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As long as boats of different designs have raced against one another, skippers have sought an equitable method of handicapping. Various systems have been tried, based on boat performance or measurement, or a combination of these. In Southern California, where PHRF originated, one method or another of performance handicapping has been in use since 1906. Some of the systems were methods of handicapping boats, some handicapped skippers, and some combined both methods. TOP

The great expansion of this kind of racing, however, has taken place in more recent years. The development of a large fleet of high performance family cruising boats engaged in open, competitive racing has produced the present PHRF system.

With the advent of measurement-based rating systems, and their associated rapid changes in yacht design, many skippers have turned to the performance- based handicap system as the best assurance of their continued opportunity to compete fairly against all designs, new or old. As a direct result, the PHRF system has spread throughout the country.

Because so many of the skippers are new to this kind of racing, an explanation of the system, how it works, and how to use it will be helpful. It will also help the "old timers" to understand the system in its present stage of development and to clear up any misconceptions. TOP


PHRF-New England (PHRF-NE) handicaps are boat performance handicaps. They are based on the speed potential of the boat, based as far as possible on observations of previous racing experience. It is the intent of PHRF-NE handicapping that any well-equipped, well-maintained, and well-sailed boat has a good chance to win; and that any boat that wins a PHRF-NE race is indeed well- equipped, well-maintained, and well-sailed. Handicaps are adjusted as needed on the basis of the boat's performance so that each well-sailed boat will have an equal opportunity to win. This is the fundamental concept.

PHRF-NE handicaps are not intended to reflect the skipper and crew capability, but rather that of the boat; hence PHRF-NE racing is primarily a test of skipper and crew skill. Handicaps are not adjusted to permit a poor or careless skipper to score in the upper third of the fleet. Intensity of competition and the influx of new and aggressive skippers from smaller day sailing classes require a skipper to maintain consistently high performance in order to place well.

Doing well in a race, therefore, requires the exercise of skill and ability. Consistently poor performance, sloppy maintenance, or deliberately holding back will not result in a more favorable handicap. Conversely, if a skipper and crew sail the boat well and consistently place high, this will not, by itself, lead to a handicap that is less favorable than that of the actual performance potential of the boat. Assuring that the handicap is based on the performance of the boat, rather than sailing skill, is an important factor in preserving high morale and wholesome competition within the fleet. TOP


Under PHRF-NE, well designed and constructed boats are not expected to be made obsolete by newer designs. PHRF-NE does not use measurement formulas to determine handicaps because any formula, once established, can be circumvented by a clever designer or skipper. As faster designs appear, they are handicapped accordingly. As a result, one of the major attractions of the PHRF-NE system is that older boats can race competitively with the latest designs.

PHRF-NE discourages "rule beating". If a skipper modifies his boat to go faster, PHRF-NE will compensate for the faster speed potential. The use of taller masts, longer spinnaker poles, extra ballast, gutted interiors, or other modifications intended to increase the speed is compensated for in the handicap in order to nullify any unfair advantage. TOP


PHRF-NE handicaps are intended to be applied to daytime closed course races as well as offshore and overnight races where there is a balance of windward, reaching, and leeward legs and the entire sail inventory carried by each boat may be used. Recently however, with windward-leeward courses becoming more common, exceptional windward or leeward performance is taken into account. The system works well provided wind conditions affect all boats equally. It is not intended for extremely short races, predominately off-wind races, or when changes of headsail are not permitted. Results from such races are ignored in setting PHRF-NE handicaps.

Evening races under somewhat restrictive conditions are also using the PHRF-NE system, but handicaps are not altered to uniquely equalize racing in the twilight type of race. The handicaps, however, do give an accurate indication of normal boat speed, and good race management can often overcome the disadvantages arising from declining wind strengths and restrictive course conditions.

