I did attend the MBSA meeting last night and sat through the 2 hour presentation and Q&A session with ORA. I would recommend if you have an opportunity to go to one of their talks like this that you attend with an open mind, so thank you to MBSA for having them come in and talk and explain ORR-EZ.
First, neither Mr. Teeters nor Mr. Johnson is overselling the capabilities of ORR-EZ. Their process for developing the initial VPP is, I believe, technically sound. Their process will likely accurately predict the difference in performance between similar boats; say a J-24, Kirby 25 and a Merit 25. MBSA appears to be going to a 6 number system that accounts for high, medium and low wind speeds as well as W/L and random leg courses instead of the single number PHRF system. I believe that the process described by ORA will accurately predict the performance differences between similar boats over those conditions. I have sailed for over 50 years, raced for 45 years and been an aerospace engineer for 35 years so I believe I am qualified to make this judgement.
That said, there are aspects that I don’t like about ORR-EZ, specifically the “black box” aspect of the rule. I did a conversion from fractional symmetric to fractional asymmetric on my boat 2 years ago. All of the impacts on my PHRF rating were spelled out on the PHRF-NE site so I could know before making the decision to change what the impact on my rating would be. Maybe the PHRF penalties for the conversion were fair, maybe they weren't, but at least I knew before I committed the cost and effort what the impact would be. Under ORR-EZ I would have to pay for a test certificate to find that out.
Again I will point out that I am coming from the perspective of the PHRF-D fleet. There are no custom performance racers built for this fleet. If there is a boat that is under 20 years old in this fleet I would be shocked. Were the guys sailing the boat we have as best we can on a limited budget. Going from a $35 PHRF certificate to a $100 ORR-EZ is 2 entry fees or wrist bands for the crew at the Ted Hood regatta. A $400 ORC certificate means I might as well just stay home. If you “Grand Prix” races don’t want us dinosaurs out on the course with you, just say so and stop raising fees to keep us out.
I do not believe that is what MBSA is trying to do. I do believe that they are trying to provide as fair a playing field as possible for as many as possible. I also believe that Mr. Teeters and Mr. Johnson have the same goal with ORR-EZ.
On the implementation side, it is not clear if there is a plan to phase in just one system so that at least every MBSA sanctioned event is scored under just ORR-EZ. I think it would be good to have a plan to move to 1 rating system in 2 to 3 years.
I think it would be helpful to those of us who are unfamiliar with ORR-EZ for ORA to publish the equivalent of a PHRF valid list on their website so that we can see how ORR-EZ treats existing boats allows those of us with orphans a point of reference. Long term it would be nice if they could extract a set of guidelines regarding common modifications the way PHRF does. Perhaps this could be as simple as providing a sample rating certificate of a stock J-24 to a J-24 with an asymmetric tacked to the bow and an asymmetric tacked to a 130% sprit.