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.