CLASS BREAKS – PHRF &
Posted December 22, 2008
Comments and Insight
from the Race Chairman...
I am pleased to be able to post the preliminary class breaks for
Acura Key West 2009 more than 4 weeks before the racing begins. This
year, there are 52 handicap entries (31 PHRF and 21 IRC).
First and foremost, I want you to know how pleased we are with the
IRC and PHRF turnout in Key West for what is unquestionably a very
challenging year for all. In such an extraordinary year with the
global financial markets, we don’t take participation by any of our
classes and entrants for granted.
With the goal of providing the best racing we can for all, Premiere
Racing has always given very careful consideration to race
management issues. It comes as no surprise that the economic
uncertainties and losses have translated into a smaller fleet in Key
West. Consequently, with fewer boats to work with, we are aware that
not every entrant will be in agreement with the decisions that have
been made. We wish that could be the case, but that simply wouldn’t
DIVISION AND CLASS ASSIGNMENTS
We recently made the decision to go
with 3 divisions and along with that, class assignments. The
divisions will be located in the areas where Divisions 2, 3, and 4
have been located in recent years. The Division 1 area, the
westernmost circle will not be utilized and the divisions in 2009
will be renumbered 1 through 3 west to east.
The two IRC classes will be racing in
Division 1 (formerly Division 2) and the 4 PHRF classes will race on
Division 3 (formerly Division 4), The Corsair 28R class will not be
racing in Key West this January.
We understand that this creates a
longer commute for some of the PHRF entrants who have arranged for
dockage in Old Town Key West marinas. I regret the timing of this
announcement, but we couldn’t make this decision until we were more
certain of fleet composition – we clearly didn’t anticipate world
events and the subsequent impact on our fleet size when we
distributed and posted the Notice of Race last summer.
As a practical matter, it is
approximately 4.5nm from the Westin Marina off the Main Ship Channel
to Division 3. When it blows hardest (from the north) you will be
in the lee of the island for much of their transit to and from the
CLASS BREAKS – BIG PICTURE
Once again this year, I
ask that participating IRC and PHRF boat owners assess the class
breaks in the context of the facts and considerations that I will
share with you in this letter. As always, I welcome your feedback
and comments, but will ask that you first take the time to read my
letter before contacting me with feedback or questions. My second
request is that only the boat owner or his/her designated
representative contact us and to do so
It is the most efficient way for us to manage the process going
forward and provide you with a meaningful response in the limited
time we have before racing begins on January 19th.
Participants should be aware that in some cases,
preliminary PHRF handicaps that have been posted may be adjusted
based on which class the boat will be racing in (in accordance with
the event specific PHRF Rules & Regulations).
The event-specific PHRF Rules & Regulations and the
Notice & Conditions of Race both speak to our philosophy on PHRF
class breaks. The same basic philosophy applies to IRC. We fully
recognize that getting class breaks right is as important to 'good
handicap racing' as proper handicaps. There are a multitude of
factors that should be taken into account when assigning the class
breaks including rating bands, LOA, Sail Area/Displacement Ratios
(up wind and down wind), etc. There are of course, some limiting
factors from an event and race management standpoint. These include,
but aren’t limited to, the number and type of boats entered,
practical class size and a maximum number of starts per division in
order to achieve 2 or 3 fair races on any given day. (It’s worth
noting that we have 10 races scheduled again this year, which means
one or more 3-race days aren’t out of the question).
Premiere Racing publishes preliminary class breaks
only after considerable dialogue with the PHRF Consortium, Appeals
Committee, and naval architects. We all are in agreement on one fact
- that there are a number of different ways one can divide these
handicap entries into classes. Before posting these preliminary
breaks, a number of us have spent a significant amount of time and
effort analyzing potential scenarios. In my capacity as Race
Chairman, I am the one responsible for making the final decision on
One of our primary goals, based on feedback from
participating owners over the years, has been to provide 'like
racing' - that is to ensure that boats which perform in a similar
fashion in a variety of different conditions are racing together.
There are a number of factors we take into consideration in our
efforts to ensure like racing. A boat's Sail Area/ Displacement
Ratio (both the upwind & downwind numbers) and Displacement/Length
Ratio are two key factors that come into play.
This worthy goal was simply unachievable in 2009
based on the number of IRC and PHRF boats entered and the
composition of the two fleets. We tried very hard to create a light
displacement, planing PHRF class but there were only 4 boats
(perhaps 5 depending on one’s definition of light displacement) and
the handicap range for this potential class was undesirable.
