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Subject: rec.boats Frequently Asked Questions (Part 1 of 5)
This article was archived around: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 19:26:01 +0000 (UTC)
Posted-By: auto-faq 2.4
The following is the FAQ for rec.boats. Many folks have sent
contributions, some of which have been included. In some cases I left
things out because I thought they were not of general enough interest. In
other cases, I've left them out because I have not yet gotten around to
This document will be reposted about every three months. In addition, a
copy will live at wilma.cs.brown.edu, available for anonymous ftp in the
Last posted: 11/24/98
This posting: 02/24/99
1 Pre-introduction 1
2 Introduction 4
3 Sailing Stuff 5
3.1 Addresses of class associations for sailboats . . . . . . . . . 5
3.2 How can I get into sailboat racing as a crew member? . . 10
3.3 Is the MacGregor 26 a good boat? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3.3.1 Does water ballast work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
3.3.2 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.4 What's a good first sailboat? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.5 How do those rating systems and all that stuff work? . . . . 14
3.6 Who/What is US Sailing, how do I join, should I join? . . . 20
3.7 Where can I find out about collegiate sailing? . . . . . . . . 21
3.8 What about keels? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.9 Sailing simulators? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.10 Chartering and learn-to-sail schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.11 Formula for hull speed based on length, and its limitations . 25
3.12 Sailing in other countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
3.13 Sailing in Chicago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
4 Powerboating stuff 29
4.1 What is better? An I/O or an outboard? What's cheaper? 29
4.2 Are Doel Fins a good thing? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
4.3 What is a Hole Shot? Will a Stainless prop add to my high
end speed? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
4.4 Is VRO a good idea? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
4.5 What's a good first powerboat? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
4.6 Can I put unleaded gas in an old outboard? . . . . . . . . 32
4.7 Are there any powerboat class associations? . . . . . . . . 32
5 General Information 33
5.1 Addresses and numbers for suppliers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
5.1.1 NMEA Specification for inter-electronic communication 38
5.1.2 Anchor Chain And Rode, Other Hardware . . . . . . 39
5.1.3 Navigation and Simulation Software and Equipment 39
5.2 Safe boating courses and organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
5.3 Should I get GPS or Loran? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
5.4 What other newsgroups discuss boating stuff? . . . . . . . 44
5.5 What's the 800 number for the User Fee Sticker? . . . . . . 44
5.6 What's it cost to own a boat? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
5.7 Who can tell me about boat X? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
5.8 What are the laws about boats...? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
5.9 What's a formula for top speed? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
5.10 Accurate time source for navigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
5.11 Winter storage for batteries, and their state of charge . . . 54
5.12 Online information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
5.13 Should we split rec.boats? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
5.14 What sextant should I buy to learn with? . . . . . . . . . . 60
5.15 Boat pictures, and ftp sites for boat info . . . . . . . . . . . 60
5.16 Propellor selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
5.17 Binocular selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
5.18 Blue book value of boats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
5.19 Interfacing NMEA0183 to your computer . . . . . . . . . . 63
6 Bibliography 63
6.1 Magazines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
6.2 Nonfiction about sailing trips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
6.3 Sailboat Racing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.4 Maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
6.5 Fiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
6.6 Design, seaworthiness, arts of the sailor, boatbuilding . . . . 99
6.7 Films and videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
6.8 Misc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
7 List of Contributors 107
I have been reading and saving selections from rec.boats for about 8 years,
and operating various watercraft for far longer. I volunteered, in August
1992, to maintain this Frequently Asked Questions list for rec.boats, with
help from many other people on topics where they know much more than
The contents of the posting below consist of the information sent to me
by many people; less than 1/4 of it is my own writing. I am especially
grateful to Michael Hughes (no relation) for providing much of the
If you have constructive comments please let me know. (I am John
Hughes, email@example.com). If you have additions you'd like to see, please
let me know.
