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SCUTTLEBUTT #354 - July 2, 1999

GUEST EDITORIAL -- Chris Bouzaid
I have read with interest the comments from various people about the PHRF handicap system. I have raced under most handicap systems including the CCA rule,(wide flat boats) RORC rule,(gluing steel plates on the deck to lower the rating), IOR (wooden keels and lead in the mast) and IMS (Just keep changing)

In my humble opinion the PHRF comes closer than any of them to doing the best job and it is for this and no other reason that it is the preferred rule by over 80% of racing yachts. Lets face it PHRF has been around on a continuous basis since 1840, about 160 years, to my knowledge, find me any other rule that has lasted over 10 years?

A good example of how rules can't measure all types of yachts is the J-125 and the Farr 40. On the race-track they are roughly the same speed. Under IMS the J-125 give the Farr 40 over 100 seconds per mile, under PHRF the difference is 6 seconds per mile which is where it should be, right!

The New York Yacht Club is the only club in the US that sticks to the IMS rule. Perhaps this is because the chairman of their rules committee is also the chairman of the IMS rule, his advice is to stick to the IMS Rule. In New Zealand we call this "Asking the rabbits to mind the lettuce". Over half their members with yachts can't or don't race with the club including all the asymmetric prod boats who can't muster a full class.

The PHRF system works fine with conventional yachts such as the J-35. Heavy displacement cruising yachts and lightweight yachts need more attention and the review of a more experienced person. John Collins has done a good job discussing this in his article in the latest issue of Sailing World.

The problem is that there is a PHRF committee wherever there is some sailing and it is impossible to find sufficient, competent volunteers to do this very important job. PHRF does not need VPP's or magic secret formulae's (most of the measurers have their own which make very little sense anyway) It just needs a few people with an objective view who understand the dynamics of a sailboat.

There are a lot of volunteers around the country doing their very best for all concerned. We the competitors should be doing all we can to help.

The single most important issue with PHRF and in my opinion where they keep going wrong is that they keep forgetting they are supposed to be handicapping the yacht, not the sailors who are onboard.

I would like to make the following suggestions that will make PHRF better, stronger and less controversial.

1. There should be a national group who determines all the yacht ratings. These people should be competent and they should be paid for their time and they should use the same basis for every yacht. This can then be adjusted, as performance data becomes available. This will produce a national list, each local area can only make standard adjustments for weather and sea conditions. (This will eliminate the "He was really fast last week we had better dun him another 6 seconds").
2. The allowances and penalties for Exotic Materials and Furling systems should be reviewed and made specific and standard throughout the country. ( A Kevlar furling Genoa should not be getting an allowance as a roller-furling sail)
3. Extreme yachts, i.e. very heavy and very light may have more than one handicap. The criteria could be any or all of the following: Course racing verses Windward Leeward, Heavy air verses Light air and Flat water verses rough water.
4. There should be crew weight limits based on the total weight of the boat. I suggest 33% of the boats weight as a maximum crew weight.
5. There should be a minimum simple stability requirement for all boats. If they don't qualify they don't get a rating.
6. The use of Hiking straps or Trapezes should not be allowed.
7. All certificates should be made available to everyone via the Internet at no cost.
8. All competitors should be encouraged to protest their competitors whenever they see something wrong. This should also be a race committee requirement. (How often have you raced against a boat flying a masthead spinnaker only to find it is not on the rating sheet)
9. The owners of any one off designs should be required to have another person measure their boat to ensure there are no errors. Anyone giving grossly incorrect information should be excused from PHRF racing for a long period of time.

The national body and all local PHRF committees should instruct all race committees to have equal Windward and Leeward legs. If they want to finish to windward then the start in the middle. This will even the field by averaging the upwind and downwind boats.

The 30-foot, two-man Two Guys On the Edge, keen to return to its home port of Waikiki, remained among the early leaders of the 40th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii as wind returned to the fleet following a day of virtual calm.

Two Guys On the Edge, with Les Vasconcellos and Bruce Burgess aboard, is one of two entries in the Doublehanded division, which started with eight Cruising division boats off the Palos Verdes Peninsula Tuesday. Eight smaller full-on racing monohulls will start at 1 o'clock today, followed by 14 larger boats Saturday and a single catamaran Tuesday. The latter are expected to overtake all previous starters before they complete the 2,225-nautical mile course to Honolulu.

