certificate within 5 working days.
  • Once issued, your TCC will appear on the online listings which Clubs can check. However, we recommend sending a copy of your certificate to the organising club so that they have all the information. (Note that SER ratings do not appear on the online listing)

And Finally…

  • Read the Sailing Instructions carefully.
  • Get to the start line on time, and enjoy your race!
Royal Ocean Racing Club Rating Office
Seahorse Rating Ltd
Office M, Anchor House, Bath Road Lymington, Hampshire SO41 3YJ UK
+44 (0) 1590 677030