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SCUTTLEBUTT #349 - June 25, 1999

GUEST EDITORIAL - Dan Nowlan, Offshore Director, US Sailing
PHRF may be imperfect, but it works for the vast majority. An estimated 19,000 boats race under that rule. Only One Design exceeds that figure. For comparison, this year US SAILING has issued 400 IMS certificates and 200 for Americap. There is no ORC Club racing in the US.

PHRF's simplicity is the overriding key to it's success. On the course competitors easily know where they stand with respect to the fleet. Any Race Committee, anywhere, can do the scoring. And .. a local handicapping board made up of peers can easily correct your rating based on observed performance.

Seth Radow is correct that the simplicity of PHRF produces ratings that are appropriate over a limited wind speed range and that only one rating may be available for multiple course types. In the past impact these shortcomings was less obtrusive. We took the position that "every dog had its day". Today PHRF must cope with non-competitive designs that have dropped out of IMS and active ones looking for a race venue, plus the sport boats. Since these new boats have improved all around performance characteristics compared to the bulk of the fleet, equitable handicapping has become very difficult. The typical result is bi-polar. Either the older dogs have too few days or too many or vice versa.

Jim Muldoon, President of US SAILING, also recognized this problem and last fall convened a working party to seek solutions. The consensus is that Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) technology to can be used to help resolve the ratings issues. Two forms of help were identified. One is to provide the PHRF handicapper with a tool that can assign values to the rating changes associated with course content, wind strength or boat modification. The other is to develop and make available an intermediate rating system that accounts for course and wind strength, but is not a development rule like IMS and has simplicity similar to PHRF. The term intermediate is used because this system is more than standard PHRF and less than IMS. Both concepts use the Americap VPP (controlled by USSA and not subject to IMS modifications).

The handicapper tool would work as follows: For a specific boat, run the VPP for a standard base rating course (e.g. W/L) and also for a point to point course like Newport to Ensenada. Then calculate the change in rating or "delta" between these two. The absolute speed around the course predicted by a VPP may not be accurate for all designs, but the "delta" is quite good. Add the "delta" to the standard course rating and obtain a Newport to Ensenada rating. Notice how this procedure eliminates much of the guess work.

While this example focused on course content, the "deltas" for different wind strengths or for boat modifications can be estimated in a similar manner. Tentative names for this service include: the DELTA Project; and the Handicappers Toolbox. For the intermediate rating system, there are two obvious approaches.

The first uses the "delta" approach to generate for each course type ratings for three wind strengths (light, medium and heavy). Once the appropriate wind strength has been selected, the remainder of the scoring process is identical to PHRF. The suggested name for this system is Ratings +. A version of the second scheme already exists and is known to some of you as Americap.

Americap has it's own VPP, separate from IMS, and employs a curve fit to the full IMS scoring that reduces ratings to two numbers for each course. One number is time on distance term (tod, seconds per mile) that operates like a PHRF rating. The other is time on time term (tot, seconds per seconds) that accounts for relative light air performance.

Scoring works like this: In PHRF, Corrected time = elapsed time - rating X distance In Americap, Corrected time = elapsed time X tot - tod X distance Each of these intermediate rating systems has pluses and minuses, but those details are not the critical issues. Those issues are what you, the racers, want.

The Offshore Office of US SAILING recognizes that useful handicapping tools or rating systems cannot be developed without input from the potential users. To achieve this I plan to travel to the major sailing centers and conduct interactive seminars with you. The goal is to identify type and form of products and services that fit your needs and help resolve problems facing your fleets.

Sailors at the Storm Trysail's Block Island Race Week XVIII raced around the island in ideal conditions today, finishing the 18-mile course in rapid order. Nineteen of the 20 classes started the race in reverse order of size under sunny skies in an hour-long sequence from two starting lines as the sea breeze started to build in strength for the first time this week. For the fourth day in a row Block Island's traditional foggy conditions failed to materialize.

Farr 40s, the remaining class, battled their way through three windward-leeward courses, under ideal conditions, with a steady breeze that built to 17-19 knots by day's end. The Farr 40s are racing in their national championship as part of their Block Island competition.

