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Mike Richards performs a stern overhang measurement. Photo: James Boyd/www.sailingintelligence.com


If you are having your boat measured for IRC in the Hamble area of the UK, the chances are the kindly gentleman wielding the tape measure and calipers will be Mike Richards. But don’t let his friendly disposition mislead you: nothing will slip through the net unnoticed because Richards has spent the majority of his life on the same side of the fence as you.


Richards’s lengthy career as a keelboat sailor and project manager included working for former RORC Admiral Chris Little on his various Bounder yachts. He was also with brokers Ancasta and Farr International when they were selling boats such as the Farr 45, the Beneteau 40.7 and the DK 46. During a stint at Ovington Boats he project managed the build of Mumm 30s and the Farr 50 sisterships Bear of Britain and Peter Harrison’s Chernikeeff.


He built Tim Costello’s successful and much-campaigned Mills 40 Commodores’ Cupper, Tiamat, before running Mike Bartholomew’s


Tokoloshes – first the King 40, then the GP42. Except for the one-designs, vital to all these projects was IRC optimisation.


Given his background in running and developing racing boats, it came as a shock when three years ago Mike Richards jumped the fence, enticed by Mike Urwin, then Technical Director of the RORC Rating Office, to join his elite measurement team.


“It’s basically a pretty good Rule,” says Richards of IRC, his background in the sport having spanned IRC, CHS and IMS. “It doesn’t have the nuances that the ORC Rule does, but the measurement is very simple and it is easy to see what it is trying to achieve.”


For the most part getting an IRC certificate doesn’t require a boat to be measured; it is not needed to obtain a Standard IRC certificate. In the UK,


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