A straight reach or a straight off-wind course collapses the time allowances, with no correlation between handicaps and actual boat performance. If the course is a long beat to windward with little tacking, the handicaps work out all right, but when such a course requires frequent tacking in a choppy sea it favors the larger, faster boats, particularly if head currents are also present. TOP


We hope that each of you enjoys racing in this open and competitive sport. It is constantly being refined, and members have the opportunity to play an important part in shaping the future of this kind of racing, not only by sailing competitively, but also by taking an active part in the management of the system.

It is the intention of PHRF-NE to handicap boats in an as-built configuration. PHRF-NE will adjust the handicaps of boats that have been altered from the as- built configuration to completely compensate for any expected speed advantage. Variations must be reported to the Chief Handicapper so that the Fleet can be more accurately handicapped.

As a minimum, the following changes shall be reported:

  • Spinnaker pole length greater than J
  • Spinnaker width greater than 1.8 times J
  • Symmetric spinnaker luff length greater than .95 times the square root of (ISP squared plus JC squared) or an asymmetric spinnaker luff length greater than 1.03 times the square root of (ISP squared plus JC or STL squared).
  • Rig height (I) changes
  • Boom length (E) changes
  • Rig cross section/weight changes
  • Rig staying changes
  • Sail measurement changes (P, E, SMW, SL, and Lp)
  • Keel/ballast weight changes
  • Keel/rudder camber changes*
  • Keel/rudder chord changes*
  • Keel/rudder depth changes
  • Propeller type/size/location changes
  • Hull canoe body changes
  • Interior modifications

* Minor fairing of the hull/keel/rudder is permitted to correct unfairness in production molds. Fairing of the trailing edges of the keel/rudder is permitted, without charge, provided any chord (fore-aft length) of the keel/rudder is not changed by more than two percent. Fairing of through-hull fittings, rudder gudgeons, and propeller struts is also allowed. TOP



The handicap of an individual boat is a time allowance expressed in seconds per nautical mile. TOP


Because headsail size has so much to do with boat speed, PHRF-NE uses this factor as a significant measure for more accurate handicapping. Once a boat is handicapped with a large headsail, this handicap must be used even though wind conditions may preclude use of the sail. A skipper is not allowed to have his boat re-handicapped frequently by choosing his headsail to fit the expected race conditions. A skipper may not change his boats handicap by choosing a different size headsail more often than once during the normal racing season.

For one-of-a-kind boats, the handicap is initially determined on the basis of comparison with similar boats with established handicaps. Comparison is made on the basis of type of design and principal dimensions. The handicap is chosen conservatively, so that the new boat does not "automatically" win, and is then adjusted as performance data becomes available.

A new boat in an established class is given the handicap for the class standard with adjustments being made for any deviation. If adjustments are made, an indication is made in the PHRF-NE Valid Time Allowance List that the boat is not a standard class boat.

To the extent feasible, handicaps are based on evaluation of race results. PHRF-NE uses modern digital computing techniques to recompute race results and collate summary statistics by boat class. IRC, IMS, ORC, and PHRF race results can be incorporated into the database.

After each significant race, the race results are analyzed to adjust the handicaps of the boats involved. Each boat 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 does not automatically lead to an adjustment of the assigned handicap.

All handicaps are reviewed and may be revised at the time the PHRF-NE Valid Time Allowance List is published. However, if a skipper changes a boat to make it faster, its handicap may be reduced immediately. New boats are handicapped as applications are received. TOP


The handicap to be used in a race is the handicap in effect on the day the race is held. Each member receives electronically a current handicap certificate of his/her boat; that is his/her evidence of a valid handicap. As a handicap certificate is issued it is immediately posted on the valid list on the PHRF New England web site; It is the obligation of each member to enter races using the latest valid handicap.

Only boats with current handicaps assigned by PHRF-NE may enter PHRF-NE races. Yacht club race committees are requested to refuse entry to boats not listed on the most recent PHRF-NE Valid List unless the skipper can produce a more recent PHRF-NE handicap notice. Since the system handicaps boats rather than skippers, the handicap applies to the boat even when it is raced with different skippers at the helm, or with the owner ashore.

