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FAQ
Click below for information on:
PHRF Application
Who uses NE Handicaps
Visitor Policy
Recreational Handicap 
Small jib credit
Asymmetric spinnaker 
Cruising Canvas Credit
Bloopers
Propellor Credit
Racing Trim
Cutter Rigs
Sport Boats   
Crew Weight
Furniture Removal
Handicap Appeal
Sail Limits 
Unofficial Handicap
J105 Handicaps   
Time on Time Scoring
Code 0 Spinnaker  
Carbon fiber sails
How handicaps are determined 
In mast roller furling  


How do I apply for a PHRF of New England handicap?
PHRF of New England works through local fleets. You should contact the fleet in which you intend to sail. You can find the addresses of the fleets by clicking here. Fees are determined by the individual fleets.

What areas use PHRF New England handicaps? Basically the fleets are on coastal Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine plus Lake Winnipesauke. The fleets and their contacts can be seen by clicking here

What if I am from outside the normal area? You can join PHRF of New England directly. Click here for an application. If you intend to race in just a single regatta and belong to another PHRF fleet, there is no charge for the courtesy certificate. If you intend to race in more than one regatta or do not belong to another fleet, the charge is $25.

What are the requirements for the Recreational Handicap?   Above deck roller furling with the head and tack of a true cruising sail attached to the drum and swivel are required. No exotic sail materials are allowed. Polyester (Dacron and Pentex) and mylar are allowed in the working sails and nylon in the spinnaker. Kevlar, Technora, Spectra, Vectran etc.(high modulus fibers) in the working sails and polyester in the spinnaker are not allowed. Two jibs are allowed; one with an Lp of 110% or less and one with an Lp over 110%. One nylon spinnaker is allowed. If you have a boat that is already handicapped in the above conditions, like many of the so-called sport boats, you are not eligible for this credit as it is already taken into account. If you remove the roller furling from a boat where it is already incorporated into the handicap, as in the J105, then there will be a handicap adjustment. 

One means one. It does not mean that you can have two jibs the same size and switch between them to suit conditions.

What is the credit for a small jib? There is no adjustment for a headsail less that 150% on the racing handicap. On the cruising handicap an additional 3 seconds per mile is given if the largest Lp is 135% or less. If the boat is handicapped in a one design configuration with a small jib, this credit does not apply.

Do I get credit for an asymmetrical spinnaker?  If the asymmetric spinnaker is the only spinnaker on the boat and it is tacked to the bow, without a spinnaker pole, there is a 9 second per mile credit. If it is tacked to the bow, then the spinnaker pole length on the application must be noted as either NONE or 0. IN other words, a spinnaker pole cannot be used. If it is not so noted, it will be assumed that the sail is tacked to a standard pole and no credit will be given.

This credit is intended for cruiser/racer boats. If a race boat, as determined by the PHRFNE Committee, attempts to take advantage of this, the credit will likely be reduced.

The spinnaker must be a legitimate spinnaker with a midgirth at least 75% of the foot. This is not intended to fully compensate for the perceived speed difference of this type of rig on a normal race course. If the boat normally carries an asymmetrical spinnaker, such as the sprit boats, there is no additional credit given. The base handicap for these boats will be with the class spinnaker with the exception of the J105, J120, and J130, where the jumbo is considered the standard spinnaker. If you add a sprit, the credit is reduced by 3 second per mile per 10 percent increase in J. Thus, when the sprit is 30 percent of J, you are back to the base handicap for the boat.

If there both symmetric and asymmetric spinnakers in the inventory that are tacked to a spinnaker pole there is a 3 second per mile penalty. If the asymmetric spinnaker is tacked to the bow and is no wider than the symmetric spinnaker, then there is no handicap adjustment.

What is the difference between the racing and cruising handicaps? The difference is 12 seconds for a masthead rig, 6 seconds for a true fractional rig, and 9 seconds for 15/16ths rigs and fractional rigs with masthead spinnakers. Since catboats have no foretriangle, there is no adjustement with these rigs. There is another 3 second credit on the cruising handicap if the Lp is 135% or less. This difference is not intended to fully account for the speed difference between a spinnaker and a non-spinnaker boat. Another 12 seconds should be added to get a rough approximation of the perceived speed difference in some undefined "average" condition. No spinnakers or other free flying sails, such as mizzen staysails, are allowed with the cruising handicap.

