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Appeal Process

Introduction to the Handicap Appeal Process

This document describes the process for appealing a performance handicap assigned by PHRFNE. It provides instructions for filing the appeal and conditions to be met. Attached to this document is a form to be completed and submitted to PHRFNE thereby initiating the appeal process.

An appeal is a request by a holder of a currently held and valid PHRFNE certificate for a change in the assigned handicap of his or her boat or a competitor's boat. But keep in mind that handicaps are assigned based on a boats' better sailing conditions. If a boat is weak in some condition, the handicap will not be adjusted so that the boat can win in those conditions.

Appellants need to distinguish between protest of a handicap that is more properly filed with race committees and appeal of a handicap that is properly filed with PHRFNE. Protests deal with a boat sailing in a race with hull and rig specifications other than specified on the currently held handicap certificate. Hence protests are made to the authority for a race not to PHRFNE.

Appeals deal with a request to modify an assigned handicap based upon complete, reliable, and valid evidence. It is the responsibility of the appellant to supply the evidence. Typically appeals are filed for one of the following reasons:

1. There is evidence that the PHRFNE Council of Handicappers was not in possession of complete or correct data when the current handicap was assigned.

2. There is performance data from the various PHRFNE venues that clearly demonstrate that an adjustment to the handicap is warranted.

3. There is evidence that there have been unreported modifications made to a boat subsequent to the assignment of the current handicap. This type of appeal is usually the result of a successful protest to a race committee for initial and ensuing action under the current published racing rules.

While an appeal of a handicap may be submitted at any time, it should be received by the PHRFNE Secretary prior to 15 December in order to be acted upon before the start of the next racing season. Appeals received after that will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Appeals received after 1 April will likely not be completed until after the start of the racing season. For any owner(s), only one appeal of the handicap assigned to their boat may be filed each year. However, if that appeal is based on modifications or evidence that incorrect data were used in assigning the handicap, it may be submitted at any time.

A few words of advice. Appeals of new handicaps will not be heard unless at least 5 good, around the buoys races have been sailed. Port to port races are not considered. For boats that have been modified in a way that affects the handicap, the races must be after the modification was made. Letters that are basically of the "I don't like my handicap" variety usually don't go very far. You have to do the work to make a good case. That means a race analysis. A whining letter about this or that injustice will not hack it. Please make a good case. Otherwise you are wasting many people's time. If, as part of your appeal, you are comparing handicaps to those of other regions, please read the Area Differences section of the US PHRF Handicaps book. Many questions can be answered by simply reading this one paragraph.

If there are other boats of the same type as that whose handicap is being appealed handicapped in PHRFNE, they will also be considered in determining the outcome of the appeal. When this is the case, the process can take a long time. the following is a decription of the process.

Before you appeal, please be certain that your boat is in "Race Ready" condition. That means, among other things;

1. A smooth, clean botton that is tended to several times during the season.
2. Sails that are reasonably new, generally less than 3 years old and are of the appropriate size for the area you race in.
3. A regular crew that is experienced at racing and is near the crew weight limit
4. A boat that is free of "junk" that tends to accumulate.
5. You regularly race a number of closed course races each year.

PHRF-NE Appeal Procedure

1. Appellant downloads appeal form from PHRF-NE Web Site.
2. Appellant fills out form
3. Appellant puts together a summary of race results, etc to prove the case for the appeal. This information must not exceeed ten (10) pages.
4. Appellant sends package including above to his/her Fleet Handicapper
5. Fleet Handicapper reviews appeal
6. Fleet Handicapper adds any additional results or information that may be helpful
7. Fleet Handicapper adds personal comments from his/her experience with the boat in question for with the competition with whom the boat sails.
8. Fleet Handicapper sends the appeal package to PHRF-NE Secretary.
9. PHRF-NE Secretary sends copies of the package to Handicap Committee member.
10. If the appellant is appealing another boat's rating, the PHRF-NE Secretary will notify the protested boat's owner. The owner may send information in defense of the rating and may be invited to the Handicap Meeting should one be required.
11. Handicap Committee members review appeal. Considerations would be the evidence in the appeal, other similar boats, the competition of boat, ratings in other areas and their sailing conditions, how well the boat is prepared, how well the boat is sailed, have the results been improving, worsening, or remaining the same.
12. Via e-mail, agreement may be reached for relatively easy appeals and decisions may be reached. This is to speed appeals which are fairly clear cut.
13. If not decided via e-mail, appeal is addressed at the next Handicap Committee Meeting.
14. PHRF-NE will post upcoming appeals on its web site and notify sisterships. This is to allow sisterships to participate if the appeal is a general class-wide appeal. The posting will indicate the date, time, and place of the appeal hearing.
15. Once a decision has been made, the Handicap Committee Chairman sends a letter to the appellant and the Fleet Handicapper.
16. Frequently, the decision will be made with the provision that the committee will continue to observe the results and sailing of the boat in the future. In that case, the boat will be considered at future Handicap Committee meetings.
17. The appellant may request a meeting with the Hanicap Committee if not satified with the original decision.
18. If the appellant still is not satisfied he must appeal to USPHRF.


Click here to download the Appeal Form in Microsoft Word.

The Appeal Form and backup material, commented on and signed by your Fleet handicapper, must be submitted by email to Lindsay Smith at: or by snail mail to: PHRF-NE, C/O New Wave Yachts, 69 Front St. Marblehead, MA 01945

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