With one day of competition remaining on Friday, positions continued to change in several classes while in others winning skippers tightened their strangleholds on first place rankings for the week.

In the J/80 Class, skipper skipper Gregg Morash and his crew aboard the J/80 Adrenalin from Tiverton, RI, added yet another first place to their already perfect score. -- Keith Taylor

Selected results: FARR 40: 1. John Thomson, Sands Pt, NY, Solution, Farr 40 (2-5-[12]-1-2-1-4), 15 pts; 2. Edgar Cato, Coconut Grove, FL, Hissar, Farr 40 (3-2-1-[8]-6-4-2), 20; 3. John Ryan, New York, NY, Swordflounder, Farr 40 (5-4-2-[11]-1-3-10), 25. IMS: 1. Isam Kabbani, Middletown, RI, Rima, Ctm 60 (1-2-3-1-1), 8; 2. Bache Renshaw, S Dartmouth, MA, Virago, N/M 48 (2-1-1-3-4), 11; 3. Steve/Helga Garland, Hingham, MA, Wired, Farr 47 (4-5-2-2-3), 16. IMS 40: 1. Steven Loeb, New York, NY, Sirena, Tripp 43 (2-5-5-2-3), 17; 2. William Felton, Westport, CT, Montana, Tripp 41 (3-4-6-4-4), 21; 3. Craig Speck, Grand Rapids, MI, Vim 3, N/M 43 (1-8-7-1-5), 24. J/105: 1. Damian Emery, Shoreham, NY, Eclipse, J/105 (1-1-2-6-2-2), 14; 2. Robert Taylor, New Milford, CT, Hi Jinx, J/105 (7-3-6-3-1-3), 23; 3. Thomas Coates, San Francisco, CA, Masquerade, J/105 (6-2-3-5-9-1), 26. 1D35: 1. John Fisher, Peabody, MA, Jazz, 1D35 (1-1-3-2-3-1), 11; 2. Roger/Garth Dennis, Ithaca, NY, Smiling Bulldog, 1D35 (5-5-1-1-2-5), 19; 3. Nick/Tina Worth, Norfolk, VA, Widowmaker, 1D35 (3-6-6-3-1-3), 22.

Complete results and photos on the event site:

The 60-foot trimaran Pacific Challenge, dismasted and adrift off the northern California coast, is out of the Transpacific Yacht Race again-this time, apparently, for certain. "I'm still kind of dazed," said owner Clive Armitage of Eugene, Ore., who was not aboard when a delivery crew bringing the boat to San Pedro encountered disaster.

The Coast Guard took the three delivery sailors off the boat, and a private towing service was trying to locate it today (Thursday). Armitage said the crew was unable to cut away the mast and there were 45-knot winds and seas of 12-14 feet in the area where the boat was believed to be. "I don't know if I want to look at if they do find it," Armitage said.

Armitage originally withdrew the boat after it ran into rough weather in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and later put in to Newport, Ore. "My window of time to deliver the boat [to San Pedro] had run out," he said. But then a friend, Bernardo Herzer, offered to bring it the rest of the way, joined by Mark Simmons and Mike Peterson of Los Angeles. When the mast fell, Simmons was knocked unconscious by the boom and driven into a winch, fracturing some ribs. He was released after treatment at Mendocino Coast Hospital.

The boat, previously named We and then Sebago, was built in England in 1988. After it broke down returning to Europe after the '88 C-Star transatlantic race, it also was dismasted in an attempt to tow it. Armitage, who is originally from Hawaii, restored it in Ireland, later bought it and sailed it back across the Atlantic in '95 with the intent to compete in the Transpac.

The loss of Pacific Challenge leaves the total number of racers at 33, including only one multihull: Bob Hanel's 76-foot catamaran Double Bullet II, which was dismasted early in the '97 Transpac. The multihulls were scheduled to start July 6. - Rich Roberts

Event website:

COMFORTABLE Comfort is not a word most people associate with foul weather gear. PITY because the new Gill gear is truly comfortable. It's comfortable because it breathes; comfortable because it fits; and comfortable because it keeps you warm and dry. Even the price is comfortable. Check it out:

Down at the America True base on Auckland's waterfront, you will hear more Kiwi twangs than American drawls. The guy who runs the day-to-day show here, David Barnes, is one of New Zealand's most experienced cuppers. The chief boatbuilder, Peter Sowman, and the crewman overseeing the completion of the new boat in Auckland, Roo Stevenson, are Kiwis. Five of the sailing crew, including the man at the helm, John Cutler, have New Zealand passports.

