The PHRF handicap of your sailboat
As the Club de voile des Laurentides handicapper, I’m often asked “How come all the CVL’s Tanzer 26 doesn’t all have the same handicap?” Well, the short answer is “Because they are not all identical!”. Let me explain some of the basics of the PHRF system.
The PHRF system we use to establish SLVYRA handicaps compares each of the CVL’S Tanzer 26 to a « standard » Tanzer 26; a stock Tanzer 26 with a 155% #1 genoa, a 180% spinnaker, a standard mainsail and an outboard engine.
As soon as the sailboat differs from the « standard » boat, it gets a credit or a penalty to its handicap. The main differences we find in handicaps often come from variations in the actual sail area. This is why it is so important to have your sails measured by your local Club handicapper. The adjustment principle is quite simple; if your sails are bigger than « standard », you get a penalty and if they are smaller than « standard », you get a credit to your base handicap. Since almost all of the measured sails are smaller than « standard », it is very advantageous to have your sails measured and get the credits to your handicap.
The « White Sails » option is also often used. It’s a credit you get when you don’t use your spinnaker. There are also rating adjustment for inboard engine equipped with folding, feathering, fixed, 2 or 3 blades propellers. Since the standard handicap of an inboard engine boat is based on a folding propeller, there is a credit as soon as a non-folding propeller is installed on the boat.
The PHRF system takes into account many dimensions and characteristics to establish a boat handicap. But the system also take for granted that the boat is well prepared, that it is light, without unnecessary weight, with a racing bottom, recent sails and good crew with an excellent helmsman! And the race results are often more influenced by these points than by the boat handicap!
The PHRF system has rules to prevent the over optimization of yachts. The yacht standard equipment must remain on board; it is forbidden to remove the head, sinks, stoves, icebox, navigation desk, berths, lockers, shelves, drawers, tables, doors, curtains, instruments, plumbing, wiring, fuel and water tanks. The yacht mandatory security equipment must remain on board. All movable ballast and dead weight must be locked and not moved during racing. On yacht equipped with retractable keel or centerboard, the keel or centerboard must be kept locked down at all time when racing. The propulsion assembly must be sufficient to drive the boat at 90 % of hull speed. Outboard engine must be installed on permanent mounting, connected to securely fastened fuel tanks and ready for instant immersion. Fuel onboard must be sufficient for two hours running at 90% of hull speed.
As you can see, the PHRF handicap of your boat is produced by a system of measures and not, like some say, by some biased handicappers’ opinions! (but it is always useful to be in good terms with your local Club handicapper, just in case!)
SLVYRA PHRF Chief Handicaper