Mike Urwin, RORC Technical Director, has praised the ISA's ECHO handicap system which is run in tandem with IRC.
Referring to it as ‘The Irish solution’ he commented “In Ireland, all races are dual scored under both IRC and ECHO, the Irish national performance handicap system. ECHO is then ‘managed’ to ensure that the keen racers don’t win under both systems. It works – Ireland has the largest number of boats racing per capita, per mile of coastline, or any other way you measure it.”
Urwin contends that this allows those new to racing to compete in a larger, mixed fleet with a handicap that is adjusted to reflect their performance. As they become more experienced and their handicap increases, those sailors become less interested in the handicap result and more interested in getting an IRC result. It encourages newcomers, (especially if they beat the local favourite!) and produces better racing, as Urwin explains:
"Instead of splitting the fleet into 'club' and 'IRC', everybody races together with class splits based on speed if there are enough entries. Everyone gets a result in the handicap class, and those with an IRC certificate also get a result in the IRC class. Both classes have the same status on the noticeboard and the same prizes."
Read more on the RORC website.