Several people have asked that I mark the recent changes with some sort
of symbol to indicate the changed passages. As you can see from the dates
above, I'm finding it tough to keep up with the "every three months"
schedule as is, and I'm reluctant to add any more work to the task. I've
therefore not done what they have asked, alas. I've now created an
auto-posting program to send out the FAQ, as is, whether I remember to
do it or not, every three months. Someday I hope to edit it thoroughly,
removing the pleasantly dated "Should we split?" section, and updating
the sections on GPS. But I've just been too busy to do so.
The information in this posting comes in three forms. There are facts
(addresses and phone numbers, etc.), generally accepted information
("How can I get into sailboat racing as a crew member?"), and opinions
("Is this magazine any good?"). Following a lead of Wayne Simpson, I've
put the initials of the provider of the information or opinion in parentheses
following the statement (e.g., (jfh)). There's a list of contributors at the
bottom. Since I only started doing this *after* I had put together much of
the list, a good deal of the information is unattributed, especially in the
book reviews. I apologize to the original authors for this.
By the way, my own bias is towards sailboating. This means that the
powerboating information is scantier than the sailboating stuff.
3 Sailing Stuff
3.1 Addresses of class associations for sailboats
Here are some answers culled from the net, but there are also two other
sources: The Sailing World Buyer's Guide and SAIL Magazine's Sialboat
and Equipment Directory. Both are published annually.
International Etchells Class Association
Pam Smith, Executive Secretary
HCR 33 Box 30
Bass Harbor, ME 04653
Tanzer 22 Class Associataion
P.O. Box 22
Ste-Anne de Bellevue
Quebec, CAnada H9X 3L4
Laser mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org
signup: email@example.com; mesage should sat
"subscribe Laser Firstname Lastname'' Contact Will Sadler
(firstname.lastname@example.org) for help accessing the system.
Laser Class Association:
8466 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Suite 328
Sarasota, FL 34243
Phone & FAX (813) 359-1384
Send them your name, sail number, type of boat, age, address, phone
and "$25 for a regular membership, "$15 for junior (16 and under), "$40 for
family membership and list other people in family.
612 Third Street
Annapolis, MD 21403-3213
(Steve Podlich or Sally Scott)
J/80 Class Association
27 Clifton Rd.
Bristol, RI 02809
PH/FAX (401) 253-4874
J-30 Class Association
309 Berkley Ave.
Palymra, NJ 08065
(609) 786-8958 (h)
Annual dues: "$25.00
55 America's Cup Avenue
Newport, R.I. 02840
Meade Hopkins Phone: (H) 510 256-8349
2575 Myradie Road (W) 415 739-8142
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Recently we have made a real effort to us the facilities of Internet
and other networks to connect 5-oh sailors. We have temporarily
established an EMail forwarding list through the help of Peter
Mignerey at the Navy Research Labs (email@example.com).
Other good contacts for the class at the moment are myself
(firstname.lastname@example.org, David Stetson and Ali Meller (am email@example.com).
To get on or off of the 505 email list send the following:
No message is needed.
Post messages for the fleet to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please report any problems to: <email@example.com>
US Flying Dutchman Class
(Official name is I.F.D.C.A.U.S - International FD Class
Association of the US)
168 Overbrook Drive
Freehold, NJ 07728
General class info
Promotional video - $14
Class membership $46/year
Montgomery Owners Newsletter
c/o John Anastasio
1000 W. Clay St.
Ukiah, CA 95482
Subscriptions are $15 year (4 issues)
e-mail to: John_Anastasio@RedwoodFN.org
International DN Ice Yachting Association
Contact person changes from year to year, but you can always
find out who's currently in charge by calling Gougeon Bros.
Boats in Bay City, MI.
For 1994-1995 it's
Lee Ann and Eric Armstrong
224 Plainview Drive
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
708 759 0023 (phone)
708 759 0026 (fax)
Catalina 42 National Association
339 Sharon Road
Arcadia, CA 91007
Annual Dues: $25
Catalina 38 National Association
1524 Santanella Terrace
Coronado del Mar, CA 92635
Annual dues: $25
Catalina 36 National Association
10710 Montgomery Dr.
Manassas, VA 22111
Annual dues: $25
Catalina 34 National Association
910 Orien Way
Livermore, CA 94550
Annual dues: 1 year $20, 2 years $36
Catalina 30 National Association
9141 Mahalo Dr.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Annual dues: $20
$28 (Canada & Mexico; US funds)
$29 (outside continent; US funds)
Catalina 28 National Association < NEW ASSOCIATION!
