PHRF Letter


April, 2016

Dear Fellow Sailor,

This year PHRF/ELI has furthered the change to a digitally based system of applying for and receiving a handicap rating that was begun last year. The change began last year utilizing the ELIYA website. The PHRF page on that web site allowed sailors the options of downloading an application form, filling it out and mailing it in, filling the form in on line, printing the completed form and mailing it, or filling out the form on line, paying electronically through PayPal and e-mailing the form for completion. Depending upon the specific method chosen, the completed rating form would either be mailed or e-mailed back to the owner.

Although the process will remain the same this year, the information will now be accessed through our new, independent web site, . This separate web site will replace the pages on the ELIYA website that dealt with the entire handicap rating process. All of the relevant information regarding our rating process, the rules and regulations that support our ratings and a regularly updated comprehensive fleet roster will be displayed on this site.

Since this material will be posted and readily available on line, we will again this year not be mailing out individual large packets containing the hard copy. Anyone desiring a hard copy can easily download it from the web site.

When following this application process, there are two general items you should be aware of. First, not all computers will find it possible to type directly into the form on line. This is especially true when someone is working from a mobile device. In case your device will not permit you to fill out the form on line, simply download the PDF form from the link on the site and go from there. Secondly, if you wish to e-mail your completed form please send it to the Chief Handicapper at . When doing so, please be sure to include your e-mail address in the appropriate block on the Application Form in order for the completed form to be returned via e-mail.

E-mailing of the completed application is only permissible if you pay online via Pay Pal. The link on the new web site ties into the ELIYA site so the process will be identical to last year. If you prefer, you may send a check (payable to ELIYA) in the mail with your application form. Please do not e-mail your completed form with a note that the “check is in the mail”. It won’t save you any time as the completed form will not be returned until the check is received.

If you prefer to use the established method, simply mail your completed form (via USPS) to one of the Handicappers listed on the website. Once received, your application will be processed as always and a copy returned to you by regular postal service mail.

In either case the completed rating form you receive should be retained for your records because it verifies your rating and provides proof that rating is current and valid. Once a rating application has been completed by a Handicapper, the boat’s information will be posted on the Fleet Roster section of the web site. The roster will now be controlled by the Handicap Council and all information contained therein will now be official. It is our intention to keep the Roster updated on a weekly basis throughout the sailing season.

As always, please remember that all rating certificates are only valid for one year and automatically expire on April 30 of the following year. Even if you held a certificate last year, it must be renewed for your rating to be valid for the upcoming season.


The Performance Handicap Racing Fleet is composed of a group of monohull sailboats of varying performance characteristics that are handicapped for racing on the basis of observed performance rather than measured dimensions. It is the purpose of the PHRF system to handicap yachts of various classes or types on the basis of the potential speed of a well sailed, well maintained, and well equipped specimen of each type.

PHRF of ELI is administered by a Handicap Council composed of local sailors whose names are listed on the back of the Rating Application Form. The Council meets bi-monthly at 7:30 pm at the Shelter Island Yacht Club. Meetings are scheduled for the second Monday of a month and afford a public forum to hear appeals and review general regulations and individual ratings. All meetings are open to the public and we encourage your attendance and active participation.

The Council is firmly committed to establishing handicap ratings that are as fair and objective as possible. Ratings are based on demonstrated performance or, in the absence of local or regional race data, the projected performance of a well sailed boat, properly equipped for racing, sailing a circular random course (i.e. all points of sail) in 8 knots of true wind speed. On this basis, a single base rating is generated for each boat or boat model. Alternate base ratings or adjustments based upon the use of other wind strengths or course types are not developed.

It must be noted, however, that any handicap system has inherent limits of applicability and, when the system is applied beyond those limits, it will begin to yield race results of questionable fairness. By itself, no single rating system can ever adequately compensate for inadequate or inappropriate course selections or division assignments.


In order to qualify for a handicap rating from PHRF of ELI, a boat must be a self-righting monohull sailed without the use of a trapeze, hiking boards or any other equipment specifically intended to support a body outboard of the sheerline. Wings that are a permanent and standard component of a boat’s design are permitted.

For purposes of handicapping, our ratings assume a boat is fully prepared and equipped for competitive racing (i.e. good sail inventory, clean bottom, etc.). Rating credits are not given for inadequate boat preparation nor are credits extended for the carrying of excessive or oversized cruising equipment or gear. Furthermore a boat’s rating does not include a factor to account for the experience level of either skipper or crew. We handicap only the boat, assuming it to be sailed competitively.

