Category: Uncategorized


Updated 2/28/2024


As long as boats of different designs have raced against one another, skippers have sought an equitable method of handicapping. Various systems have been based on boat performance or measurement, or a combination thereof. In Southern California, where PHRF originated, one method or another of performance handicapping has been in use since 1906.

Measurement-based rating systems such as IOR, or IMS have proven to be costly, and complex. Most importantly, yacht designers have been able to “out-design” the rule, resulting in inequities that cannot be corrected. Therefore, many skippers have turned to the performance-based handicap system as the best assurance of their continued opportunity to compete fairly against all designs, new and old. In response to this, the PHRF system has spread rapidly throughout the country and is the predominant rating system in use in the United States. In Narragansett Bay alone, there are over 600 boats rated under PHRF. There are no national PHRF ratings per se, and the US SAILING National PHRF Committee is only advisory in nature. However, a listing of all the PHRF ratings throughout the country is published by US Sailing and PHRF of Narragansett Bay frequently discusses ratings with other areas.

A brief explanation of the PHRF system is as follows.


PHRF performance handicaps are boat performance handicaps based on the speed potential of the boat determined, as far as possible, by observations of race results. The intent of PHRF handicapping is that any well-equipped, well-maintained and well-sailed boat has a good chance to win; and any boat that wins a PHRF race is indeed well-equipped, well-maintained, and well-sailed. Handicaps are adjusted, as needed, on the basis of the boat’s performance so that each boat will have an equal opportunity to win. This is the fundamental concept.

PHRF handicaps are not intended to reflect the capability of the skipper and crew. Handicaps are not adjusted to permit a poor or careless skipper to score in the upper third of the fleet. Doing well in a race, therefore, requires the exercise of skill and ability. Consistently poor performance, sloppy maintenance, or deliberately holding back will not result in a more favorable handicap. Conversely, if a skipper and crew sail the boat well and consistently place high this will not, by itself, lead to a handicap that is less favorable than that of the actual performance potential of the boat.

If observed, actual performance is limited, e.g. for a new boat or if there is very limited race results in Narragansett Bay, the committee looks to PHRF ratings and results in other geographic areas and at technical parameters to help establish an equitable handicap.


Under PHRF well designed and constructed boats are not expected to be obsoleted by new designs. PHRF does not use measurement formulas to determine handicaps because any formula, once established, can be circumvented by a clever designer. Under PHRF, as faster designs appear they are handicapped accordingly. PHRF does look at IOR and IMS ratings, and various technical parameters, to help determine a rating for a new boat or for appeals, but these design predictions are used for guidance only.

It is the intention of PHRF-NB to discourage “rule beating” and handicap boats in an “as-built” configuration. PHRF-NB will adjust the handicaps of boats modified from the standard configuration to compensate for any expected speed advantage due to boat modifications, sail size, etc.

Finally, PHRF does not make any safety judgments, or assessment or judgments on suitability of the design of any boat. We only try to assess the speed potential, and thus the PHRF rating, of a boat.


PHRF handicaps are intended for closed course as well as offshore and overnight races with a balance of windward, reaching and leeward legs where the entire sail inventory carried by each boat may be used. The system works well provided wind conditions affect all boats equally. It may not provide equitable handicaps for extremely short races, predominantly off-wind races, or predominately “beating” races or “twilight type” racing (i.e., dying breeze)

One simple, all purpose rating, in seconds per mile, is provided for spinnaker races and for non-spinnaker races. Although one rating may, for the non-standard conditions noted above, not be equitable, it is easily understood and desired by racers and race committee alike. Time on time (TOT) scoring is suggested for those races which are not “balanced” and have large PHRF rating spreads in a class.


The goal of PHRF of Narragansett Bay is to have a well balanced, objective, and competent rating committee. To achieve this, we attempt to have members:

1. from different yacht clubs and geographic areas within the bay and the coast of Rhode Island,

2. who sail different size and types of boats in varied regattas,

3. who have different technical backgrounds, and on the water sailing abilities, and

4. who consistently exhibit objective, honest and equitable opinions and recommendations.


1.1 The name of this organization shall be Performance Handicap Racing Fleet of Narragansett Bay (PHRF-NB). It will be an organization for sailors racing under the performance handicap system sailing in and around coastal Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound and on the open coast of Block Island Sound, and will be the performance handicapping body for the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association (NBYA) and those clubs and associations that desire to use its services. It shall be an association member of NBYA.


2.1 It shall be the prime objective of this organization to promote performance handicap racing of racer/cruiser boats on Narragansett Bay.

2.2 It shall also be the objective of this organization to establish and maintain an equitable system of performance handicap ratings for yachts owned or chartered by members. This system shall be based on the observed speed potential of rated yachts.