Can I fly a blooper? A blooper can be flown in a racing canvas race if it declared as one of the five allowed headsails. It must have an Lp no larger than the largest declared genoa Lp and have a midgirth no greater than 50 percent of the foot in length. A blooper cannot be flown in a cruising canvas race as no free flying sails area allowed with this handicap.

What is the propeller credit? The base handicap assumes that the boat is rigged for racing with a folding or feathering prop if the boat has an exposed prop shaft. If there is a 2 blade solid prop there is a 6 second credit and a 9 second credit for a three blade solid prop. This credit is not intended to fully account for the speed loss under sail resulting from solid props. In light air this underestimate could be as high as 50 seconds per mile.

The base boat for a boat with a propeller in an aperture is two blade solid. If is a three blade solid, 3 seconds credit is given. If it is a two bladed feathering propeller, there is a 6 second charge. That is because the when feathered the propeller, when properly feathered, fills up the aperture and reduces drag. There is no change with a three bladed feathering prop.

What is meant by racing trim? Racing trim means a good boat bottom and keel, wet sanded and fair. Paint applied with a roller requires heavy use of wet sandpaper to achieve an acceptable bottom. Good sails go without saying. No credit is given for ten year old rags. It is assumed that the junk has been removed from the boat. A boat in "live-aboard" condition cannot hope to be competitive. Of course you still have to have a good crew and race the boat competently.

How is a cutter rig defined? The cruising canvas handicap allows only one headsail to be flown at a time unless the boat has a true cutter rig. On a true cutter rig the staysail must be used when sailing both upwind and down. If it isn't, it isn't a cutter and the staysail is not allowed.

What is a sport boat? We use four definitions. Normally the boat must meet all four to be considered a sport boat. These criteria are:
1. A displacement/length ratio less than 100
2. An upwind sail area/displacement ratio greater than 30
3. A downwind sail area displacement ratio greater than 75
4. A sprit length more than 50 percent of J
The sail areas are computed using the foretriangle and mainsail square areas which do not take into account jib overlap or mainsail roach. These are accounted for by the Handicapping Committee when making judgments.

Sport boats are handicapped according to their class rules. If a formal class no longer exists, such as for the Melges 30 and the Viper 830, then the original class rules would still apply. This includes girths of mainsails and spinnakers as well as jib sizes. If you are in doubt about this, contact Certificate Processor for information. 

Can sport boats be raced with "conventional" boats? Of course racing is better if all of the boats in the class are of the same general type and size. When you mix different boat types you can have certain types of boats pulling horizon jobs depending on the race conditions. In benign conditions boat types can be mixed. You tend to run into problems if there is a good breeze where the sport boats can plane.

Do the crew weight limits always apply? The crew weight limits only apply if the Notice of Race for the regatta says they apply. Only the more significant regattas use the weight limits. The crew weight limits were forced on us by sailors who insisted on lining their boats with "rail meat". It is a proven fact that the more weight you have on the windward rail, the faster you will go. By using a weight limit, instead of a number limit, you do not exclude lighter sailors. Click here to go to the PHRF New England table of crew weights.

Can I remove doors and other interior parts?  No, PHRF-New England handicaps a boat in the stock condition. Therefore the removal of interior parts, including doors, and tables, etc. is considered to be an alteration and must be reported. There will likely be a handicap adjustment for such removals. Cushions may be removed without penalty.

How do I appeal my handicap? Click here to download the appeal form and see guidelines for an appeal.

What are the sail limits? For the racing handicap, you are allowed one mainsail, five jibs, and three spinnakers. Any required storm/heavy weather sails do not count towards the limit.

For the cruising handicap you are allowed three jibs and no free flying sails. The mizzen staysail is a free flying sail and cannot be used in a cruising handicap race. Only one headsail can be flown at a time unless the boat is a true cutter.

Any sail may be replaced once during the racing season. However, you can have two mainsails. The restriction is that you have to use the same mainsail throughout a series. This permits you to use an older main for Wednesday night type races and a newer main for weekend races.

What is meant by Unofficial Handicap?  Official PHRF New England Handicaps are given to true cruiser/racer type boats. In general this means that the boat has the equipment required by the Offshore Racing Council Equipment for Category 5. A quick indication of likely conformance is if the boat has furniture inside. It must also have auxiliary power.