128 Biddle Drive
Exton, PA 19341
Annual dues: $25
$29 (Canada & Mexico; US funds)
Catalina 27 National Association
21 Lawrence Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21403
Annual dues: $20
Catalina 25/250 National Association
5175 Chase Street
Denver, CO 80212-0377
Annual dues: $20
$26 (outside US; US funds)
Catalina 22 National Association
P.O. Box 30368
Phoenix, AZ 85046-0368
Annual dues: $25
Capri 26 National Association
2403 Salem Court
Bettendorf, IA 52772
Annual dues: $20
Capri 22 National Association
888 Blvd of the Arts #204
Sarasota, FL 34346
Annual dues: $15
Coronado 15 National Association
26181 B Las Flores
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Annual dues: $29
Capri 14.2 National Association
10250 No. 92nd #210
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Annual dues: $15
Capri 26 National Association
529 Sycamore Circle
Ridgeland, MS 39157 (sc)
U S Sabot National Association
457 Sherman Canal
Venice, CA 90291
(No dues specified, assumed to be $12)
International Sunfish Class Association
1413 Capella S.
Newport, RI 02840
O'Day/CAL Boat owners association
(email firstname.lastname@example.org for details)
$18/yr - 6 newsletters, Boat/US discount,
P.O. Box 15
Raynham, MA 02767-0015 (mb)
Class Secretary, Honey Abramson
1811 Cavell Avenue
Highland Park, Il. 60035
$35/year, includes monthly COLOR magazine.
For owners of Catalina and Capri sailboats for which there is no national
association listed above, contact Catalina Yachts, P.O. Box 989,
Woodland Hills, CA 91367. Annual dues are $12.00 and include a one
year subscription to MAINSHEET, the quarterly magazine of the
Catalina and Capri owners associations.
See also: The Sailing World "Buyer's Guide" and SAIL Magazine's
"Sailboat and Equipment Directory," and Cruising World, particularly for
classes that are no longer being manufactured. All are available in many
3.2 How can I get into sailboat racing as a crew
The racers on the net seem to have a concensus on this (at least for
crewing on large boats). Since I wrote this originally, I got the following
words from mp, which seemed so relevant that I've put them first: "you
should add that if you want to get experience as neophyte crew, you need
to show up consistently. Most owners can put up with you not knowing
the ropes and would be willing to teach you what you need to know as
long as they know you'll be there every week."
(1) Go to local yacht clubs that have regular race series and post an index
card on the bulletin board saying that you are new to racing, but would
like a crew position. Give phone numbers where you can be reached, and
put a date on the card so that people know it's active. (Ask the club
steward about where to post the card, and whether it's OK).
(2) Go hang out on the dock on whatever evening the local fleet races,
and ask around if anyone knows of someone who needs crew. Come
dressed for the occasion; bring a foul-weather suit if it's windy, and wear
tennis shoes or boat shoes. Have a hat. If you bring other stuff (sweater,
dry set of clothes) pack it in a small athletic bag or knapsack. Show up an
hour before race time and let various people know you are there and
available. The club steward, the launch boy/girl, and the dockmaster are
all good choices.
(3) Make it clear that you are serious-if the skipper says "can you be there
an hour before the race to help pack the 'chute?", say "Yes." Volunteer to
help out with Spring work on the boat. If you have to miss a race on a
boat on which you've been racing regularly, let the skipper know at least 3
days in advance. Let people know that you are willing to come out every
single week to race. If not, word that you are unreliable will get around.
(4) Listen and learn. Don't go aboard expecting to tell everyone
everything you know. If it turns out that you know more than they do,
keep quiet about it. Your quiet competence will eventually show through.
