Owners Quick Guide

 A reference guide for owner.

This document includes basic information that an owner needs to know when applying for a PHRF-LO certificate.

PHRF-LO Quick Guide for Owners

This guide does not overrule the “Handicappers Manual”

Updated May 2013


It is the intention of PHRF-LO to provide fair handicaps with minimum expense to Certificate Holders and to make the handicapping process understandable to them through ongoing education.

 Handicaps are intended to represent well-equipped and sailed yachts.

  • No credit is given for poor equipment, poor condition of the boat or inadequacies of skipper or crew.
  • No attempt is made to favor one design over another.
  • No encouragement is given to modify boats in any way to gain an advantageous handicap.
  • Yachts shall be raced with standard interior fittings in place (cushions, head, tanks etc.) and safety equipment (including anchor/rode) on board.
  • For outboard installations, engine is retracted when racing and may be moved from the transom provided the engine and propeller combination is capable of propelling the boat at hull speed in calm water.

The aim is to furnish each boat with a handicap that fairly represents its speed potential, regardless of age, design, or origin.


Getting a Certificate

As an owner at a Member Club, you have at least 1 (one) representative “handicapper” of PHRF-LO who is also a member of your club and will act as your main contact for all PHRF-LO related inquiries.

To obtain a handicap certificate, whether or not the vessel is one of a fleet with a recognized handicap within PHRF-LO, you must complete a PHRF-LO application form available from our web site at http://www.phrf-lo.org. Instructions for completion are included with the form. You will submit the completed application to your club handicapper for review and forwarding as needed.

PHRF-LO Racing certificate belong to the owner and not the boat, therefore, a change in ownership requires that you complete a PHRF-LO application form.

Racing certificates must be renewed annually and competitors racing under PHRF-LO shall be handicapped according to the most recent handicap available at race time, whether contained in a valid Certificate, web roster, printed roster, or roster update. Any change in sail or rig after this date shall be grounds for protest.

Clubs have the discretion to allow within Club racing, changes to handicaps to enhance participation and Member satisfaction.

It is the owner’s responsibility to measure all sails in inventory or preferably, to obtain a sail makers certificate with all the required measurements. Your club handicapper may agree to assist you in this process.

It is the certificate holder’s responsibility to report any changes in rig, sails, hull/keel and verify the certificate data accuracy and to inform your club handicapper and/or the PHRF-LO office immediately of any changes to the yacht configuration which includes but is not limited to new sails on board or risk protest.

The information supplied will be used to determine if any handicap adjustment is required and will be based on the following:

A Standard Boat is defined as either a Class or Custom boat in top condition with good equipment, this includes:

  • 155% Genoa
  • 180% flying sail
  • a flying sail attachment point or otherwise a class defined sprit
  • standard class production mast
  • an engine able to power the boat to hull speed fitted with, for an inboard installation, a folding prop, or feathering prop, or a 2 bladed prop in an aperture or, for an outboard powered boat, a retracting outboard engine.

 "Standard Equipment" shall be what the manufacturer supplied.

 Boats are required to maintain all accessories and amenities associated with the model in its typical production configuration and shall remain in place as supplied as standard equipment for a boat not to be considered a “Modified Boat” (see below), this includes:

  • Stoves
  • Heads
  • cabinet and locker doors
  • drawers
  • steps
  • cushions
  • floorboards
  • headliners
  • tankage
  • engine enclosures
  • stowage covers
  • anchors
  • head and passageway doors

Carpet and removable tables are not required to be on board. A boat that has altered or removed bulkheads, permanently attached furniture or structural interior components shall be considered a “Modified Boat” (see below).

Minor fairing of the hull/keel/rudder is permitted to correct unfairness in production molds and establish original design profiles. Fairing of the trailing edges of the keel/rudder is not considered a modification, provided any chord (fore-aft length) of the keel/rudder is not changed by more than two percent from design dimensions. Fairing of through-hull fittings, rudder gudgeons, and propeller struts is also allowed.