At Thursday morning's roll call, the other Doublehanded entry-Vapor, crewed by Bill Boyd and Scott Atwood of Long Beach-again failed to report, leading to speculation about radio problems.

Two Guys On the Edge was positioned with 1,987 miles to go, compared to 1,985 for Kim Stebbens' 41-foot Hurricane from Seattle and 1,986 for Doug Jones' 49-foot yawl Pacifica from San Diego. But Two Guys was farther south than any other boat and was seen as going too far out of its way to avoid the Pacific High, the light-wind zone that is farther north than usual this year.

Pacifica reported winds of 13 knots from the northwest, the ideal direction for maximum speed. - Rich Roberts

Race website:

The European entry Merit Cup, and Germany's MK Cafe share the lead after the first day of the "Race 1 Sydney 40 World Championships", both having scored first and second places. Steered by Vasco Vascotto, Merit Cup put on a very convincing performance in the opening race of the championship, to take the gun by 1 minute, 28 seconds from MK Cafe. In race two it was the German's turn to taste glory, with Karol Jablonski grabbing the gun, but their margin over Merit Cup at the finish was a slender 18 seconds, after a very close fight all the way around the track.

The wind was generally in the 18 to 20 knot range, from the south-west, with the occasional gusts of 25 knots, which tested the crews, particularly on the downwind legs. There is no doubt that both Merit Cup and MK Cafe looked more professional in their crew work and boat handling than the rest of the fleet.

In the case of the European boat this is not surprising, as they have been sailing their craft since September last year, whereas the Germans have only just jumped aboard their boat for this event. Most of the other teams had their good moments, but on other occasions, they had that "just got off the plane" look, with some spectacular wipe outs, and very messy spinnaker work.

Standings: 1. Merit Cup Marco Greggio 3 pts (1;2) 1= MK Cafe Thomas Friese 3 (2;1) 3 Trust Computer Jochem Visser 8 (3;5) 4 Invicta Massimo Mazzaroma 9 (5;4) 5 Arbitrator Stephen Bailey 11 (8;3) 6 Blue Yankee Pride Farley Towse 12 (4;8) 7 Turbo UK David Walters 13 (6;7) 7= Sledgehammer Ron Jones 13 (7;6)

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have the best looking custom crew attire at the regatta. Honest! Frank Whitton at Pacific Yacht Embroidery can give you the quality stuff designed by California artists at really affordable prices. Call Frank for quotes and a free apparel catalog. (619) 226-8033 (

One hundred and eighty two of the boys - and girls - in blue are getting ready to pound a new beat on Auckland's waters for the next eight months. By early next week, 11 zappy new police boats will be ready to hit the Hauraki Gulf to patrol the waves and the docks for the America's Cup. The police will watch over boaties on the water, making sure they are both safe and acting within the law, and revellers on the waterfront.

In the last round-the-world race sendoff, there was a conservative fleet of 1500 boats on the water, but that was twice as many as the peak number of spectator craft at America's Cup regattas in both Fremantle and San Diego. The last time there was a census on boatowners in Auckland was 1976 - and there were 61,000," Paget said. "We think it is more like 100,000 now. "If 10 per cent of those went out on one day, that's a huge number of boats to patrol. We think 3500 is more realistic."

With those numbers in mind, the police have had 11 rigid inflatable boats built for their special fleet, and taken 182 staff on board the team. All are from Auckland and are being trained to work on the water: "If we have a major disaster out there, we need to be able to grab all staff and go out." Each boat will have four police on board, two to drive, and two to go on other people's boats, be it for rescues or arrests.

"But if a driver does anything that causes unnecessary risk to anyone else - driving too fast or too close - they have committed an offence," Paget said. "The maximum penalty is $10,000 or 12 month's imprisonment." And the roads outside marinas will be targeted with compulsory breath testing. -- Suzanne McFadden, New Zealand Herald

For the full story:

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

-- From Bruce Van Deventer -- If you are contemplating challenging your PHRF rating based on measured finish times, you might want to consider some statistics we took on our Olson 30 for weeknight one-design races last year. Over 19 races averaging 6.1 miles in length, we finished on average 45 sec/mi behind the winner, which put is in the bottom half of our fleet (but not at the very bottom). Our old boat may be 5-10 sec/mi slower than the tricked out winning boats, so the missing 35-40 sec/mi is the bad air we were forced to sail in because of our less than stellar tactics and boat handling. Finish time spreads like this are pretty typical for one-design fleets, even for very evenly matched boats. So how can an adjuster fairly adjust your rating based on your performance? On the other hand, you might routinely start as the slowest boat on the starting line, so your PHRF handicap doesn't take into account the bigger boats that roll you.