3.3 Is the MacGregor 26 a good boat?
The MacGregor 26 has a very low price for a lot of boat. It also, like any
boat, has a number of flaws. The equipment is not as tough as that on
some other boats of comparable size (compare it to a Pacific Seacraft to
see the other extreme), and the fiberglass construction is not as
substantial either. If you are planning to do lake sailing on lakes of
modest size, perhaps it is the boat for you. If you are planning on going
into the ocean, perhaps it is not. The Mac26 is quite large for a
trailerable boat, which is one of its big advantages. it uses water ballast,
in part. It is more stable, even intially stable, with its tanks full than with
them empty. See below.
If you are considering a Mac26, you should also look at the Catalina 22.
Compare the solidity of the structures, the hardware, the rigging, and also
compare the resale values of similar boats in your area.
Greg Fox has kindly written a short dissertation on water ballast, which
summarizes the wisdom of the net on the subject (including at least one
practicing naval architect). It really *is* correct, and you should read it
carefully before you start disagreeing. Here it is:
3.3.1 Does water ballast work?
Yes, but not nearly as well as a more dense ballast like lead. We are
talking here about a fixed tank of water placed as low in the boat as
possible and completely filled. An air bubble in the tank means that the
some of the water is free to move to the low side and in this case stability
can actually be worse than if the tank were left empty. If it is kept empty,
the entire boat will float too high, reducing stability. So if your boat has a
ballast tank, keep it *completely* filled while you are afloat. To answer
the question in more detail, it needs to be broken down into two
questions, one comparing water with lead ballast and another comparing
water with no ballast.
How does a water-ballasted boat compare with a lead-ballasted boat of
the same length, beam, draft, freeboard and interior headroom, and the
same weight of ballast?
Water ballast is much lighter for trailering, as it can be drained. A water
tank is cheaper than the same weight of solid lead. These benefits are
purchased at a cost however.
The water-ballasted boat will have less static stability, This is because the
less dense ballast cannot be concentrated as low in the boat. The
water-ballasted boat therefore cannot carry as much sail as the
lead-ballasted boat, but will have similar resistance to motion. This
means decreased speed. Also, this ballast occupying relatively high areas
of the boat will require a deeper shaped hull for the same interior
headroom which leads to a shorter (vertically) fin or centerboard for the
same total draft. This adds up to worse windward performance. These
are the costs of the more convenient trailering and lower expense.
How does a water-ballasted boat compare with an unballasted boat of the
same length, beam, draft, freeboard, and interior headroom?
If designed to do so, water ballast could make a boat uncapsizable. At
least, it will increase the capsize angle. Water ballast also adds mass and
therefore easier motion in a sea and better way-carrying in a lull or a
tack. It will do this for little increased expense and trailering weight.
Basically, the advantages are bought at the cost of performance. A
water-ballasted boat can carry little if any more sail than an unballasted
boat. This is because it has little if any more stability at small angles of
heel. However, for the same length, headroom, freeboard, etc. it must
displace a greater amount of water equal to the tank of ballast. The same
length, combined with greater displacement and no greater sail-carrying
ability means less speed. Compared with an unballasted boat even more
than compared with the lead-ballasted boat, the hull must be deeper,
which again means less of the draft constraint can be allowed for the
centerboard. This means poorer windward performance. Also the draft
with centerboard up must be greater than the unballasted case. The
better carrying of way and easier motion are at the cost of slower
acceleration in puffs or after tacks. The increased mass is a double-edged
Why does it add little if any more stability at small angles of heel?
Remember we are comparing a water-ballasted with an unballasted boat
of the same length, freeboard, cabin headroom, etc. The increased weight
of water must be put in an increased underwater volume of the hull
located as low as possible. This added volume of water underneath what
could have been the bottom of the unballasted boat has no net
gravitational force under static conditions as long as it is completely
submerged. That is, neglecting the additional weight of the tank and
added hull material, the increased weight is exactly balanced by the
buoyancy of the increased volume to hold it. It therefore can have no
effect on either heeling or righting moment if the tank is full of water of
the same density as that in which it is submerged. Another way to think
of it is that the center of buoyancy is lowered by exactly the same amount
as the center of gravity.