Handicaps, however, are issued only to members of PHRF-NE. If a PHRF-NE member buys a new boat, his/her membership will be transferred to that boat and a handicap will be assigned to him for that boat. A non-member who purchases a handicapped boat must obtain his own membership in PHRF-NE before racing the boat. TOP


PHRF-NE representatives in each yacht club are responsible for submitting the results of each PHRF-NE race (as well as the results of other divisions) for races sponsored by their clubs. Only by continually analyzing the latest race results can PHRF-NE approach its objective of an accurate performance-based handicap system. TOP



1.1 The name of the organization shall be the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet of New England (herein designated as PHRF-NE). TOP


2.1 It shall be a prime objective of this organization to promote the sport of handicap yacht racing among racer/cruiser sailboats and, at the same time, to advance the tenets of proper seamanship and sportsmanlike conduct.

2.2 It shall also be an objective of this organization to establish and maintain an equitable system of performance-based handicaps for yachts owned or chartered by members.

2.3 It shall further be an objective of this organization to maintain an association with the United States Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (US- PHRF), as well as other individual performance handicapping groups, by actively supporting our mutual interests. TOP


3.1 Membership shall be limited to members of a PHRF-NE fleet, sailors, and gentlemen or ladies of acceptable character and personality, with a genuine interest in yacht racing and furthering the objectives of PHRF-NE and with a demonstrated ability to handle or command a sailing yacht.

3.2 An honorary member may be named by unanimous vote of the Board of Governors. Such member need not have prior membership, and shall pay no dues or initiation fees. The intention of honorary membership is to provide recognition for people who have provided noteworthy service in the interest of PHRF- NE.

3.3 The annual dues and initiation fees for PHRF-NE members shall be set by the Board of Governors. Should PHRF-NE end any fiscal year in debt, the member fleets will be assessed to make good the deficit, subject to the approval of the Board of Governors.

3.4 Every member upon joining PHRF-NE undertakes to comply with the By-Laws. Any refusal, or neglect of these, or any conduct unworthy of a sailor, or of a gentleman or lady, shall render a member liable to disciplinary action. Every member is likewise responsible for the actions of his or her crew. A member may be suspended by vote of four members of the Executive Board and the duration of the suspension and/or other sanctions shall be determined by the Executive Board. A suspended member shall not participate in any manner in an event using PHRF-NE handicaps.



4.1 There shall be an Executive Board, which shall consist of the five officers elected by the Board of Governors: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Handicap Secretary, Chief Handicapper, and the immediate Past Commodore. The Executive Board shall meet, whenever necessary in the judgment of the Commodore, to pursue the efficient operation of PHRF-NE and promote its continued growth and well-being. Committees, other than those specified with the by- laws, may be created on a temporary basis with chairman appointed by the Commodore.

(a) The Executive Board may recommend to the Board of Governors that the organization would be best served if the current commodore served a third year. The recommendation must have the unanimous support of the Executive Board excluding the Commodore. The appointment would be subject to the approval of 2/3 of the Governors present and voting at the meeting. This amendment will expire at the time of the organization's 2018 Fall meeting.

4.2 There shall be a Handicapping Committee which shall consist of the members of the Executive Board plus other qualified individuals as appointed by the Executive Board. The committee shall meet as necessary to consider any handicapping changes suggested by the Chief Handicapper or by the handicappers of the individual fleets, as well as any appeals from any member of a current handicap. Meetings may be held in person, or conducted electronically. The Commodore shall vote only to resolve a tie vote on the committee. The Handicapping Commitee shall maintain a list of base handicaps, one-design configurations, and handicap adjustments.

4.3 There shall be individual fleets within PHRF-NE. A PHRF-NE Fleet shall be self-governing squadrons of yachts with PHRF-NE handicap certificates. A fleet shall be responsible for collecting PHRF-NE dues and overseeing PHRF-NE handicaps and races in its designated area.

