PHRF General Information


The PHRF fleet races on Tuesday nights from mid-May until until mid-September. Practice is 5/24/16, First race is 5/31/16

Any PHRF ratable boat, except a J24 (sorry), can join and must have a current handicap ceritficate from PHRFNE. The skipper must apply for a certificate annually. These two restrictions apply for the Tuesday night racing, they don’t apply to the PHRF weekend racing. Apply or renew your PHRF Certificate at PHRFNE

The Cruising and Racing fleet breaks vary from year to year as it depends on how many and what type of boats sign up. We try to keep the fleets competitive and look at the type, size and handicap and then group the boats accordingly.

Racing Fleet: This is the spinnaker fleet. You may or may not fly a spinnaker, your choice, but you will be using your race handicap for the races. If you have a J24, you need to race in the Thursday night J24 fleet, you will get more racing in and you will find it more competitive.

Cruising fleet: This is the non-spinnaker (mostly) fleet and they use the cruise handicap. We do allow 5 wildcard spinnaker races where a boat could fly a chute if they wanted to. That race would be scored using the boat’s race handicap, not their cruising handicap. We have also experimented with what some call a Golf or Local or History handicap. We adjusted a few boat’s handicap where the boat may not be optimally setup so it is competitive against boats with 150 genoas and fin keels.

The Cruising fleet is where boats new to racing may start out to get used the rules. This fleet is generally more laid back than either Racing and J24 fleet and we usually don’t have any protests.

Check the Sailing Instructions for more information.

What is PHRF?

PHRF handicapping is an attempt to allow similar non-one design boats to race competitively together. It is an observed performance system. The initial handicapping is based on a boat’s water line length, draft, total sail area (with 100% jib) and weight. The assumption that the seas are flat and the wind is 12-15 knots. There is a Race handicap and a Cruising handicap for each boat.

The Base rating you see on the PHRFNE website is the base Race handicap. This handicap assumes the boat is race ready: 150% genoa, full roach main, fin keel and a folding prop. Adjustments can be made to the base handicap to sort of compensate if a boat has a head sail smaller than a 150, or fix prop or a shoal draft keel or some other items. These adjustments are based on the criteria stated in the first paragraph.

The Cruising handicap is adjusted from the base handicap by tacking on seconds for the boat not having a spinnaker. This spinnaker adjustment varies depending on the rig and spinnaker type so from 6 seconds for a fractional rig to 12 seconds for a masthead rig.

What does ‘Similar non-one design boats’ mean?
Similar boats mean boats that are of similar length, weight, design, purpose and handicap. For instance: A Tartan 30, Catalina 30 and a Pearson 30 are similar boats. A boat like a J24 or a J105 is not similar to the previous 3 boats. A J24 and Catalina 30 TM have a similar cruising handicap, 171 vs 186 but one is designed for racing and other for cruising. There is a huge difference in weight between the two, 3,000 lbs vs 10,000 lbs. The keel on a Catalina 30 weighs about as much as a J24 with crew. So you can imagine it might be tough to competitively race these boats against each other, especially if the wind drops under 10 knots. The larger, heavier boat with a lot of wetted surface is going to be at a disadvantage in the light winds.

SA/D and D/L: Two other factors to look at when comparing boats is the SA/D and D/L ratios. Sail area/Displacement (SA/D) formula is SA/(Displacement/64)^0.6666 and Displacement/Length is Displacement/2240/(LWL*0.01)^3. For SA/D, the higher the number the faster the boat. For example a J105 is 23.6, J24 is 19.6, a Tartan 30 is 16.9 and a Great Dane 28 is 13.4. For Displacement/Length (D/L) the lower the number the faster the boat. For example a J105 is 135, J24 is 173, a Tartan 30 is 274 and a Great Dane 28 is 415.

The Wind: The PSA races tend to have light wind, except for the past two years (2014 & 2015), the wind being under the ideal conditions the handicaps are setup for. If you averaged the wind velocity for week night races, it might be around 8-10 knots. And it usually drops as the night goes on. Same goes for weekend races, though the average might be a knot or two little higher.

Boat designs: For PHRF purposes, boat designs can be broken down into these 5 groups: Sport, Racers, Racer/Cruisers, Cruiser/Racers and Cruisers. How do you tell the difference? Generally speaking, look to see where the traveler is located. If it is attached near the end of the boom, the boat is probably a sport boat, racer or racer/cruiser. This isn’t always the case, but it can be a good indicator. If it is on the cabin top, it is probably a cruiser/racer or cruiser.  What kind of keel does it have? If it is a full keel or shoal draft/wing, it is generally a cruiser.

Ideally we like to create fleets of similar boats with similar handicaps and similar designs. But depending on what boats sign up for a season, we can’t always setup the ideal fleet.