September 2007

US SAILING Launches Three Online Tools For PHRF Sailors

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — US SAILING has launched three online tools for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet sailors.

Launched by the United States Performance Handicap Racing Fleet Committee (USPHRF), working in concert with US SAILING's Offshore Office, these tools include two databases — which contain handicap ranges and critical rig and hull dimensions for many production boats raced throughout the U.S. — in addition to an analysis tool that allows sailors and handicappers to develop a picture of how a given boat performs in relation to its handicap.

The strength of the PHRF handicapping system is local administration, where handicaps are developed and adjusted according to a boat's observed performance in the region's local wind and course conditions. There are no nationally determined performance handicaps. 

 According to US SAILING Offshore Director Dan Nowlan, "The important role that US SAILING can play in the PHRF community is to serve as a central technical resource and information source. For sailors and handicappers, these online tools developed by members of the USPHRF Committee are valuable resources to have access to.

“They are not unlike the Encyclopedia Britannica: I may not read it every day, but it's important to know it's there when I need it."

 The first database, High/Low/Mean PHRF Handicaps as determined by USPHRF Affiliated Fleets, lists the high, low, and average PHRF handicaps for over 4,100 production boats that are raced in the U.S. under this handicapping system. The figures are the reported handicaps from affiliated fleets sent to USPHRF for the period running from March 1995 to March 2007.

 The second database, Critical Dimensions of Boats for Handicapping, lists critical hull and rig dimensions for over 6,000 boats. This information was supplied by USPHRF-affiliated fleets, boat manufacturers, naval architects, and other individuals who have made contributions to this database.

 There is a self-correction feature built into the Critical Dimensions database; individuals can add and request modification of records by submitting a form to USPHRF and the US SAILING Offshore Office for verification and inclusion in the database.

 The third, Graphic Display of Imputed Handicaps, is an analysis tool that allows sailors and handicappers to develop a picture of whether a given boat is sailing well above its handicap, within expectations, or well below its handicap.

By plugging fleet data into a spreadsheet for a series of races, handicappers can develop a picture of how a given boat is performing by calculating an imputed handicap and tracking that in a graph format.

 "Sailors and handicappers like to know how well they are doing, and for different reasons," said Paul Ansfield, chair of USPHRF. "This analysis tool is valuable because it is a simple empirical method that uses easy calculations within spreadsheets and displays a picture of racing performance through the presentation of related graphs.

“Development of the tool will continue; we hope handicappers in the PHRF community will use this type of tool and submit feedback to our committee."

For more information on these online tools, please visit the USPHRF site or contact Paul Ansfield, chair of the USPHRF Committee, by following the link on the USPHRF homepage.


The United States Performance Handicap Racing Fleet Committee (USPHRF) is a technical rule committee of US SAILING that promotes performance handicap racing for monohull and multihull sailing yachts applying the PHRF rule.

The committee researches, develops, and distributes guidelines for performance handicapping using systematically applied empirical methodology to determine estimates of speed potential. The committee maintains a database of critical dimensions for production boats and a database of handicaps assigned by local and regional fleets associated with USPHRF.

It publishes these data, periodic bulletins, and handicapping guidelines that are mailed to member fleets associated with US SAILING. Three subcommittees have special tasks.

The Executive Subcommittee deals with management and evaluates application of the rule. The Technical Subcommittee updates the procedures and methodology for performance handicapping. The National Appeal Subcommittee hears appeals of handicaps forwarded from associated local and regional fleets.