Handicapping Philosophy

Handicapping of most centerboard boats is adequately handled by the Portsmouth system. Keelboats, however, are typically not rated well under that system. Although there are several measurement handicapping systems in use, they tend to be expensive and unwieldy for the style of racing usually found in local sailing clubs. For many of these have found a useable alternative in the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, or PHRF. PHRF has a national organization, sort of a clearing house, managed by a committee of U.S. Sailing, which published a handbook of guidelines and extensive lists of published handicaps for many boats.

The actual handicapping of boats in any area, however, is handled by local or regional committees appointed by local sailors for that purpose. The basic premise of PHRF is that these local rating committees use their unique knowledge of local boats in local conditions to determine their respective performance capabilities and assign appropriate ratings.

PHRF ratings are in seconds per nautical mile allowances. That is, a boat might be rated at PHRF 171 meaning that boat's total time for any race is reduced by 171 seconds for each nautical mile of course length. This is known as time-on-distance correction. Some fleets have elected to convert the ratings to a time-on-time method of correction. The formulas typically used for this conversion are of the form {A x elapsed/(B + PHRF)} where A and B are factors determined by the local rating committee.

SailOK Handicapping can comply with either of these PHRF correction methods. It also provides simple forms to maintain a subset of the Portsmouth tables. This is most useful when it is used in conjunction with SailOK Scoring, or some other scoring system, to score races. It consists of 4 primary tables,

  1. Base Ratings: Maintains a master list of Class base ratings.
  2. Active Certificates: Maintains a master list of active individual rating certificates and ratings.
  3. Archived Certificates: Maintains an archival list of retired or abandoned individual certificates.
  4. Portsmouth Tables: Maintains a partial list of the Portsmouth tables.

See Overview and Features for more information.



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