The IRC Australian Championship began life as the Australian Offshore Keelboat Championship, determining Australian champions under both the ORCi and IRC ratings, and performance handicapping.
The inaugural IRC Australian Champion was Ray Roberts, who won the event at Coffs Harbour in 2000. The following year, the IRC Australian Championship was won by Nick Chapman at Hamilton Island, then Stephen Ainsworth in Adelaide in 2002, Bob Steel in Melbourne in 2003 and Matt Allen in Sydney in 2004.
After a short hiatus in 2005 and 2006, Audi Australia approached Yachting Australia with a four-event concept that included the major events of Geelong Week, Sydney Harbour Regatta, Sydney Gold Coast Regatta and Hamilton Island Race Week with a vision to tie the four events together with a point score determining a single IRC Australian Champion.
In 2007, this concept, along with Audi Australia’s involvement, saw the event expand significantly with boats racing up and down the eastern seaboard for the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
The event was held each year until 2011, recognising a single winner of the Championship, with approximately 160 boats in the point score with all the events hosting large IRC fleets.
The decision was made in 2011 to recognise three different divisions - IRC Class A, Class B and Class C, with the splits being based on length, hull factor and age of the boat.
A single-event series was established in 2012, with hosting rights to rotate between Queensland, Victoria and NSW. The 2012 event was held as part of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. This saw Marcus Blackmore and his boat, Hooligan, take back-to-back wins to join Rod Jones and Stephen Ainsworth as two-time winners of the IRC Class A.
In 2013, Royal Geelong Yacht Club hosted the event with local entry, Rob Hanna’s Shogun V, taking the title in a countback finish in the nine-race series over Marcus Blackmore’s 2011 and 2012 winner, Hooligan.
The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club hosted the 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship from 17 – 20 April. Karl Kwok's Beau Geste won the 2014 Class A competition.
The event returned to Queensland in 2015 as the Hamilton Island IRC Australian Championship with Karl Kwok's winnning back-to-back titles with Team Beau Geste.
The 2016 event was hosted by Hamilton Island Yacht Club as a part of the 2016 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Winning the 2016 Championship was Karl Kwok with Team Beau Geste completing the trifecta for the reigning Yachting Championship winner.
In 2017 the Australian Yachting Championship will returned to New South Wales and was hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Once again, Karl Kwok's Team Beau Geste proved too good for the Yachting Championship fleet winning the title for the fourth consecutive time.
The Australian Yachting Championship returns to Victoria next year and will be hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 January 2018.
Racing will be held across four keelboat divisions and one Multihull division with up to eight races for keelboats and four races for Multihulls across the three days. Held in the waters of Port Phillip adjacent to Sandringham Yacht Club, the Australian Yachting Championship will be a combination of windward/leeward and passage racing.