4.3.1 A fleet may organize itself, as it shall deem appropriate, to carry out its responsibilities toward PHRF-NE and any additional activities which promote the handicap racing of cruising yachts. A fleet may set minimum standards for the safety and equipping of yachts competing in races under its jurisdiction.

4.4 A squadron of yachts may apply for fleet membership to PHRF-NE by submitting a written request. The request will be reviewed by the Board of Governors. If necessary, after the governors have been notified, a two-thirds vote of the governors present at a meeting will be required to admit a new fleet.

4.5 A PHRF-NE Fleet will be maintained by the Executive Board for the convenience of transient boats wishing to sail a single PHRF-NE event. Membership in this Fleet is limited to those participating in a single event and are normally home ported outside of PHRF-NE's normal jurisdiction (Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts).

4.6 A Fleet may be suspended or expelled by the Board of Governors. The duration of a suspension shall be determined by the Board of Governors, but shall not exceed one year. Suspension will require a two-thirds vote of the Governors present; expulsion will require a unanimous vote. A governor may not vote on disciplining his own fleet.

4.7 Each Fleet shall elect a Governor and Handicapper who will represent the Fleet on the Board of Governors. The Governor or his/her delegate shall have a vote on the Board of Governors; the Handicapper shall have a voice, but no vote.

4.8 There shall be a Board of Governors comprised of the Governors of the individual fleets who shall serve on the board to represent the particular interest of their designated areas to the overall PHRF-NE organization.

The Fleet Governor
4.9 The Fleet Governor shall:

  1. Serve as primary liaison between its Fleet members and PHRF-NE and assist new and existing PHRF members by providing information and answering questions about PHRF-NE applications, rating certificates, and other questions.

  2. Provide information regarding upcoming fleet events to members and other potentially interested PHRF fleets, primarily through mass email communications and by responding to email inquiries.

  3. Attend each semi-annual PHRF organizational meetings in Spring and Fall.

  4. Communicate PHRF-NE plans and changes to the Fleet Race Committee.

  5. Bring any concerns or issues from the Race Committee to PHRF-NE. Assist Fleet Handicapper as required.

The Fleet Handicapper
4.10 The Fleet Handicapper shall:

  1. Screen all Renewal Certificate Applications for changes from the last issued certificate and if there are no changes, forwards the application to the Certificate Processor, noting that there aren't any changes, and requests issuance of certificate.

  2. Assist boat owners in preparing New Certificate Applications for ratings and review by the Handicapping Committee by verifying the data provided by owner using internet resources (, US Sailing, manufacturer's website, previous certificates, other sources).

  3. Consult with the boat owner to resolve any discrepancies before submitting to the Handicapping Committee for review and handicap designation.

  4. Provide liaison between Handicapping Committee and owner during review process.

The Handicap Certificate Processor
4.11 The Handicap Certificate Processor shall:

  1. Receive Certificate Applications from the local Fleet Handicapper and checks for any changes from previous years. If no changes are noted, a current year Certificate is issued.

  2. Forward Certificate Applications with changes from the previous year to the Handicapping Committee with the notes from the Fleet Handicapper.

  3. Forward new boat Certificate Applications to the Handicapping Committee with the notes from the Fleet Handicapper.

  4. Issue the Certificate for the sailing year once the Handicap Committee has determined the boat's handicap.

  5. Maintain a history on Certificate Applications so that if there is a challenge in the future, there is documentation recording the action and justification.



5.1 There shall be six officers elected by the Fleet Governors: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Secretary, Treasurer, and Chief Handicapper.

5.2 The Commodore shall be the chief executive officer of PHRF-NE and shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Board and Board of Governors, serve as chairman of the Handicapping Committee, represent PHRF-NE to other yachting organizations, and promote the best interests of the organization.