"We have to be careful not to take over," Barnes laughs. This is Barnes' fifth America's Cup. He started with KZ7 in 1987, helming her to victory at the world 12m championships in Sardinia later that year. He was skipper of KZ1 in 1988, tactician for NZL20 in 1992, and coached OneAustralia at the last cup. He says he likes moving around. This time he is running the daily operations for the syndicate, and will helm the training boat - Chris Dickson's old NZL39 - against the new boat, called America True, in the run-up to the challenger series.

The Trues are the first challengers to set up base for good in Auckland. The crew will arrive in dribs and drabs over the next month, and they should be out sailing by the end of July. The new boat is still strictly under cover, hidden inside the monster shed on the village base, and supposedly still dressed in her bubble-wrap outfit from the trip across the Pacific.

If you stroll along the new village walkway, you can peer straight into the America True base - and maybe catch a glimpse of something you shouldn't. But Barnes says there is nothing that can stop it. "There really shouldn't be any secrecy in this America's Cup - skirts on the boats should be banned," he said. "And the boats should have little motors so you don't have to tow them out to the racecourse. It would save everyone hundreds of thousands of dollars." - Suzanne McFadden, New Zealand Herald

To read McFadden's full story:

Letters selected to be printed are routinely edited for clarity, space (250 words max) or to exclude personal attacks.

-- From Chris Corlett -- Nick Gibben's claim will be paid. The insurance company, Reliance, was recently acquired and the new parent company had to be straightened out as to what their responsibility is when they write a replacement value policy. Lesson learned, make sure that you buy a real yacht policy!

-- From Seth Radow -- PHRF is the most widely used system in the US... elsewhere in the world it is given very little consideration... much less respect. The rest of the world apparently prefers more statistically accurate rating methods. That being said, Mr. Johnstone said it quite well "How can anyone find fault with it (PHRF), never mind take it seriously". So long as one doesn't take PHRF seriously it "can" be adequate. It needs improvement and we all know that. Our friends at US Sailing are trying to help. I believe they are working on something for us.

PHRF simply cannot function for serious racers. There are inherent flaws with simple Time on Time rating systems that do not address changes in wind strength on the course nor course configuration (W/L and Random Leg is not enough). For those that do not race one design classes and those who do not race in the "furniture" classes, PHRF simply does not and cannot do a quality job of accurately rating those boats. For those boats, IMS and/or Americap are reliable and far more accurate alternatives for "serious racing".

Sure, Wednesday night racing is fine under PHRF. It, for the most part, is not that competitive. Many bring out friends and significant others for fun and to expand interest in our sport. In major regattas, throughout the country, I believe it is a disservice to the sport to ask non one design high performance boats to race under a system (PHRF) for which it was never intended.

-- Kevin Ellis -- From It warms the heart to see that so many have such a grasp of the obvious. I am well aware that there are other handicapping systems available and that PHRF is the most popular. I also understand a lot of club racers are enjoying themselves while racing under it. None of that has anything to do with that fact that the system is not working well in all cases. I enjoy drinking beer and banging around the cans as much as the next guy. Yes I do take this seriously because it would be nice to win a few races considering the time, money and equipment required to sail well.

Now back to the original problem. Getting a rating change is not as simple as walking in the door and asking for one because of the self-serving interests of the administration. This needs to be fixed. I think the idea of a -6 hit for the rating setters is interesting and I would be happy to contribute my time to PHRF if I thought it would make a difference. I am willing to give my time to something I believe in, but the way PHRF is being administered makes it hard to support.

