PHRF ratings are BOAT PERFORMANCE HANDICAPS. They are based upon the SPEED POTENTIAL of CLASSES of yachts. They are supposed to be determined from the actual observed performance of yachts on the race course.

PHRF ratings are not intended to be a skipper or crew handicapping system or to compensate for poor sailing ability or inadequate equipment. (as in golf handicaps)
PHRF ideally does not use formulae or measurements to arrive at ratings but uses race results to relate classes of yachts to their speed potentials. Thus yachts cannot be obsolete by newer or faster designs and PHRF ratings should be ideal for club and inter club racing.

New yacht designs to Lake Ontario do go through some data manipulations and analysis for initial assessment. This analysis is valid only until adequate race results are provided for review and validation of the rating.

A Standard Yacht meets certain criteria in that:
1) The rig hull and ballast are standard to the manufacturer's specifications.
2) The largest headsail without penalty has an LP of 155%
3) The spinnaker does not exceed 180%
4) The standard propulsion is either an outboard, which is retracted while racing, or a folding or feathering prop.
5) The spinnaker pole does not exceed the J with a standard spin.
6) The means of propulsion is capable of reaching SQRT (LWL)
7) Yachts with retractable keels must be capable of self-righting when the keel is retracted or the keel must be kept down while racing.

The Standard Yacht then begins by receiving the SP for that class of yacht. Adjustments are then made for the various credits and debits to arrive at the actual sailed rating or ASP.

PHRF is an honour system dependent on fair-minded yachtsmen and it is the sole responsibility of the owner to inform the handicapper of any changes in his yacht's allowances. A protest committee may at any time demand to see the certificate and require that the boat and sails be measured to assure conformity.

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN: The faster the yacht the lower the TOD (time on distance) ASP in seconds/nm. Using the TOT method of calculation we have a correction factor which represents a seconds/hour correction.

RATING CHANGES: ratings are not changed to 'stop' anyone from winning and every attempt is made to have rating changes reflect more accurately the SPEED

POTENTIAL as seen in race data for the class so that racing can be made more truly competitive on a skipper to skipper basis.

S.Cramer - Chief Handicapper
PHRF Lake Ontario Nov.30/86


Contact information for PHRF fleets:

PHRF Tools:

  • See US Sailing's Three Online Tools for PHRF Sailors on their PHRF Page