Additional duties include:

  1. Shall vote in instance of a tie or the absence of an Executive or Handicapping Committee member to achieve a quorum.

  2. May appoint additional members of the Handicapping Committee who have a technical interest. No member of the Handicapping Committee may take part in discussions about the handicap of a boat that he/she has an interest in, either financially or by sailing on it.

  3. May direct and prepare information for distribution to the membership at large and/or other related PHRFNE Committees, Governors, Fleet Handicappers and resource persons.

  4. May initiate discussions beneficial to PHRFNE for the Executive Committee to consider. Regarding these discussions, if a consensus is not reached, the Commodore may have the option to present directly to the Governors, and/or membership at large for further review and discussion.

Vice Commodore
5.3 The Vice Commodore shall assist the Commodore in the discharge of his duties.

Additional duties shall include:

  1. In the Commodore's absence, act in his stead.

  2. Act as a voting member of the Executive Board and Handicapping Committee.

  3. Promote growth of the membership.

  4. Coordinate any social activities.

Rear Commodore
5.4 The Rear Commodore shall preside at meetings in the absence of both the Commodore and the Vice Commodore. In addition the Rear Commodore shall:

  1. Act as a voting member of the Executive Board and the Handicapping Committee.

  2. Assist the Vice Commodore in the discharge of his duties.

The Rear Commodore will be the only Flag Officer position on the Executive Board elected to a 2-year term at the Fall Meeting semi-annual election. Persons in the office of Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore are expected to advance to fill 2-year term ladder positions and will not require additional votes.

5.5 The Secretary shall act as the recording member of the Executive Board and PHRF-NE. In addition the Secretary shall:

  1. Maintain membership and fleet rosters.

  2. Act as a voting member of the Executive Board and the Handicapping Committee.

  3. Record certificates processed for year, keep historical record

  4. Acting as the 'gatekeeper,' manage and support email communications generated by fleets,

  5. Generate special reports for fleets including membership mailing labels, end-of year reports.

  6. Generate monthly invoices, collect/record payments sent to treasurer.

  7. Coordinate and schedule the Fall and Spring meeting at the request of the Commodore.

  8. Act as the official contact for Member Fleets.

  9. Collect images/messages from fleets to be posted on website and distributed via email.

Chief Handicapper
5.6 The Chief Handicapper shall:

  1. Maintain the performance handicapping records.

  2. Recommend, to the Handicapping Committee, handicaps for newly-registered yachts and handicap changes for yachts whose race results indicate a need for adjustment.

  3. Conduct independent investigations of alleged measurement irregularities.

  4. Act as a voting member of the Executive Board and the Handicapping Committee.

In the event of a vacancy in this position, duties will be assumed by the Handicapping Committee, Fleet Handicappers and Certificate Processor.

5.7 The Treasurer shall be responsible for the funds of PHRF-NE and act as a voting member of the Executive Board and the Handicapping Committee. These responsibilities include:

  1. Maintain a checking account for PHRFNE expenses.

  2. Deposit monies into this account sent to PHRFNE from the PHRFNE Secretary who collects the membership fees.

  3. Pay any bills as authorized by the PHRFNE Commodore.

  4. Provide accounting at the Fall Meeting for income and expenses.

  5. Recommend any changes need in dues to offset increased expenses.

The Secretary and Treasurer are Association Officers on the Executive Board and elected at the same time as the Rear Commodore during the semi-annual Fall Meeting vote. The Secretary and Treasurer, as Association Officers on the Executive Board, are not limited to 2-year terms as are Flag Officer positions.

Immediate Past Commodore
5.8 The Immediate Past Commodore shall be responsible for officially presenting the newly-elected Commodore to the Executive Board, Board of Governors, and Handicappers following the semi-annual elections at the Fall Meeting.

Additional duties include:

  1. In a timely manner, shall also provide to the incoming Commodore an overview of recent activities and outstanding issues to facilitate a seamless transition.

