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Commodore's December 2017 Newsletter
December 27, 2017

Dear PHRF New England Members,

As we turn the page on 2017, your Executive Committee remains committed to improving communication and transparency. while also engaging our racing community to improve the art and science of handicapping. This is a continuation of a two-yearlong process of improving the PHRFNE operation.

To that end, we’re reaching out to the Fleet Governors and Handicappers to review their fleets and assess the handicaps that seem worthy of a formal review. We also invite our membership to review performance within their fleets and identify opportunities for ratings review.

As an example, the PHRFNE Handicap Committee recently responded to a member’s inquiry to review the handicap of an Alden Challenger 38 yawl Muskrat and ultimately decided to revise the base handicap from 156 to 174. The certificate will show three adjustments to the base handicap reflecting the differences between this particular boat and an Alden Challenger 38 yawl with standard equipment:

  1. Spinnaker adjustment for a non-standard asymmetrical spinnaker tacked to the bow: +9
  2. Prop adjustment for a non-standard 3-blade solid prop in aperture: +3
  3. Recreational adjustment for a limited sail inventory: + 6

The Base of 174 plus the above adjustments will result in the following:

  1. Race handicap (with spinnaker) of 192.
  2. Cruising handicap (no spinnaker) of 198.

We thought it important for our membership to understand how the Handicap Committee arrived at its decision:

PHRF handicaps are boat performance handicaps. They are based on the speed potential of the boat, and as much as possible on observation of previous racing experience, when available. Since Muskrat has not been actively raced since 2007, there aren’t any race results for review. Instead, we identified three yawls of similar size, rig and vintage (Hinckley Bermuda 40-1, Rhodes Reliant 41, Alberg 37) and compared hull and rig dimensions and their respective PHRF NE base handicaps. Next, the Handicap Committee (5 people), with input from a seasoned skipper who grew up racing an Alden Challenger 38 yawl, reviewed the data of all four boats tempered by personal on-the-water observations. The Committee concluded that the existing base handicap of 156 was out of line. After many email exchanges in which we discussed the differences in the boats, the Handicap Committee agreed that a base of 174 is a more appropriate number.

We offer this experience as an example of the work that can be done to review and reconsider a member’s rating. While the review and adjustment process will always seek out a fair rating based on the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic performance potential of individual boats, it is not an easy task, and is certainly more difficult when reviewing boats that have minimal reference points for performance.

The ratings of less common yachts are often more prone to question, mostly due to lack of information. However, even high production model ratings should be worthy of review from time to time, even though they may be less likely to be adjusted. We recognize that older production designs may require a dedicated review of base ratings to ensure they are competitive within present day fleets.

When these production-model ratings are called into question by the owner or local handicapper and there exists an abundance of reference points, it may be likely that the actual performance of the individual boat is due to the care of the boat, the condition of the sails, or the crew work, rather than the design. For this reason, while we encourage review of ratings, we also caution that more times than not, the ratings review process may not result in the desired adjustment.

The PHRFNE Executive Committee is commencing a review of ratings for the 2018 season. If you would like to have a boat included in this process, please visit our website here [] to submit an appeal to the Fleet Handicapper from your region. There is no charge for an appeal at PHRFNE. The Fleet Handicapper will supplement the information and act as a conduit between the appeal and the Executive Committee. This process chain is essential.

We’ll keep you updated between now and our Spring meeting.

Respect accorded,

Doyle Marchant


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