What is an IMS 600?

Peter Bentley investigates the new class for the Admiral’s Cup.
Beneteau 40.7 - an IMS600 contender Amidst the gasps of surprise when it was learned that the Admiral's Cup was moving to Ireland, there was little discussion of the IMS600 class when the new format for the event was announced. Perhaps this was not surprising. Though described as a 'class' the current state of the IMS600 is in reality little more than a set of proposed rules. The man charged with getting the show on the road, Chairman of the ISAF Offshore Classes and Events Committee, Don Genitempo admits as much. "We are still in a fledging state," he says. "The first championship will be in October and we are sort of still feeling our way." The intention is for all boats to have a General Purpose Handicap (GPH) of between 595 and 615 seconds per mile. Results will still be calculated using IMS scoring so it's not a level rating handicap system in the same way that the 'Ton' classes were under IOR. The exact method of scoring will be up to individual race organisers. Within the confines of IMS there are plenty of different ways of doing this. With such a narrow band of handicaps, the extremely complex 'performance curve' scoring that caused so many problems in the 1999 Admiral's Cup will probably not be required. Conversely, a simple single number system similar to that used under IRC runs contrary to the ethos of IMS. Whatever system of scoring is used, it seems unlikely that individual navigators will be able to calculate 'rolling' results as they proceed round the course. Like the Admiral's Cup itself, quite where the class will end up, seems rather unclear. The preamble to the rules initially states that, 'the IMS 600 is an offshore Cruiser/Racer rated under the International Measurement System' but then goes on