Then how does it increase the capsize angle? At large angles of heel more
or less of the water tank rises above the waterline. Now the relationship
between the center of gravity and the inclined center of buoyancy becomes
more favorable than the unballasted case. All of the weight of the water is
no longer balanced by its buoyancy.
Could you make a SHORT summary of all this?
Yes. Just consider a water-ballasted boat to be an unballasted boat but
with improved capsize angle and all the plusses and minuses of added
weight while afloat but not while trailering. There is a cost in
3.4 What's a good first sailboat?
The Sunfish and boats like it_very simple, easy to rig and to move
around_make great learning boats for one or two people, but not for a
family. The Laser is a tougher first boat, but there's likely to be a racing
fleet nearby, and you can get an old one that's still plenty strong for very
My own belief is that a somewhat tired old boat is a good first one. It will
teach you something about maintenance, and it will let you take some
risks as you're learning_scratching an already-scratched hull is far more
tolerable than scratching a brand-new one.
In general, a boat that can be trailered and handled by one person is
probably best; you'll sail lots more if you don't have to get a friend to
Sailing clubs can be a great way to learn. (jh)
3.5 How do those rating systems and all that stuff
[Contributed by Roy Smith]
PHRF (pronounced "perf") is Performance Handicap Racing Fleet.
Unlike other rating systems (IOR, IMS, etc), PHRF ratings are not
assigned based on some sort of measurement, but rather on past
performance of similar boats. If you are racing in a club race or a local
weekday evening or weekend series, where different kinds of boats race
against each other, the odds are that PHRF is the rating system you're
using. In PHRF, boats are assigned ratings in seconds per mile. Your
rating is the number of seconds per mile your boat is supposedly slower
than a theoretical boat which rates 0. Most boats you are likely to sail on
rate somewhere in the range of about 50 to 250. All ratings are multiples
of 3 seconds/mile (i.e. the next faster rating than 171 is 168). I think this
is done as a recognition that the rating process just isn't accurate enough
to justify rating boats to 1 second/mile resolution.
Typically, a certain type of boat is given a stock rating based on past
experience. Just to make it a bit more interesting, ratings vary somewhat
depending on location; each YRA (Yacht Racing Association) can assign
its own rating to a class of boat depending on their local experiences and
conditions. For example, Western Long Island Sound, under the
jurisdiction of YRA of LIS, is famous for light wind, which tends to give
an advantage to certain types of boats, and YRA of LIS takes that into
account when assigning ratings.
On top of your regional stock rating, there are a variety of standard rating
adjustments depending on how your boat is rigged. The standard PHRF
rules allow you to have a 153% genoa. You can carry a larger sail, but
take a rating penalty for it. Likewise, you can chose to not carry that big
a sail and get a rating advantage. Having a non-standard keel, extra tall
or short mast, a fixed prop (the stock ratings assume a folding or
feathering prop), extra long or short spinnaker pole, etc, all result in
rating changes. Some boats have several stock ratings for different
common variations. For example, there are 4 configurations of J/29's;
masthead or fractional rig and inboard or outboard.
Once you've got your basic rating, adjusted for location and
customizations you may have done, you still have the option of petitioning
for a rating change based on whatever evidence you might care to present
to prove that your rating is too fast (or the other guy's is too slow), an
area that quickly gets into politics and boat lawyers. There are two
flavors of PHRF, Time-on-Distance (TOD) and Time- on-Time (TOT).
TOD is the more traditional and easier to understand, so let's start there.
In TOD, you get a handicap equal to the length of the race course in
nautical miles multiplied by your rating in seconds/mile. Thus, for a 6
mile race, a boat that rates 120 would get a 720 second handicap, i.e. her
corrected finish time would be 720 seconds less than her actual time to
complete the race. What people tend to do is think not so much about
the actual rating, but rating differences, i.e. if you rate 120 and the other
guy rates 111, he owes you 9 seconds per mile, so for a 6 mile race, as long
as he finishes less than 54 seconds in front of you, you will correct over
him and win.
