Moving Forward

Steve Corona has written an excellent background article on the origins of PHRF-LO.  Called Handicap Analysis

This well describes how the organization came into being, how the early determinations of handicaps were made, and how increasing sophistication of the review of assigned handicaps and assigning of handicaps has developed.  The vital question is - where do we go from here?  This is a matter that has consumed considerable time for your executive in the recent past and has two parts that have developed from Steve's article namely, assigning new handicaps and reviewing existing handicaps.

Taking first the assigning of new handicaps.  We have to remember that we are first and foremost a group that (fairly) tries to assess the speed potential of a boat that is new to the Lake.  We have various aids in this endeavor; there are the reported handicaps of boats assigned by other PHRF organizations, and given in the US PHRF records which applied with judgment give a useful guide.  We also have the Charlie Kramer formula which is given in the PHRF handbook and latterly, a formula proposed by Steve Killing.  These formulae both have limitations, but are useful in comparing like to like.  That is, the formulae help in comparing a heavy displacement cruiser to another heavy displacement cruiser or a high performance racer to another high displacement racer but not a heavy displacement cruiser to a high performance racer.  To control input data, an improved quality of data is being demanded.  Indeed, in future, handicaps will not be assigned if inadequate data are provided by the owner of a candidate boat.  A poorly assessed handicap will come back time and again to haunt us, and improved quality will reduce that likelihood.
PHRF-LO started a program of education a few years ago and that will continue to provide an increased level of expertise to handicappers.
Regarding the assessment of the fairness of handicaps, PHRF-LO has commissioned a new analysis program to provide improved cross referencing between the reported performance of boats included in the data base.  This program is dynamic and it is intended that this will be developed on a continual basis.  Our present analysis program compares boats to boats within each reported fleet, but it has a significant lack of calibration; the new program will be designed to give an opportunity to include that calibration.  In the future, the results of visiting boats to say, open regattas, will enable there to be calibration from fleet to fleet such that the quality of the data that are used to review handicaps is much improved.
Presently, the analysis and review program at PHRF-LO is better than almost any other PHRF organization.  Your executive has critically examined its present shortcomings and this will lead to the noted improvements.  Of course, the improvements can only be fully developed with the active comments and constructive critique of the membership, who are the users of the handicapping information.  The executive and Central Council rely on that feedback without which, the organization will not fulfill its potential.

Colin Alston
PHRF-LO Past President
Nov 2005