2.3 It shall also be an objective of this organization to assist yacht clubs and other race sponsors in the application of the PHRF handicapping system and to furnish information concerning the system and its application to interested organizations.


3.1 Regular membership is open to any owner or charterer of a qualifying yacht.

3.2 Club membership is a separate class of membership open to any yachting group, whether or not such group is affiliated with NBYA.

3.3 Associate membership is open to any person who has a genuine interest in furthering the objectives of PHRF-NB.

a.  For an organization involved in youth sail training an Associate membership may be considered by the Executive Council with approval of up to three (3) certificates at no cost.

3.4 The Executive Council reserves the right to deny or suspend membership for due cause.

3.5 The schedule of dues shall be set by the Executive Council.


4.1 Executive Council

4.1.1 The management of this organization is vested in the Executive Council which shall decide matters of policy and be responsible for implementing that policy, setting dues, and adopting “Principles of PHRF-NB”, and “PHRF-NB Regulations (current year)”.

4.1.2 The Executive Council shall be composed of the four (4) officers of PHRF-NB. These officers are (1) Commodore, (2) Secretary, (3) Treasurer and (4) Rating Chairman.

4.1.3 A quorum for a meeting of the Executive Council shall consist of three (3) of its members.

4.2 Nominating Committee

4.2.1 The Nominating Committee shall consist of the immediate past Commodore of PHRF-NB, the present Commodore of PHRF-NB, and the present Rating Committee Chairman. This Committee shall submit a slate of proposed officers at the annual winter meeting.

4.2.2 A quorum for this committee shall consist of all of its available members.

4.3 Rating Committee

4.3.1 The Rating Committee shall be responsible for organizing and administering the system of handicaps. It shall be governed by the “Principles of PHRF-NB,” these By-Laws and “PHRF-NB Regulations (current year).”

4.3.2 The Rating Committee Chairman shall call and conduct meetings of the committee and shall render a final and binding decision on questions properly brought up before the committee.

4.3.3 The Rating Committee Chairman shall call, as a minimum, quarterly meetings of the Rating Committee.

4.3.4 Rating Committee meetings may be held by in a hybrid format combining both remote access and in-person attendance. In addition, the Executive Committee, or the Rating Committee Chairman may in its discretion permit entirely virtual meetings.

4.3.5 The Rating Committee Chairman shall use reasonable efforts and due diligence to ensure, when virtual or hybrid meetings are held, that the remote access is available to the members wishing to participate.

4.3.6 The ” PHRF-NB Regulations (current year).”” shall be the operational guidelines to the Rating Committee in establishing, maintaining, or altering the ratings of yachts.

4.3.7 Each member of the Rating Committee shall have one (1) vote. However, no member may vote, nor be present for the vote, on the rating of a yacht(s), or any rating adjustments thereto, which directly affects the rating of any yacht(s) upon which the member regularly sails. To the extent that members may vote on the adjustment(s) or ratings(s) of those yachts(s) in the same class as the yacht(s) upon which the member regularly sails.

4.3.8 A quorum for a meeting of the Rating Committee shall consist of four (4) of its members.

4.3.9 In the absence of a quorum at a meeting of the Rating Committee, the members present may assign tentative handicaps to boats not previously assigned handicaps by the Committee. Such handicaps must be ratified subsequently by a vote of the Rating Committee at which a quorum exists.

4.4 Other Committees

4.4.1 Other Committees, as required, shall be appointed by the Rating Committee Chairman or by the Commodore, as appropriate.

4.5 Elections and Appointments

4.5.1 The Commodore of PHRF-NB shall call an Annual Meeting to be held in the winter. This meeting shall be held in the months of January or February.

4.5.2 The Officers of PHRF-NB shall be elected annually by majority vote of the membership present. Nominations from the floor may be made in addition to the proposed slate from the Nominating Committee.

4.5.3 The Rating Committee shall consist of the Chairman, who shall be elected in accordance to section 4.5.2, and ten (10) members appointed annually by the Executive Council at a meeting held not later than April 1st each year.

4.5.4 Any committee member, or member of the Executive Council, may be removed from office for cause by a majority vote of the Executive council.

4.5.5 Committee or Executive Council vacancies may be filled by appointment of the Executive Council for a term of office expiring at the next Annual Meeting.


5.1 Overview

5.1.1 The handicap appeal process shall incorporate two (2) levels. The first level is an appeal to the Rating Committee, the second level is to US SAILING.

5.1.2 Any member of PHRF-NB may appeal the rating of his/her own yacht.

5.1.3 Any appeal of the rating of another member’s yacht must be filed by a minimum of two (2) members of PHRF-NB. Appeals must be received at the PHRF-NB office within fourteen (14) days of the original correspondence.

