performance handicap is a method of providing equitable time
allowances for monohull yachts of different designs racing against
each other. Numerous systems have been employed - some were methods
of handicapping, some handicapped skippers, and some combined both
systems. The increased interest in racing of racer/cruiser type
yachts has produced the PHRF.
rating formulas with the attending rapid changes in yacht design
have turned many skippers to the performance-based handicap system.
Performance handicap emerges as the best assurance of continued
opportunity to compete fairly against all designs, both new and old.
As a result, the PHRF system, begun several decades ago in
California, has spread to the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes,
the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. In 1976, PHRF was sanctioned by CBYRA.
USSA now has recognized PHRF as a subcommittee under its Offshore
are boat performance handicaps. They are based on the speed
potential of the boat, determined as far as possible on observations
of previous racing experience. It is the intent of PHRF handicapping
that any well equipped, well maintained, and well sailed boat has a
good chance of winning. Handicaps are adjusted as needed on the
basis of the boat's performance so that each well sailed boat has an
equal opportunity to win. This is the fundamental concept.
are not intended to reflect skipper and crew capability. Ratings are
not adjusted to encourage a poor or careless skipper, and
conversely, not rating adjustment is made to penalize proficiency.
Intensity of competition and the influx of new and aggressive
sailors require each skipper to maintain consistently high
performance in order to place well.
The PHRF is an
open rule. There are no hull restrictions other than the
self-righting requirement. Headsails must fall under one of the
following definitions. Any headsail that fits neither definitions is
not a legal sail.
- A jib is a sail in which its mid-girth, measured between the
mid-points of the luff and leech, does not exceed 50% of the length
of the foot, and in which any other intermediate girth does not
exceed a value similarly proportional to its distance from the head
of the sail.
- A sail shall not be measured as a spinnaker unless the mid-girth
is 75% or more of the foot length, and the sail is symmetrical about
a line joining the head to the center of the foot.
SPINNAKER - Asymmetrical spinnakers which meet the current
ORR definitions may be rated used in lieu of a standard spinnaker.
mid-girths between 50% and 75% of the foot length shall not be
Battens - PHRF
does not restrict battens in mainsails but sails must meet ORR
girth requirements or "one design sails" requirements.
Battens may be used in jibs smaller than 110% LP.
and constructed boats are expected not to be made obsolete by newer
designs under PHRF. PHRF does not use formulas to determine
handicaps. As faster designs appear, they are handicapped
accordingly. Therefore, one of the major attractions of the PHRF
system is that older boats can race competitively with the latest
"rule beating." If a skipper modifies his boat, PHRF will
attempt to compensate for the new potential speed. The use of taller
masts, longer spinnaker poles, extra ballast, gutted interiors, or
other modifications intended to increase speed is compensated by the
rating assigned. Boats must be raced in exactly the same
configuration they were in when presented to the handicapper.
Credits or debits assigned to modifications are at the sole
discretion of the Chief Handicapper. Following are some
"guidelines" as to what may or may not be penalized. These
are only guidelines. When in doubt, read and follow the policy.
Penalty For Removing
equipment required by USCG when racing.
equipment not required by USCG for racing
and water inventory
cushions, if used for sail stowage
required by Sailing Instruction
required by Notice of Regatta
general, anything the factory provided!!
having One Design Ratings must race with the equipment prescribed
by the Class Association.
Committees have the authority to conduct random or non-random
inspections at any time and are encouraged to do so.
members are urged to voluntarily comply with the rules. If you
witness a violation, you are urged to file a protest with the Race
Committee on a real-time basis and notify PHRF afterwards.
certificate is issued solely for the purpose of rating the speed
potential of the boat described. It is not to be construed as in any
way suggesting that PHRF-GB has made any determination with respect
to the seaworthiness or safety of the boat rated. The seaworthiness
and safety of each boat is the sole responsibility of the owner
that a boat is equipped to race. It does not attempt to rate a
partially equipped boat, or a boat which differs from other in its
class, in that it is unusually heavy, out of balance, or has unusual
windage (as from a dinghy on davits). However, if the basic hull and
rig differ from others in its class, it will, of course, be rated
rating of all boats in the PHRF of Galveston Bay assumes an inboard
or outboard motor on the boat. Such motor must be capable of
propelling the boat at 0.85 times the square root of LWL in calm
water. Boats not so equipped will incur a -6 second per mile
adjustment from their base rating. One design classes are exempt if
class rules do not require motors.
rating assigned to a yacht is valid only so long as the following
crew limits are not exceeded.
up to 22.5
52.51 and up
to the above limits, yachts may carry additional crew members
under thirteen years of age as of the day of the race.
limitations apply to "non-spinnaker" classes.
are expressed in seconds per mile to be deducted from elapsed times
to produce corrected time. The higher rating indicated the slower
boat. PHRF time allowances are not related to other systems.
are made on the assumption that:
spinnaker pole length or TPS is equal to "J."
spinnaker maximum width is 1.82 "J."
spinnaker maximum length is equal to 1.0 "I."