Base Boat Ratings have been established for over 200 popular production models. All boats of a specific model are given the same Base Boat Rating. That rating assumes the boat has a standard (unmodified) hull, keel, rudder and rig and is equipped to the degree intended by its manufacturer (such as joiner work, bunks, galley, etc.) A Base Boat is also assumed to carry sails of a particular size and a minimum drag engine/propeller installation. To the extent an individual boat varies from any of these base assumptions, adjustments are applied to the Base Boat Rating to arrive at a specific rating for that boat.

Recently, the Handicap Council has become concerned over the increasingly aggressive manner in which some owners are addressing the general area of “Boat Modifications”. For many years we have had Adjustment Tables that modify a Base Boat Rating to account for changes in sail plan, rig, etc. The Adjustment Tables we use are intended to adjust base ratings for specific, individual changes, not for multiple modifications that attempt to gain some sort of speed/rating advantage.

To discourage any such attempts, the Council has now moved to limit the total amount of adjustments (both penalties and credits) that can be applied to a boat’s base rating to twelve (12) seconds/mile. Boats that, under our rules and regulations would accumulate a total of adjustments above 12 seconds/mile, will henceforth be rated as “custom modified” models and be given a separate base boat rating that reflects the combined performance effect of all the modifications made.

One Design Ratings (ODR) are a refinement of Base Boat Ratings and have been established for boats of an organized one design class with published class rules. Boats that hold ODR ratings must carry only class legal sails and equipment. Class designated weight limits do not apply for PHRF racing. The One Design Rating incorporates any penalties or credits that would otherwise arise from adherence to the class rules.

Non-Spinnaker Ratings adjust a boat’s base rating to compensate for the expected loss of performance when not flying a spinnaker. Each PHRF/ELI Certificate contains both spinnaker and non-spinnaker ratings. Non-spinnaker ratings are only intended to be used in races against other boats racing without spinnakers, not in classes that mix spinnaker and non-spinnaker boats.

The intent of non-spinnaker ratings is that boats sail off the wind with the same sails they use when sailing upwind. Therefore, yawls and ketches may not fly staysails off the wind unless such sails are used sailing upwind. When racing in the non-spinnaker classes, all jibs must be attached along their luff to the forestay.

Proper Racing Trim Yachts shall race as rated with at least all the equipment and furnishings supplied as standard by the manufacturer. Production boats with modifications to the standard hull, appendages, rig or interior as well as custom designed boats must be reported to the Handicap Council and will be rated on an individual basis. When racing, yachts not fitted with auxiliary power must carry aboard an outboard or other mechanical means of propulsion. Failure to do so will incur a six second per mile penalty.

It is the obligation of the owner or master of any production boat that has been modified to provide details of all changes made to the boat on the rating application. Examples of such changes would include any of the following:

                      Keel Modifications (depth, shape, section, material, weight)

                     Weight Change (relocation or elimination of bulkheads and

                                                 joinerwork, reduction of standard equipment,


                     Rudder modifications (type, shape, depth, etc.)

                     Hull modifications (other than normal fairing)

                     Rig Changes (sail plan changes, rig size, rig material, rigging

                                              material, chainplate locations, etc.)

PHRF ratings are based on the information supplied to the Handicap Council by the boat owner. In signing an application for a rating, or for the renewal of a rating, the owner attests to the completeness and accuracy of the information supplied.


The PHRF ratings of all currently active boats are reviewed annually by the Handicap Council and adjusted where appropriate in light of new performance data and additional observation and experience. Additionally any PHRF member can appeal the current rating of any boat (including his own) to have it raised or lowered. Appeals must be submitted in writing and are heard by the Council as soon as possible at a regular meeting. Appeal decisions are voted upon at the meeting in which they were heard and become effective the following Saturday. Please contact the handicapper serving your local area to guide you through the appeal process.


PHRF/ELI regulations allow the base jib size to vary, generally following the designer’s or manufacturer’s intent. For boats designed to carry overlapping genoas, the base size is between 148% and 151% of J. For boats designed to carry non-overlapping or one-design sails, the base size is that specified by either the designer or the one-design class.

In the case of yachts not sailing with a one-design class rating (ODR), attention is directed to the following sail measurement limitations:

                     Mainsail headboards may not exceed in width the greater

                     of 6 inches or 4% of E.

                     Mainsail girth limits are: upper girth (MGU) cannot exceed

                     38% of E and the mid-girth (MGM) cannot exceed 65% of E.

                     Increases above these limits shall be stated as a percentage.

                     This data can usually be obtained from your sailmaker.

                     Full batten mainsails are allowed without penalty so long as

                     the roach of the sail has not been increased from the above


                     A sail may not be measured or used as a jib unless its mid-girth

                     does not exceed 50% of its foot length and the length of any

                     intermediate girth does not exceed a value similarly proportionate

                     to its distance from the head of the sail.

Best wishes for a successful and enjoyable season.