  2. Shall participate in Executive Board voting, providing the Commodore and Executive Board with advice, support, and recommendations.

  3. Shall provide information, contribute to decisions, and vote as a member of the Handicapping Committee.

  4. Shall attend the annual Fall and Spring PHRF-NE Meetings in order to present, define, participate in, and/or support discussions related to the effective functioning of the organization.

5.9 If any Association Officer, with the exception of Commodore, vacates or must be removed from a position for any reason, the Executive Board may either:

  1. designate a replacement to serve until the position can be filled by an appointment of a nominating committee prior to a vote of the general membership in a bi-annual election at the Fall Meeting OR

  2. Designate a replacement for Rear Commodore while moving other Flag Officers up the ladder.

  3. In the case of the vacancy for the position of Commodore, the Vice Commodore will immediately assume the position of Commodore and continue in that position.


6.1 The Board of Governors shall have at least one scheduled meeting each year, after the conclusion of the normal racing season, to hold the annual elections, to hear the reports of the Fleet Governors on the year's activities, and to conduct any other appropriate business. Additional meetings as necessary to resolve any issues before the organization may be called by the Commodore. Meetings may also be called by the Commodore at the request of three or more Governors who shall submit such request in writing to the Commodore with a statement of the purpose of the meeting. Timely notice of the time, date, location, and purpose of each meeting shall be given to the Governors and Handicappers of fleets in good standing.

6.2 Elections shall be held at the annual meeting, and each officer's term shall run from the date of election for two years. The Executive Board shall select a Nominating Committee who will propose a slate of officers who will run. Nominations will be entertained from the floor and, upon seconding and acceptance by the prospective nominee, will be added to the official slate. No person may run for more than one office in any given year. Elections will be held by voice vote, or by written ballot upon such request being made. The candidate for each office with the highest number of votes shall be declared the winner; a majority is not necessary to elect. In the event of a tie, a second ballot will be cast only for the office or offices for which there was a tie vote.

6.3 Any member in good standing shall be eligible to hold office. In no event shall the office of Commodore be held by an individual for more than two successive terms.

6.4 Article 4.1 (a) provides for an exemption to the Commodore's two-year term limit.

6.5 The Governors present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum. TOP


7.1 These by-laws may be modified, a new by-law added, or an existing by-law removed by a two-thirds vote of the Governors present and voting at any meeting, provided that the proposed amendments be stated in full in the notice of the meeting. TOP


8.1 PHRF-NE handicaps a yacht as if it were equipped to race. A yacht will be handicapped in the same manner as others in its class; however, if the basic hull or rig differs from others in its class, it will be uniquely handicapped according to guidelines adopted by the Handicapping Committee. PHRF-NE does not use measurers, but rather relies principally on the honesty and Corinthian spirit of the participants.

8.1.1 Only single hulled cruiser/racer boats will be issued official handicap certificates. Other boats may be issued unofficial handicap certificates.

8.2 The Chief Handicapper shall maintain a fleet roster of all valid handicaps as approved by the Handicapping Committee. The handicaps issued shall be based primarily on the past performance of the yacht or class of yachts.

8.3 A handicap shall be assigned to a yacht not previously handicapped by using any formula the Chief Handicapper deems appropriate, including use of the measurements of the yacht as submitted by the applicant and such other data obtained by observation of the performance of the yacht, or comparable yachts, or any other relevant data.

8.4 Any new member applying for a handicap on a yacht with a previously established handicap shall be assigned the handicap of the yacht if still current. If the handicap is no longer current, the handicapper shall assign a revised handicap using the data available to him.

8.5 The Fleet Handicappers shall keep a record of the performance of yachts in their assigned areas. A review of the performance of each yacht in the races for which results are received shall be conducted by the Handicapping Committee, supplemented by data obtained from race committees or other sources. Changes in handicaps shall be made whenever the results or other data indicate an adjustment in order to provide equitable handicap racing. The Fleet Handicappers shall notify the affected member of any change in the handicap of his yacht. Handicap changes are not retroactive.