5.1.4 All appeals must first be submitted, in writing, to the Rating Committee.

5.1.5 All appeals shall be acted upon within forty-five (45) days of receipt, unless no prejudice shall result from a delay thereof.

5.1.6 All interested parties shall be afforded the opportunity to appear, and present evidence, at any hearing conducted in accordance with sections 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4.

5.2 Appeals to the Rating Committee

5.2.1 All appeals shall first be made to the Rating Committee.

5.2.2 The Committee may table, or reject, an appeal if its feels insufficient information is presented.

5.2.3 The format for the appeal hearing shall be at the discretion of the Committee.


5.2.5 The Committee decision and all rationale thereof, shall be returned, in writing, to the appellant within seven (7) days of the hearing.

5.3 Appeals to US SAILING

5.3.1 After the appeal process described in section 5.2 have been exhausted, an appeal can be forwarded to the USPHRF Appeal Committee for resolution.

5.4 Appeal of Another Yacht’s Rating

5.4.1 In addition to this section 5.4, sections 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3, apply to the appeal of another yacht’s rating.

5.4.2 The owner of the protested yacht shall be notified of the appeal hearing fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing and provided a written summary of the facts presented in the appeal. See Appendix A: Rating Committee Procedures for appeal of another yacht’s rating by competitors


6.1 Only proposed By-Law amendments submitted in accordance with section 6.4 may be voted on at the Annual Meeting.

6.2 The Executive Council may propose any by-law amendment in accordance with section 6.4.

6.3 A minimum of ten (10) members of PHRF-NB may propose an amendment to these By-Laws by submitting such proposal, in writing, to the Executive Council no later than October 31st of each year. Notification of such proposed amendment shall be in accordance to section 6.4.

6.4 These By-Laws may be amended at the Annual Meeting by a two-thirds vote of the membership in attendance. Notification of the By- Law change shall be mailed to the membership at least fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the Annual Meeting.


7.1 Any proposal to dissolve PHRF-NB must be presented to the membership in the same manner as an amendment to the By-Laws proposed in accordance to Article VI.

7.2 After a notice of such proposal presented in accordance with section 7.1. PHRF-NB may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of the membership in attendance at the Annual Meeting.

7.3 Upon dissolution of PHRF-NB, all liabilities of the organization shall be satisfied to the extent of the assets of PHRF-NB, with the remaining assets, if any, transferred to NBYA.


Appendix A:

 Rating Committee Procedures for appeal of another yacht’s rating by competitors

A.1 Upon receipt of the appeal of another yacht’s rating by a minimum of two (2) members of PHRF-NB, copies of all documents relevant to the appeal are sent to the Rating Committee members and a hearing will be scheduled within forty-five (45) days. The owner of the protested yacht shall be notified of the appeal hearing fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing and provided a written summary of the facts presented in the appeal. The hearing will take place at time and location designated and presided over by the Chairperson the PHRF-NB Rating Committee. The parties to the appeal will so be notified.

A.2 During the hearing, the appellants designated spokesperson will be asked to present their position and the owner of the protested yacht will present their position. In the same order the parties to the appeal will be allowed no more than a ten minute rebuttal. The Rating Committee members will then question both parties to the appeal. When this portion of the hearing concludes, the parties to the appeal will be notified that the decision will be mailed/e-mailed within seven (7) days and that no further communications regarding the appeal will be acknowledged for one (1) year from the date of the decision. The Chairperson will then dismiss the parties to the appeal.

A.3 After this dismissal and the departure of the parties to the appeal, the Rating Committee will continue to meet to resolve the appeal and shall proceed to a decision. The Committee decision and all rationale thereof, shall be returned, in writing, to the appellants and the owner of the protested yacht within seven (7) days of the hearing.