The other flavor of PHRF is Time-on-Time (TOT). In TOT, it's not the
length of the race course that matters, it's the amount of time the race
takes. To do TOT, first you have to convert your normal rating, R, in
seconds per mile to a factor, F. The formula to convert R to F varies from
place to place, but it's typically something like F = 600 / (480 + R).
Actually, it's really something like F = 600 / ((600 - Rav) + R), where
Rav is the average rating of all the boats in the fleet. Locally, we use an
Rav of 120 which gives the formula with the 480 in the denominator. For
reasonable values of R, you get an F which is a number close to 1. For
example, a J/24 rating 171 has an F of 0.9217, while a Newport-41 rating
108 has an F of 1.020. To score the race, you take each boat's finish time,
subtract their start time (giving their raw elapsed time) and multiply by
their F, giving their Corrected Elapsed Time (CET). The theory behind
TOT is that in a slow race (i.e. light wind), the boats tend to spread out
but since the amount of time each boat owes the others is fixed by the
length of the race course (in TOD), slow (i.e. light wind) races tend to
favor the faster boats.
On of the problems with TOT is that there is no universally accepted
formula for converting R to F. With the sort of formula used above, you
can argue about what should be used for Rav. What we do locally is use
one Rav for the entire fleet, which is 8 divisions with ratings ranging from
36 to about 250 or so. Some people think we should calculate an Rav for
each division, for example. Some people think TOT is a total crock and
want to go back to TOD.
Contributed by Stephen Bailey (sb)]
Sailboats racing under a "handicap system" have a function applied to
their elapsed time, producing a "corrected time," and the boats place in
corrected time order. This function, which differs among systems,
attempts to fairly represent speed differences among boats.
There are two major handicapping philosophies: "measurement" rules
which handicap based upon measurements, and "rating" rules which
handicap based upon observed performance.
The International Offshore Rule (IOR) is a measurement rule for racing
boats. The IOR evolved from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) rule
The IOR concentrates on hull shape with length, beam, free board and
girth measurements, foretriangle, mast and boom measurements, and
stability with an inclination test.
The IOR also identifies features which are dangerous or it can't fairly
rate, and penalizes or prohibits them.
The measurements and penalties are used to compute the handicap
number which is an "IOR length" in feet. A typical IOR 40 footer (a "one
tonner") has rating of 30.55 feet.
In a handicapped race, the IOR length is used to compute a "time
allowance," in seconds per nautical mile (s/M) which is multiplied by the
distance of the race, and subtracted from the boat's actual time, to
compute the boat's corrected time. Longer IOR length gives a smaller
The IOR is also used to define "level classes," where no time correction is
used. Every boat in a class has an IOR number less than some number.
The Ton Classes, (Mini Ton, 1/4 Ton, 1/2 Ton, 3/4 Ton, 1 Ton, and Two
Ton), as well as 50-footer, ULDB 70 and Maxi classes are examples.
To account for improvements in design and materials, boats are given an
"old age allowance" which decreases their IOR length as time passes. In
spite of the old age allowance, about 3/4 s/M/year on 40 footer, boats
over several years old are usually not competitive, which is why IOR
handicap racing is dead.
Peculiarities of IOR designs result from features which increase actual
performance more than they increase IOR length, or other odd rules; IOR
hulls bulge at girth measurement points; a reverse transom moves a girth
measurement point to a thicker part of the hull; waterline length is
measured while floating upright, so large overhangs are used to increase
waterline sailing at speed; the stability factor ignores crew, so IOR
designers assume lots of live ballast; after the 1979 Fastnet race excessive
tenderness was penalized; full length battens were prohibited to prevent
main sail roach area, but short battens became strong enough that the
IOR had to start measuring and penalizing extra main sail girth; main
sail area adds less IOR length than jib area, so new IOR boats are
fractionally rigged; The IOR encourages high free board, and high booms
and prohibits keels wider at the bottom than at the top (bulbs).