"LP" is at least 1.4 "J" but no greater than
The boat is
in racing condition.
The boat has
a folding or feathering propeller or a retractable outboard motor.
The top of
the spinnaker is at upper end of "I" measurement.
The asymmetrical spinaker
meadian width (ASMW), is equal to or less than 1.82 "J."
are made to the base rating if these assumptions are violated.
standard sails are those sails which do not incur an IOR/IMS
penalty. The owner's signature on the rating application attests
that the sails are PHRF-GB standard sails unless otherwise noted.
The burden of
proof of self-righting and the ultimate safety of a yacht's crew is
the sole responsibility of the yacht's owner.
Only the PHRF
committee can request that an owner perform a self-righting test.
The responsibility of conducting the test, and any liability for
damages resulting from the test is the owner's responsibility.
In cases where
the PHRF Committee deems it necessary, the owner may be required to
perform a self-righting test as follows:
scuttles, and vents shall be closed.
shall be weighted at the main halyard block with the working
with keels/centerboards/daggerboards which are movable while
sailing shall be tested with their "boards" in the up
may be removed from the yacht, with the measurers permission, to
prevent equipment damage, but not to increase stability.
shall be hove down on her beam ends for 15 seconds.
point the yacht must be able to right herself. Should the yacht fill
with water it shall not sink. PHRF will rate ballasted boats with
self-righting test may be required by the PHRF Committee for any of
the following reasons:
concern for yacht's stability.
concerning yacht's righting ability. Righting test protest must be
accompanied by a fee of $100.00; this fee is refundable should the
yacht fail the self-righting test.
questionable incident concerning righting ability.
Bay shall in no way be held liable for any damage which may be
incurred in performing a self-righting test. PHRF does not warrantee
the safety of any boat for racing.
If there are
changes to the hull, rudder, keel, ballast, rig, sails, or other
factors upon which the existing rating is based, they must be
reported to the Chief Handicapper for evaluation. If possible
deviations on the part of the owner become apparent, other
contestants are urged to protest the yacht and notify the Executive
At the present
time there are over 130 classes racing under the PHRF system. A base
rating is established for each class, and boats within a class are
assumed to be identical for rating purposes. New boats must declare
any deviation from class. Deviations from standard configuration
will be evaluated on an individual basis. Changes in rig or sail
dimensions will not necessarily result in full recovery of
Because of the
number of boats in PHRF and the variability with which boats are
sailed, it is not feasible to accumulate statistics on an individual
boat basis. To provide a broader statistical base, boats are handled
as a class insofar as possible when it is brought to the
handicapper's attention that a particular boat differs from its
standard class in a way to change its speed potential, the committee
may pull the boat from its class and handicap it individually. Where
a class has several boats racing actively, the performance data
accumulates rapidly, and it is possible to arrive at a fair handicap
in a short time.
to handicap from the base as performance data accumulates leads
frequently to a later adjustment the base rating to reflect the
prevailing rating within the class. An adjustment in the base rating
normally is followed by a corresponding adjustment in the rating of
the individual boats to conform with the new base.
are intended to be applied to closed course races. The system works
well provided wind conditions affect all boats equally. It is not
intended for races that are mostly off the wind or on the wind, or
when changes in headsails are not permitted. Results from such races
are ignored when setting PHRF handicaps.
rating of an individual boat is expressed in seconds per mile,
usually in increments of 3 sec./mi. The smallest increment of
performance used for rating is 3 sec./mi. Observations of numerous
races show that it is impossible to spot a boats potential
performance more accurately than this because of the multiple
factors involved. Differences in skipper and crew skill represent a
much larger factor than 3 sec./mi.
headsail size has so much to do with boat speed, PHRF uses this
factor as a means of handicapping. Boats are rated for use with
larger small headsails with 155% of LP being the dividing line. Once
a boat is rated with a large headsail, this rating must be used,
even though wind conditions may preclude use of the sail. A skipper
is not allowed to have his boat re-rated frequently by choosing his
headsail to fit expected race conditions.