Guide for Yacht Clubs and Race Committees

January 2022

PHRF of Narragansett Bay

Guide for Yacht Clubs and Race Committees

  • Purpose:    To provide basic information to assist Yacht clubs and Race committees organize and run regattas using PHRF-NB
  • Background:       PHRF-NB, which rates approx. 500 boats, is one of the larger PHRF fleets in the United States.  We rate boats, sailing in and around coastal Narragansett Bay and on the open coast of Rhode Island and Block Island Sound.  We are independent of NBYA, and the NE and Long Island Sound PHRF organizations.  This independence is not unusual in the country, and while far from perfect, has led to a rating approach that adapts and rates far, far more boats for far longer than any other rating approach.
  • PHRF Rating Committee Make-up:      The PHRF-NB rating committee makes all decisions regarding boat ratings, appeals, etc.  It is led by the Rating Chairman, however, each member on the committee has an equal vote.  We attempt to have a broad-based committee from different geographical areas on the Bay, from different yacht clubs and of different professional backgrounds.  If your feel your Yacht club or area is not properly represented, please contact the PHRF office to discuss possible committee additions.
  • Rules/Procedures/Rating List:     “Principles of Narragansett Bay”, our Rating Procedures, By Laws, Notes to Appellants, Standard Adjustment Guidelines, latest Boat Ratings List, others comments, and results of appeals are all posted on our Web site <>.
  • Web Site, eMail and Phone: Our web site is:, Our email is phrf-; , and our phone is 401-253-0207.
  • How to Handle Ratings: We email renewal ratings to all members by early March and applications and instructions are available from our office web site.  For your lowest hassles, we recommend the following:

1)  Your regatta/race notice state that “Valid 202x Narragansett Bay PHRF ratings are required.”  Certificate renewal notices are sent members in March of each year.  Help for any problem with certificate renewal can be obtained by calling the PHRF-NB office at 401 253-0207.  New 202x Certificate applications and instructions can be downloaded from our web site.

2)    Don’t get in the middle, keep the responsibility of filling-in the PHRF application and obtaining the PHRF-NB rating certificate on the sailor.  PHRF-NB does provide quick turnaround, is very flexible and will provide email service for special cases.

3)    Please be advise that PHRF does re-evaluate class boat’s base ratings and the criteria for adjustments from the base ratings in an attempt to stay current with technology improvements. Thus, previous boat ratings may not be valid for the current season.


  • Spinnaker and Non-spinnaker ratings:     PHRF issues both a spinnaker and a non-spinnaker rating for each boat. Your race instructions need to specify which one is to be used. Theoretically, the ratings reflect the speed difference between a spinnaker and a non-spinnaker, however, we strongly recommend that you do not mix spinnaker and non-spinnaker, within the same class.
  • Time-on-Time vs Time-on-Distance Scoring:     Races within the US are slowly changing to Time-on-Time (ToT), i.e. rating corrections are based on the time sailed whereas the earlier format of Time -on-Distance (ToD) uses time over a the distance.  The race committee can use the PHRF rating to score either way:  Your instructions need to state whether “Time-on-distance scoring will be utilized or “Time-on-Time” scoring will be utilized.  In general, we recommend ToT be used if your classes contain large rating spreads, i.e. greater than 30 sec/mile, your courses vary between “all reaching” and/or “all beating” since ToT would offer fairer scoring. However, Time-on-Distance scoring is more familiar to older racing sailors in the US and is applicable for Pursuit type races.
  • Safety/Boat size issues:    PHRF does not set safety criteria, e.g. lifelines, fire extinguishers, etc. PHRF does not restrict our ratings to any particular boat size or style. If you wish to limit your regatta to particular size of boats, e.g. “between LOA of 25 to 45 feet” or PHRF ratings, you must state such a restriction in your race instructions.  Likewise we do not specify instructions for safety in which our ratings are used for local club racing.  If you are the Organizing Authority for races traversing into Rhode Island Sound, Buzzards Bay and Long Island Sound or heading to Bermuda we recommend invoking the applicable recommendations found in US Safety Equipment Requirements – Coastal or Ocean grids (  We also recommend when a boat checks in at the beginning of the race that the boat reports the number of “Souls on Board”.  Your race instructions must specify any safety or ORC safety requirements.
  • Crew Weight Limitations:     PHRF does not restrict the number/weight of crew on any particular boat.
  • Class splits/Sport Boats:      Classes with rating spreads of 30 sec/mile or less are best.  In addition, boat types should also be considered. There is a major problem with “Sport Boats” e.g. Melges 24, 30, Viper 840, VX-1, etc racing in the same class as normal boats as their speed on reaches and maneuverability are significantly different than the norm. All attempts should be made to segregate sport boats into their own separate class.
  • Major Regatta and General support:      For a major regatta, the race notice should specifically state that current PHRF-NB ratings are required, and that applications must be submitted by a certain date prior to the regatta.  PHRF-NB would be pleased to work with you on any race notices, and offers to provide any last-minute ratings just prior to the regatta, but these should be limited to special cases.  Please feel free to ask for any advice from PHRF on class splits, regatta notices or race instructions, crew limitations, etc.

It is strongly recommended that organizations holding regattas in “Navigable Waters” heed the US Coast Guard’s SAFETY OF LIFE ON NAVIGABLE WATERS and submit an application yearly, at least 135 days before the event.  The application can be electronically submitted at:

The US governing rule and reason can be linked here:


Full document including Appendix A – See enclosure

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