--From Glenn McCarthy -- I agree with Scott MacDonald' first point that sailing needs money to expand. However, I see a problem when he says, "we need to make adjustments in the sport to attract major sponsorship agreements." What are those "adjustments? Hasn't a Pro circuit with prize money attempted? Weren't tight jibing legs added to America's Cup to make better TV viewing (yawn)? Scott is correct -- there is no excess sponsorship money to reinvest into the sport. As I said, the club's blow all of the sponsorship money on each event and there's nothing left for reinvestment in the growth of the sport. How is additional sponsorship money going to grow the sport?

Why would sponsors wish to line our pockets? What are we going to provide in events that for each $1 sponsors lay on us, that sponsors are going to receive $2-$3 in net profits as a result? That sponsorship money goes to a club to further that club's own goals. It does not get used for raising the sailing consciousness of the landlubber community. Is the delivery system of sponsorship money going to the right place, e.i. individual clubs? Should that money be directed to organizations whose job it is to promote the sport outside of our little closed world?

-- From Allan Johnson -- At 1800 hours on July 2nd the 49ers will commence their annual "Bridge to Bridge" race on San Francisco Bay. Can they catch the parade of tall ships that started 3 hours earlier? Should be fun to see. The annual race from the Golden Gate Bridge to Bay Bridge is a tune up for the 49er Challenge which will be contested on the City Front on July 3 & 4.

-- From Greg Tice -- I don't get the sailing and golf comparison. Recognition wise, we are nowhere near golf of even 10 years ago. Maybe if we had Dennis or Paul or somebody with enough personality to pull off a Pennzoil commercial, the public might recognize us as a sport. Right now we should shoot for American Express "Nobody knows me, but I won the Whitbread... well, at least my AmexCard makes me important"

The Baltic's shifty breezes once again conspired against some of the top ranked sailors throughout the Kiel Olympic classes fleet, bringing through some new front runners in each of the eleven Olympic disciplines. However, nation by nation, the Australians continue to show their prowess in similar conditions as those expected in Sydney Harbour in 15 months time.

For the Australian team and indeed a number of other nations, Kiel forms the part of their Olympic selection process, so months of training have gone into peaking at this event. It seems to be paying dividends as they challenge for the podium in the Laser, Europe, 470 men, Soling and Tornado disciplines. - Lazslo Toth

Selected results: 49ER 1. Alister Richardson / Peter Greenhalgh, GBR, 3 points 2. Marc Audineau / Julien Farnarier, FRA, 4 3. Morgan Larson / Kevin Hall, USA, 5; MISTRAL WOMEN 1. Jessica Crisp, AUS, 11 points 2. Lanee Butler, USA, 12 3. Ying Huang, CHN, 16; STAR 1. Mats Johansson / Leif Moller, SWE, 38 points 2. Mark Reynolds / Javier Hermeda, USA, 32 3. Vincent Hoesch / Florian Fendt, GER, 40 4. Benny Andersen / Morgens Just, DEN, 48 5. Marc Pickel / Thomas Auracher, GER, 50.

Complete results on the event site:

Final results: 1. Thomas I Punkt, K Jablinski 6 1 6 1 2 4 1 2 1 4 (28 points) 2. Barlo Plastics, A Stead 3 2 4 3 3 1 9 1 8 2 (36 pts) 3. Breeze 1 Terry Hutchinson 2 4 3 6 4 5 6 4 2 3 (39 pts) 4. Moby Lines, E Cheffi 1 3 2 2 6 7 2 6 5 6 (40 pts) 5. New Yorker, Chris Larson 5 6 1 5 7 2 4 8 3 1 (42 pts)

Event site:

This weekend's North Sail's Race Week in Long Beach has it's own website. Event organizer Bruce Golison has the site up and running now and results will be posted daily. It's got everything, including a link to Scuttlebutt:

AUCKLAND UPDATE (Reprinted with permission from DEFENCE 2000, which is available for US $48 per year from

August 1 will have a ring around it on most challengers' calendars. All challengers must confirm their notice of entry by this date, confirm their sail numbers, and provide the address where they will be based in Auckland. Failure to supply all this information will mean that they are automatically non-starters, and will forfeit their performance bond. As we write, there are still officially 15 challengers, only one, Team Caribbean, officially giving notice of withdrawal. Being realistic, it is a likely bet that there will be 12 challengers.

Inexpensive yacht