Ultimately, the determining factors for PHRF class breaks were
handicaps and logical breaks considering the number of boats per
class, resulting in three 8-boat PHRF classes and one 7-boat class
with reasonable to good rating bands.
2009 CONSIDERATIONS / ISSUES
On any given year there are unique considerations and
limitations concerning class breaks and this year is no exception:
There will be only 52 boats racing under handicap
rules in Key West next January. The IRC fleet will feature 21
entrants (up slightly from 20 last year) while the PHRF fleet totals
31 boats – down significantly from last year’s 55 boat tally.
The composition of the 2009 PHRF fleet has very few
“light displacement boats” while the IRC fleet features boats
ranging in size from the Santa Cruz 37 to a STP65.
There will be a total of 13 classes spread over 3
divisions (16 classes on 4 divisions last year):
Div 1 (46
boats): IRC 1 / Farr 40 / Swan 42 / IRC 2 / Farr 30
Div 2 (65 boats): Melges 32 / Melges 24
Div 3 (46 boats): J/80 / PHRF 1 – PHRF
These preliminary breaks feature 6 handicap classes
(4 PHRF and 2 IRC) with 7-13 boats in each class.
IRC Racing returns to Key West for its fourth year
with 21 boats racing (2006-17 / 2007-27 / 2008-20). These 21 boats
broke logically into what should prove to be two very competitive
classes – both racing on Division 1.
The mix of PHRF boats led to logical class breaks in
some instances. There are no larger size classes this time around,
and the 7-8 boat class size work toward the goal of participants
having a meaningful competition.
To ensure quality racing and the ability to get 2 and
even 3 races completed on any given day, we achieved a goal of
having a maximum of 5 starts on any Division again this year. Many
of us can remember past years with 7 and even 8 starts on one
The provisional rating bands for PHRF go from a tight
9 sec/mile in PHRF 2 to a reasonable 41 sec/ mile in PHRF 4.
5 Starts / 46 Boats
IRC 1 (Class 1A): An 8-boat class with
the biggest boat in fleet (STP65), 4 TP 52s, a R/P 45, Rodgers 46
and Martin 49. Handicap range approximately 1.257-1.516.
Farr 40 (Class 1B): The 12 one design
boats will start second on Division 1.
Swan 42 (Class 1C): 7 of these Racer Cruisers will
enjoy their second year of one design racing in Key West.
IRC 2 (Class 1D): This 13-boat class is
a fairly diverse group of boats that includes 3 King 40s, 3 Santa
Cruz 37s and 3 J/Boats. The scratch boat in class is a DK46 (1.214)
while the low rater in class will be a J/122 (1.095).
Farr 30 (Class 1E): Six Farr 30s will represent the
5th and final start on Division 1.
5 Starts / 46 boats
PHRF 1 (Class 3A): This 8-boat class features a
disparate group of boats with an estimated 30 sec/mile rating band.
Rating adjustments may be made to boats in this class (as allowed
for under the PHRF Rules & Regs) to account for the class
PHRF 2 (Class 3B): Most in this class are moderate
displacement boats. Features a very tight rating band of 9 sec/mile.
PHRF 3 (Class 3C): This 7 boat class
features a 36 sec/mile rating band.
J/80 (Class 3D) Fifteen J/80s will make
up the fourth start on Division 3. The race committee will likely
gap the PHRF 3 and J/80 starts up to 10 minutes.
PHRF 4 (Class 3E): Our “small boat” PHRF class has a
pair of S2 9.1s and J/24s and a 42 sec/mile rating band.
As always, we welcome your constructive criticism and
feedback. Keep in mind that we are reluctant to make last minute
changes, hence timely feedback is essential. If you see something
you don't agree with, we ask that you provide useful feedback.
Please don't just state that a boat does not belong is a certain
class. It will be far more useful to present the perceived problem,
why it is a problem, along with a potential solution along with your
This is an appropriate time for me to thank the PHRF Consortium
Chairman and his team for the time and effort spent in researching,
evaluating and debating to establish fair Key West specific
handicaps for our PHRF fleet. Their work is not yet finished as they
analyze four classes and potential for any handicap adjustments.
We anticipate another excellent week of IRC and PHRF
competition at Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica.
I look forward to seeing everyone next month.