-- From Jim Teeters (In response to Jack Mallinckrodt) -- Performance Line Scoring is, in my opinion, one of the most elegant handicapping ideas to emerge in the last 10 years. Its use for AMERICAP, which seeks to have simple scoring, is entirely appropriate.

However, if I put on my beat-the-rule designer hat, I can't help but look for ways to exploit PLS' use of only 2 ratings, a low wind one and a high wind one. PLS will certainly work well if the mid wind ratings of all boats have pretty much the same relationship to their low and high wind ratings. But what if I designed a boat that was slow in those low and high winds but OK in mid winds? A combination of low stability and high wetted area might do that. It seems to me that this boat, although not much fun to race (let's call it Woof Woof 1), would have a performance vs. wind speed curve that is different in shape from most boats, and would be a challenge to PLS.

This was at least part of the rationale behind the ORC decision to not use PLS for IMS. IMS is a rule that people design against. If I am right about Woof Woof 1, then it might obsolesce the current IMS-optimized boats, which are, for the most part, good boats that are fun to race.

-- From Ian Venner -- A system used quite frequently by Race Management in the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Ireland, is the use of an open VHF channel for RM work. The fleet are aware of the channel used, and coming up to the start the PRO "discusses" the potential OCS with the boat marking the far end of the line.

As soon as the competitor hears themselves mentioned over the airwaves, they suddenly become very shy. Boats are not receiving outside assistance as the RO is talking to his team, and the VHF channel is available to all the fleet. This eliminates the confusion of hailing competitors & works in all wind conditions. This can work too with dinghy fleets where several RIBs are placed to weather of the line & equipped with waterproof VHF speakers. Same effect!!

-- From Mike Guccione -- I certainly respect Betsy Altman but this is doing the OCS hailing thing a bit much. With this kind of help I can take that guy off the bow at the start. If the race committee can now just tell us which side of the line is favored and the favored side of the course we can also leave the tactician home (we never listen to him anyway).

-- From Glenn McCarthy -- As U.S. citizens, haven't we offered an unlimited defense in our court systems like the O.J. trial? What if O.J. and his dream team were limited to 3 hours (or 6 minutes?) in the court room, with half of that time given to the States Attorney? Wouldn't that have been interesting?

The current protest procedures allow opening statements, cross-examination, witness testimony, cross-examination of witness testimony and closing statements. Just like the U.S. court system. As a US SAILING Certified Judge, I have listened to fellow judges who ask questions that are not germane to the incident, allow people to repeat themselves incessantly without adding new evidence and allow testimony about boats that were not even remotely part of the problem at hand. I have felt that judges should go through training on how to bring focus to the matter at hand and keep testimony fresh and not repetitious. How much time could be saved? It varies from situation to situation, I felt some protests I heard that went for 3 hours could have been completed in 10-15 minutes with focus training.

Remember, the "Facts Found" as written by the original protest committee are the ones that are etched in stone, no new facts can be introduced in any appeal. With a shortened system, you are potentially misconstruing a situation, with NO remedy available. The question I have for Bruce Golison is, do we really want to change our method of a fair trial in exchange for a speedy trial?

-- From John Fracisco-- Speaking about marginalized World Championships...the Maxi-One Design with all of 8, maybe 10 boats constructed, and the Sydney 40, with maybe 15 boats constructed. I guess how it works is the ISAF sees an opportunity for collecting some nice fees, and accepts a class as a recognized class, assuming that the class has its act together, permitting a world championship (this includes such classes as the Mumm boats, the Farr 40 and Corel 45, the aforementioned MOD and S40, and a smattering of dinghies). Eventually a class tries to become an International (or Olympic) class, but there must be a large hurdle to get there.

-- From Jeff Borland -- I'd love to comment on where the Santa Maria Cup money came from. First, we worked with Gary Jobson and Jobson Sailing to come up with a package and an estimated dollar amount for the production. Then we started shopping for sponsors. In this case, our title sponsor BOAT/U.S. decided that this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Once the TV deal was struck, getting other monies was easy.