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non-spinnaker yachts are given a Non-Spinnaker factor. This factor
is meant to adjust for the differences in rigs and weight for
non-spinnaker yachts. This factor is not meant to handicap spinnaker
vs. non-spinnaker yachts.
determined by a Handicap Committee, and in the case of new, custom,
modified or otherwise unusual boats, with the approval of the
Executive Committee. The Chief Handicapper is Chairman of the
Handicap Committee. Each handicapper is responsible for handicapping
boats assigned to him, subject review by the Chief Handicapper. With
time the handicapper becomes familiar with the performance of all
the more active boats, and is able to evaluate their
characteristics. Through experience, the handicapper becomes
familiar with the wind and current conditions in his area, and
understands how much of an allowance to make for local conditions
before evaluating boat speed in competition. Handicappers maintain a
constant search for boats which require an adjustment of handicap in
order to permit them to compete fairly with the balance of the
are selected on the basis of an active interest in handicap racing,
knowledge of boat design and performance, a judicial temperament,
and demonstrated leadership in yacht racing. Most are participants
in racing, but have put aside their views as contestants to evaluate
yachts fairly and accurately. Clearly, the system rests on the
integrity of the handicappers.
A new boat in
an established class is given the rating for the class. Adjustments
may be made for any deviation from the class. If adjustments are
made, an indication is made in the Valid List that the boat is not a
standard class boat.
classes and one-of-a-kind boats, the rating is determined by the
Executive Committee on the basis of comparison with similar boats
with established ratings. Comparison is made considering type of
design and principal dimensions. The rating is assigned
conservatively and is adjusted as performance data becomes
computing techniques to calculate race results and to collect
statistics by boat class. Other handicapping systems (IOR/IMS etc.)
and race results are also used to gain a maximum data base. Each
class is handicapped against the performance of the fleet as a whole
and the handicap raised or lowered as required for good racing.
However, winning races (or losing races) does not automatically lead
to an adjustment of the handicap.
new boats may be assigned by the Chief Handicapper, provided the
boat is a stock production boat, unmodified by the owner. Rating for
custom boats or a boat type never before rated in the Galveston Bay
area must be presented by the Chief Handicapper to the Executive
Committee, at one of its regular or special meetings, for approval.
- Left blank on purpose
Left blank in
be sent a renewal notice in December. Ratings expire January 31st.
The rating to
be used in a race is the rating in effect on the day the race is
held. Each member receives a certificate giving the current rating
of his boat, and the certificate is evidence of valid rating.
Ratings may be adjusted by the Board of Handicappers during the
season. It is the obligation of each member to enter races using the
latest valid rating.
with current PHRF ratings may enter PHRF races. This is necessary
even for class yachts because it is the prerogative of the PHRF
handicapper to determine if the boat meets its class definition and
to assign a rating. Yacht club race committees are requested to
refuse entry to boats not listed on the most recent Valid List,
unless the skipper can provide a more recent PHRF certificate.
system rates boats, rather than skippers, the handicap applies even
when the boat is raced by a different skipper, or with the owner
ashore. Ratings, however, are issued only to members of the
Association as specified in the By-Laws.
If a PHRF
member buys a new boat, his membership will be transferred to that
boat and a rating will be assigned to him for that boat. A
non-member who purchases a rated boat must obtain his own PHRF
membership before racing the boat.
are governed and policed by USSA and yacht club rules, not by PHRF.
Vice-Chairman of PHRF of Galveston Bay is responsible for seeing
that results of each PHRF race held by a yacht club are submitted to
PHRF. Only by analyzing continually the latest race results can PHRF
approach its objective of an accurate performance based on the
The rating of
every yacht in the PHRF fleet shall be subject to review and
adjustment by the Executive Committee at the December meeting, which
shall be a closed meeting. A list of the yachts whose ratings were
adjusted at this meeting shall be published to the fleet, however,
those ratings which were adjusted shall not become effective until
after the first appeals meeting of the following year (usually
A PHRF fleet
member has the right to appeal the rating of any PHRF yacht. Such
appeal must be made in writing and according to the procedures
stated in Article XI of the By-Laws
of PHRF of Galveston Bay. At the hearing, any member of PHRF may
present his or her views. An appellant should be prepared to
has raced in a sufficient number of races to compile adequate
The yacht is
properly equipped for racing in the areas of gear, sail inventory,
bottom condition, etc.
assistance of other knowledgeable sailors has been sought to
maximize yacht performance.
usually be three appeal meetings held each year at the regular
Executive Committee meeting generally on the second Thursday of
February, May, and September, unless otherwise announced. Letters of
appeal must be received by the Secretary/Treasurer no later than two
weeks prior to the appeals meeting. The fleet will be notified of
all appeals to be heard