Drop keels, centerboards, dagger boards, canards and other movable appendages shall be declared. Except for Keel-Centerboards. Lifting of such appendages during racing is strongly discouraged for safety reasons.


A Non-Standard Boat is defined as any boat that does not fulfill the requirements of a “Standard Boat”. Several specific modifications have prescribed adjustments to the SP for the Standard Boat and are described in detail in the PHRF-LO Handicappers Manual Part II, Section 7. These can be applied to otherwise Standard Boats to arrive at an Adjusted Speed Potential (ASP), they are:

  • Non 155% Jib LP (Genoa)
  • Non 180% Flying Sails (Spinnaker) either Symmetrical or Asymmetrical
  • Oversized Flying Sails attachment point either Spinnaker pole or Bowsprit pole
  • Additional use of a Symmetrical spinnaker on a class that normally uses an Asymmetrical
  • Additional use of Asymmetrical spinnaker on a class that normally uses a Symmetrical
  • No Flying Sails
  • Square top Main
  • No Backstay or backstay deflector
  • Propulsion

A Modified Boat is defined as any Non-Standard Boat with modifications that cannot be adjusted using the parameters listed above. Examples of this are:

  • Rig height (I) or (ISP) changes
  • Boom length (E) changes
  • Rig cross section/weight changes
  • Rig staying changes
  • Sail measurement
  • Keel/ballast weight changes
  • Keel/rudder camber changes*
  • Keel/rudder chord changes*
  • Keel/rudder depth changes
  • Interior modifications other than those allowed under “Standard Boat”
  • Any change in configuration weight or equipment carried (such as a different motor)

* Except as permitted in for a “Standard Boat”

 Those boats are designated with the suffix “MOD” added to the Boat Class Name


Standard Mast is defined as the mast supplied by the manufacturer as standard equipment.

Replacement Mast of different staying configuration shall be deemed a “modification” and must be reported. Replacement masts shall conform to the weight and section properties of the original to the extent practicable.  If variations in mast height exceed +/- 3% for a particular class of boat, the boat shall be considered representative of a different class for handicapping purposes.


When in doubt, report!!


New Class Handicaps

In the event that your boat has been identified as either, a “Modified Boat” or a “Non-rated PHRF-LO Class”, it will require an “Initial handicap” before a racing certificate can be issued.

In order to get an “Initial Handicap” established, your club handicapper will need to contact his/her District Chief to request a meeting.

  • The meeting must be attended by at least 3 different Member club handicappers from within the District.
  • There is no set date for meetings as they are established by the District Chief on a need basis.
  • It is rare for a District to hold a meeting during racing season.
  • Initial Handicaps for classes of yacht that do not currently have a version rated, will have a “New Class” adjustment of -6 to protect the fleet.

Once an “Initial Handicap” has been established, it is up to the District Chief or an appointed Secretary for the meeting, to forward minutes of that meeting and/or supporting documentation to the administration office of PHRF-LO. 

Once the information has been received by the PHRF-LO office and verified, a PHRF-LO handicap certificate can be issued.

The Organization

The organization is comprised of:

  • Member Clubs - with up to 3 elected or appointed PHRF-LO “handicappers”
  • 6 District Regions – consisting of Member Club within a geographical area around Lake Ontario and surrounding waters
  • District Handicappers – consisting of an elected “District Chief Handicapper” and all “handicappers” within the geographical area.
  • Central Council – consisting of an elected “Chief Handicapper” and 2 “Assistant Chief Handicappers” and the 6 “District Chief Handicappers”
  • Executive Council – consisting of elected positions including President, Vice President, Sec/Tres, Chief Handicapper and 2 Assistant Chief Handicappers.



For additional/specific information please refer to the most current copy of the “PHRF-LO Handicappers Manual”.

This guide does not overrule the “Handicappers Manual”