The most important thing to think about when trying to get sponsorship is "What does the sponsor get? How many people will they reach?" If you are only able to reach the sailors at the event, don't expect too much. Make sure YOU leverage your sponsorships by getting them as much press as possible (more people see the sponsor's names). Have a professional photographer shoot pictures, and send them to your sponsors, encourage them to use them in ad campaigns - does two things shows the world they are interested in sports, and showcases sailing!

However, all regattas can benefit from sponsorships. Giving everyone a T-shirt, going further down the list with trophies, providing free beer, low cost food, etc.. helps to grow the sport, since people don't feel they have to spend too much to race. Most of us sailors look at the $50 or $75 dollar registration fee every weekend and say "What am I doing?"

But don't forget the prime rule in sponsorships, "What does the sponsor get?"

The trimaran Foncia continued her record-breaking pace as she finished a second day at sea today. The 60-foot Swiss trimaran logged 986 miles for 48 hours, for an average speed under sail of 20.54 knots. Co-skippered by Cam Lewis, from Lincolnville, ME, and the Swiss brothers Yvan and Laurent Bourgnon, Foncia is attempting to break the Transatlantic sailing record set 12 years ago by the 75-foot catamaran Jet Services V. The record has remained intact for over a decade, despite multiple attempts to better it.

Foncia slowed slightly but covered 466 ocean miles in her second 24 hours at sea for an average speed of 19.4 knots. Later in the afternoon she picked up speed again, clocking 21-23 knots under sunny skies and on relatively flat seas 180 miles south east of Cape Race, near St Johns, Newfoundland.

Foncia must maintain an average speed faster than 18.5 knots in order to beat the record of 6 days, 13 hours, 3 minutes, and 32 seconds set in June, 1986, by French skipper Serge Madec and his Jet Services V. On that occasion, Madec averaged 18.42 knots (34.5 kph) for the 2888-mile crossing.

"We're settling into a routine on board after our hurried departure from New York," Lewis reported by satellite phone. "These conditions are ideal and we are fine tuning the hydraulic controls that let us develop more speed from the sails and the adjustable underwater foils. "We had to put two reefs in the mainsail on the first night out, when the wind got over 30 knots, but for the most part we've been able to carry full sail.

Lewis and Laurent Bourgnon have already sailed Foncia (formerly Primagaz) into the Guinness Book of Records. In 1994 they set an East to West (Plymouth, England, to Newport, RI), transatlantic record of 9 days, 8h, 58m that still stands. - Keith Taylor

To follow Foncia's progress:

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

* Pricewaterhouse Coopers have just announced the results of their recent national survey of small to medium businesses. They were seeking thoughts regarding the likelihood of a billion dollar spin off from the America's Cup. The survey by PWC's Australian Centre for retail studies, reports that more than half of those surveyed have no enthusiasm whatsoever for the event, and they put the Cup Regatta at the bottom of their list of priorities. Cup organisers responded by saying that business owners had more pressing concerns at this time. Only 10 per cent of those surveyed ranked the Cup as their first priority.

* Gary Jobson says Team New Zealand, whilst already a powerful defender, could yet lose the America's Cup in 2000. Jobson is a well known USA television broadcaster and was in New Zealand as the guest of Yachting New Zealand for their annual awards dinner. As Jobson sees it, New Zealand's one-syndicate defence gets literally no competition until the Cup race itself, whilst the challengers will be getting strength and experience from competing in the Louis Vuitton series.

Jobson say that Team New Zealand must be lamenting the loss of Doug Peterson from their design team. Peterson, who has been deeply involved in two successive America's Cup winning design programmes, is now Prada Challenge's major asset. He goes on to say that no yachting commentator to date has painted the picture of the scene after an American win in Louis Vuitton. That American winner can count on the support of all the other USA syndicates - which will make that winner an awesome challenger. And Jobson concluded his review of the scene as he now sees it, by reminding New Zealand that recent history favoured the challengers. Three out of the last four winners of the Louis Vuitton Challenger series have gone on to win the Cup.

If you're not sure what hardware will do the best job for you, let the experts at Sailing Supplies help. These sailing enthusiasts not only know their stuff - they have the right attitude and a huge inventory of hardware and rigging equipment. And they'll ship the same day. Give them a call or stop by their San Diego retail outlet. (800) 532-3831.

Gary Jobson's Ultimate Sailing show on ESPN2 will feature the Santa Maria Cup match races. It's scheduled for 12:30 PM PDT, tomorrow, July 3, but check your local listings.

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