8.6 Each Yacht shall be handicapped individually whether a member of a one- design class or not. Yachts are not required to comply with one-design class rules while racing under PHRF-NE handicaps, except as noted.

8.7 The Chief Handicapper shall not issue a handicap for a yacht not owned, leased, or under charter by a member of PHRF-NE.

8.8 The Executive Board, subject to instructions received from the Board of Governors at the annual meeting, shall provide criteria for the eligibility of yachts for handicaps. In applying such criteria, a Fleet Handicapper may reject the application of any yacht he considers not eligible, subject to appeal to the Handicapping Committee.

8.9 A skipper may experiment with different ways of improving the performance of his boat without the necessity or inconvenience of re-measuring. If there are changes to the hull, rig, sail inventory, or other factors upon which the existing handicap is based, they must be reported to the Fleet Handicapper for evaluation. Failure to report such changes may render a yacht owner liable to suspension in accordance with Article 3.4

8.10 If possible deviations on the part of an owner become apparent, other contestants are urged to protest the yacht directly in accordance with The Racing Rules of Sailing Rule 2 and 64.3, or to bring such deviations to the attention of the Fleet Handicapper.

8.11 The standard class handicap for a yacht of a particular design assumes the following equipment, unless the yacht is handicapped in a one-design configuration:

1. the largest headsail having a luff perpendicular (LP) measurement equal to 155 percent of J, unless an overlapping headsail cannot be used sailing to windward due to the configuration of the boat;

2. symmetric spinnaker with a maximum width (SMW) equal to 180 percent of JC and a luff length (SL) equal to 0.95 times the square root of (ISP squared plus J squared) or an asymmetric spinnaker with a maximum width (SMW) equal to 180 percent of JC/STL and a luff length (SL) equal to 1.03 times the square root of (ISP squared plus JC or STL squared)

3. spinnaker pole (SPL) the same length as J; whisker poles shall be the same length as J;

4. outboard engine, or inboard engine with folding prop, or where appropriate, inboard engine with two-blade solid prop in aperture; auxiliary power, sufficient to propel the boat in calm water at a speed no less than the square root of the waterline length in knots, is mandatory. Boats without auxiliary power will only be issued unofficial certificates.

5. rig that comes as standard equipment; checkstays, that are attached to the mast no higher than 55 percent of the distance from the top of the boom to the intersection of the headstay and the mast above the boom, can be added to rigs that do not have them without penalty. Addition of rigging higher than this will result in a handicap charge.

6. interior that comes standard; all standard doors, tables, etc. must remain on board while racing. Cushions may be removed.

8.12 A member must declare his sail inventory as listed on his certificate. These are the total of his inventory, and no other sails can be used. This inventory can be changed up until May 1 of the calendar year of the certificate. After May 1, the member can change his declared inventory once for the remainder of the season. If a declared sail is damaged it can be replaced with a sail of the same measurements. Therefore, the rating is not changed. If a member changes his inventory, it must immediately be reported to the fleet handicapper and a new certificate issued.

8.12.1 No more than two mainsails shall be used during a season. Once a series is started with a mainsail, the same mainsail shall be used throughout that series.

8.13 The maximum inventory for a sloop competing in a cruising class is one mainsail, three headsails, and three storm sails (i.e., a storm jib with an area no greater than 0.05 times I squared, a heavy weather jib with an area no greater than 0.135 times I squared, and a storm trysail). The staysail on a normally cutter rigged yacht shall not count towards the maximum inventory. Spinnakers are not allowed.

8.13.1 The headsails on a yacht competing in a cruising canvas race shall be of windward genoa design and shall be flown fully attached to the headstay or roller furling luff wire. Except for cutter rigged yachts, only one headsail may be flown at a time unless in the process of changing it. Cutter rigged yachts may fly a true staysail. Headsails may be held out by a single spinnaker pole or whisker pole, attached to the mast, whose length does not exceed the base of the foretriangle (J) unless so declared on the handicap application.

