Getting a PHRF rating

Image is a racer / cruiser. Since there is no Catalina 38 one design fleet in the Seattle area, the way to race image is under PHRF handicap.

PHRF stands for Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet and was established in Southern California as an alternative to the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and International Offshore Racing (IOR) rating systems. In order to allow different boats with different performance characteristics to race competitively, each boat gets assigned a handicap in seconds per mile. Image will most likely rate between 130 and 140 seconds a mile. This means that if Image is racing a J/35 (which rates 72 in One Design configuration), the J/35 needs to beat image by 58-68 seconds per mile in order to win. So on a 12 mile course you are looking at 11 to 13 minutes.

PHRF ratings are based on the dimensions of the boat and it’s sails such as Length over all, Length of the waterline, Beam, Displacement, Ballast, Length of the luff, leech and foot of the sails, etc. Some credits are given for not using spinnakers, propellers which induce additional drag, etc.

To my knowledge, Image has not participated in a bunch of races in the past. Therefore it is time to get her rated. Here is how that works on Puget Sound:

  1. Join a yacht club that is member of PHRF NW. This is actually optional, one could get a boat rated by working directly with PHRF NW, however, for me it made a lot of sense to join STYC since they put on a lot of races and their membership dues are very affordable. Check out their website for details.
  2. Join PHRF-NW.
  3. Submit a rating form and get a rating from the handicapper. This is what I filled in for Image.

I hope to receive a rating by the end of this week along with an assignment for sail numbers. Once that is done, the new sails can go on the boat.

2 thoughts on “Getting a PHRF rating”

  1. I thought sail numbers were assigned by PIYA ( It’s been a while since we got ours. The loft may tell you that you don’t need the “USA” as well, but I’d recommend it.

    Windworks used to be an Associated Club for PHRF-NW, so you didn’t need to be a yacht club member if it was a Windworks boat. Not sure if they still are – we joined STYC (as everyone should :)).

    You should also make sure you keep your US Sailing membership up to date (technically required for some races). And consider the PIYA safety requirements. You may or may not enter a race that requires PIYA (I’d recommend the Northern Century in August), but they’re generally good guidelines anyway.

    1. You are right, sail numbers are assigned by PIYA for boats in the PNW. It took quite a while to figure out who at PIYA was in charge of sail numbers since they are a volunteer organization and the person who used to assign numbers sadly passed away. In the process I also talked to US Sailing. If need be they can also assign a sail number in the PNW but they prefer PIYA to do it in order to avoid the same number being assigned more than once.

      Mike Beste from STYC who handicapped the boat helped me a lot with this, yet another reason to join STYC. I agree everyone should become a member, their membership fee is super affordable and they are just a phenomenal organization.

      I am working on making sure Image meets PIYA requirements, for the races that we have been participating in so far we were OK, but I definitely have ambitions to do some races that have higher requirements. I have not looked at them side by side, but do you happen to know if PIYA safety requirements line up with ISAF requirements?

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