6 things you need to know about Corinthian Spirit class racing

It will attract a wider variety of yachts

Turning a superyacht into a raceboat is a daunting proposition. On top of the inevitable equipment servicing and replacement, you’ve got to fly in the manpower to handle that huge expanse of spinnaker.

Now there’s an alternative, developed to broaden racing’s appeal to those who may have felt it beyond them. The Superyacht Racing Association and the Offshore Racing Congress recently introduced the Corinthian Spirit Class, which made its debut at the 2017 St Barths Bucket (pictured above). We explain why this is a significant development.

Photo: Jeff Brown / Breed Media

It makes regattas easier to enter

With streamlined access to a superyacht handicap and a reduced certificate fee from the Offshore Racing Congress, the new Corinthian Spirit class is expected to attract a mixture of newcomers and regatta veterans.

Kate Branagh, event manager for the Superyacht Cup Palma, said: “We know yacht owners who love the superyacht racing scene, but aren't all about the racing. Providing them with an alternative that doesn't require excessive race preparation has already been very well received."

The 37.5 metre Fitzroy yacht Escapade (pictured above) raced in the Corinthian Spirit class at the 2017 St Barths Bucket, and captain Guy Waddilove added: “The introduction of the Corinthian Spirit class was an excellent initiative and succeeded perfectly in what it set out to do — i.e. bring new owners into the existing racing fleets.”

It minimises the need for extra crewmembers

Another key aspect of the Corinthian Spirit class is the modified eligibility criteria. There are no spinnakers allowed and jibs can only be flied on furlers or hanks, meaning that the need to augment your crew or optimise the yacht for racing is kept to a minimum. What’s more, the new class allows organisers to assist entrants with any logistical needs.

Photo: Jeff Brown / Breed Media

It doesn’t compromise on safety

Despite all these changes, the Superyacht Racing Association’s emphasis on safe racing remains unchanged — nothing in the Corinthian Spirit class regulations will compromise this crucial priority.

The standard Racing Rules Appendix will be invoked, with a minimum separation of 40 metres, single-file starts and a VHF safety channel. Each yacht will also require an RRS-Safety Afterguard Member, but regatta organisers can assist entrants in finding a suitably experienced individual.

The 42.92 metre Vitters sailing yacht Koo (pictured above) is another yacht to have entered the 2017 St Barths Bucket under the Corinthian Class.

It will make for close, fun racing

The Corinthian Spirit class has also been designed to provide an enjoyable, competitive experience for all regatta entrants. With regular handicap adjustments applied between races based on observed speed and yacht manoeuvring characteristics, the emphasis is firmly on performance.

As a result, all well sailed entrants should be capable of a podium finish, regardless of their pre-regatta expenditure or level of preparation. Peter Craig, executive board member of the Superyacht Racing Association, added: “An important part of our mission is to enhance the enjoyment of superyacht owners and this initiative is all about that. The expected fleet building will not only be good for yacht owners, but the industry as well".

Photo: Jeff Brown / Breed Media

It will be used at major regattas this year

At the time of writing, it has been confirmed that the Corinthian Spirit class will be used at the Superyacht Cup Palma and the Candy Store Cup — giving owners a chance to try their hand at this new class of regatta racing on both sides of the Atlantic.

It has also proven to be a big success at the 2017 St Barths Bucket. Ben Duxbury, RRS officer on the 56 metre Perini Navi sloop Bayesian (pictured above), was full of praise, adding: “The Corinthian class is a well-conceived initiative that provides an entry-level introduction to prestige superyacht racing. From our perspective the owner and his wife enjoyed their first ever racing experience and vowed to come back, so that's a success by any measure!”

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