In cases where the boat is not a true cruiser/racer, an Unofficial Handicap may be given. This assists clubs that might allow a boat to race more informal races. These Unofficial Handicaps can never be used in a serious race. If the Notice of Race says that ORC Cat 4 equipment is required, the Unofficial Handicap is not acceptable.

Unofficial certificates have the word written on the certificate, usually in several places. The Valid List will show a "U" along with the handicap for Unofficial Handicaps. On the base handicap list, "U" follows the boat type designation for boats normally not eligible for an Official certificate.

What is the story with J105 Handicaps?   The J105 situation is complicated by the many variations seen. The base handicap of 81 assumes a 150 percent genoa, the jumbo 110 square meter spinnaker, and the deep keel. Beginning with the 2003 season, the One Design spinnaker is the 89 square meter sail. If the application is not properly filled out, as is common, we assume the above configuration which is the worst case. The following is a table that shows the handicaps for various sail configurations:

Spinnaker Jib Race Handicap Cruise Handicap
77 SM 100% 96 96
89 SM 100% 90 96
110 SM 100% 87 96
77 SM 150% 90 90
89 SM 150% 84 90
110 SM 150% 81 90

The shoal draft model gets 6 seconds on both handicaps. 

Also remember that these handicaps assume that the boat has working roller furling as per the class rules. Removal of the furling gear will result in a handicap reduction. Since the roller furling is standard on the boat, the J105 is NOT eligible for our Recreational Handicap credit.

What about Time on Time scoring?  Click here to go to a description of Time on Time scoring for PHRF. Time on Time scoring is used by several PHRF New England Fleets.

Are Code 0 Spinnakers Legal? Code 0 spinnakers are very flat, heavy weight reaching spinnakers that can be used upwind. Unfortunately there is no common definition of what a Code 0 is. PHRF NE has adopted the term "close reaching spinnaker" for the Code 0 and any other spinnaker that is intended to be used with the apparent wind forward of 70 degrees. These sails are intended to get around anomalies in various rating rules, particularly on fractionally rigged boats with no-overlapping jibs. In order to qualify as a spinnaker, the spinnaker midgirth has to be at least 75 percent of the foot.  Since they are intended to get around "the rule", there is handicap adjustment for them.

If the boat has an overlapping jib greater than 130% the adustment for a Code 0 spinnaker is -3 seconds per mile. If the Lp is less than 130%, the adjustment is -6 seconds per mile.

Are Carbon Fiber Sails Legal? PHRF-NE goes by the IMS sail rulings. At the 2000 Annual ORC Meeting, the IMS restriction on carbon in sails was removed. Therefore they are legal in PHRF of New England.

How are handicaps determined?   There are a number of factors taken into account. We compare the new boat to others that we are familiar with. We look for boats of the same type, based on sail area to displacement ratios. You really can't compare an ultralight to an around the world cruiser. We then make adjustments based on the differences. 

We look to see if the boat has raced in another PHRF group. If so, the Chief Handicapper of that group will be contacted to get his opinion.

We look to measurement rules. Here you have to be careful as measurement rules are type forming. If the boat wasn't designed to the rule, then this has to be taken into account. Since measurement rules evolve over the years, the age in the rule must also be considered.

There are a number of formulae that can be used to give you an idea of where to start from using basic boat parameters. These tend to be crude and are good only for getting a ballpark idea of what the handicap might be.

All of these factors are considered and a handicap is determined. It can then be adjusted, based on race performance. This is the difficult part as the quality of the racing program has to be taken into consideration. Just because a boat finishes last all the time or, on the other hand, wins many races, does not necessarily mean that the handicap is wrong.

The overall philosophy is that, for new boats, we should error on the side of being a bit harsh. For instance, if we are trying to decide between a handicap of 111 or 108 for a new boat, we will always pick the 108 for a starting place. It is always easier to raise a handicap than to lower one.

What is the credit for In Mast Roller Furling?   If the mainsail has no battens and a negative roach, then a 6 second per mile credit is given. If there are battens and/or a positive roach, then the credit is reduced to 3 seconds per mile.

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© 2017 PHRF New England
© 2017 PHRF New England