8.13.2 The maximum inventory for a yawl or ketch competing in a cruising canvas class is that for a sloop (8.13) plus a mizzen. For the sails allowed for other rigs, consult the Chief Handicapper.

8.13.2 Free flying sails are not allowed in a cruising canvas class.

8.14 The maximum inventory for a sloop competing in a racing class is one mainsail, five headsails, three spinnakers, and three storm sails as defined in 8.13.

8.14.1 The maximum inventory for a yawl or ketch competing in a racing canvas class is that for a sloop (8.14) plus a mizzen and a mizzen staysail. For the sails allowed for other rigs, consult the Chief Handicapper.

8.15 All sails shall be cut in accordance with the latest US SAILING, ORC, ORR, and IMS rules; this includes the girths of headsails and spinnakers, leech length of spinnakers, and headboard restrictions, except as provided in 8.15.1 and 8.15.2 below.

8.15.1 An asymmetrical spinnaker is allowed in racing canvas races subject to appropriate handicap adjustments and regulations. The average of the luff and leech lengths shall not exceed the maximum luff/leech length specified in 8.11.2. The midgirth shall be at least 75 percent of the maximum width. The maximum width shall not exceed 1.8 times JC, except that yachts handicapped by one design class rules shall be governed by the applicable class rules.

8.15.2 The mainsail upper girth, MGU, shall not exceed the greater of 0.28*E + 0.016*P + 0.85 feet or 0.38*E without penalty. The mainsail middle girth, MGM, shall not exceed the greater of 0.5*E + 0.022*P + 1.2 feet or 0.65*E without penalty. Except that yachts handicapped by one design class rules shall be governed by the applicable class rules.

8.16 The Handicapping Committee shall resolve the grievances of members regarding the handicap of any yacht. If the grievance is not resolved initially by the Fleet Handicapper, the member may appeal to the Handicapping Committee in writing, and the decision of the Handicapping Committee shall be final and binding. The Fleet Handicapper shall present available data and information to the Handicapping Committee while the appeal is being heard. A member shall have the right to appeal in writing and to submit evidence regarding the performance of the yacht in competition. Click here to go to the appeal page.

8.17 A member may obtain a handicap for more than one yacht during the year, but such handicap shall be valid only while the boat is under his ownership or while in his management if chartered. TOP

8.18 In significant cases, the decision of the Handicapping Committee may be issued in written form. Such decisions shall set forth the reasons for the decision and will form an important means for keeping the PHRF-NE handicapping system understandable as well as correcting misconceptions about the system. It is not enough for a system of handicapping to be administered fairly; it must also have the appearance of fairness if morale is to remain high.

8.19 Textured surfaces on the hull and/or appendages that are, or could be, intended to reduce drag are not allowed.


9.1 Any question not covered by these bylaws, or by rules adopted by the Executive Board, or by the Handicapping Committee, shall be resolved in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, as revised.


10.1 The officers shall endeavor to promote the racing of handicap yachts over both closed and distance courses and are authorized to provide assistance and information to yacht clubs and race committees for this purpose.

10.2 In furtherance of this objective, the officers may provide for research on the performance of cruising yachts, the evaluation of their performance, and the management of handicap racing, and shall encourage the development and use of uniform methods of computing and reporting race results.

10.3 The officers shall provide for the development of inter-fleet handicap racing by encouraging competition between members for trophies in such events, and may act as the governing body in establishing the conditions for such events.

10.4 The officers shall stimulate the improvement of methods of notifying members of handicap racing events, and may supply names and addresses of members to the race committee of yacht clubs or associations sponsoring racing events in electronic form to be used only for a single event.

As amended: November 2017

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© 2024 PHRF New England