The Midget Offshore Racing Club Rule (MORC) is a measurement rule
for racing boats no longer than 30 feet. The MORC rule is similar to the
IOR. It computes a handicap length from various measurements, which is
used to define level classes and derive time allowances.
MORC seems to work better than IOR because the range of boats it
attempts to handicap is not as large, and it is more quickly modified when
problems arise. For example, the MORC recently adjusted their old age
allowance to permit older boats to be competitive.
The International Measurement System (IMS) is a measurement system
intended for racer/cruisers. The IOR was not fair to racer/cruisers, so the
Measurement Handicap System (MHS) was invented, in 1981, and
accepted internationally, as the IMS in 1985.
With a diverse collection of boats, relative performance varies not just
with design, but also with race conditions. A 33 footer can beat a 40
footer upwind in moderate wind, but the 40 footer will probably come out
ahead in heavier winds, or on a reach.
The IMS uses a Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) to predict speed on
different points of sail in different wind strengths. From the predictions,
and the distance, course type and wind strength of a race, a time
allowance is computed for each boat and subtracted from the boat's
elapsed time to give corrected time.
IMS rule designers believe the key to fairly handicapping diverse hull
shapes is measuring a large number of points all over the hull and
appendages, measuring sail area accurately, and using an inclination test
(which is the same as the IOR). The VPP uses these measurements to
account for heeling, crew on the rail, the immersed shape, and other
The IMS VPP doesn't yet account for dynamic drag of a boat pitching in
waves, nor for appendage shapes which result in reduced drag. Some
parameters are based upon incomplete experimental evidence. For
example, the VPP predicts a greater benefit from full battens than is
realized in practice.
IMS defines a "General Purpose Rating," which is a predicted time per
mile around a particular course, in 10 knots of wind. A typical IMS 40
footer has a GPR around 595 s/M.
The Performance Handicap Rating Factor (PHRF) is a subjective rating
rule. PHRF was developed to handicap monohulls that didn't fit under
the rubric of other handicap systems. It has since become the most
popular handicapping system in the US, being almost universally used in
PHRF assigns a boat a rating, in s/M, which is multiplied by the length
of the course and subtracted from the boat's elapsed time to give
Ratings are assigned by a committee of the local racing authority, formed
from representatives of the member clubs. The initial rating for a boat is
based upon any information available, such as the boat's rating in another
area, ratings under other handicap systems, information from the
designer, ratings of similar boats, and a set of standard adjustments to
basic ratings (e.g. fixed prop, extra large sails, etc.) All ratings are
multiples of 3 s/M. For example, a J/24 rates around 171 s/M, and a J/35
around 69 s/M in many areas.
Since ratings are assigned and administrated locally, they may account for
local conditions. A good heavy air boat would rate faster in San Francisco
Bay, than in Long Island Sound.
A member may appeal a rating, presenting evidence, such as race results,
which supports the appeal. The local committee's decision may be
appealed to a committee of PHRF handicappers from all over the country.
Although PHRF is subjective, it still attempts to rate the boat, in racing
trim, with a perfect crew. Just because a boat never wins, or always wins
doesn't mean its rating should or shouldn't be adjusted.
Using this system, the slower the race, the smaller the percentage by
which a faster boat must beat a slower boat. To correct this, some PHRF
races are handicapped by multiplying a boat with rating R's elapsed time
by (C / ((C - Rav) + R)), where Rav is the fleet's average rating, and C
is a constant around 600-700, to compute corrected time. This system is
called "time on time", the previous, more common, system is "time on
The two systems only differ substantially when ratings span a large range
(> 30 s/M), or races are long (in time). It is not clear which system is
The Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) is a statistically based rating rule. The
PY was developed by the Dixie Inland Yacht Racing Association to
handicap any boat, including multihulls, which are excluded from all the
previously described handicap systems, based on performance in races.
The PY begins with a boat which is well sailed, and ubiquitous, called the
"Primary Yardstick." This boat is assigned a Portsmouth Number (PN),
which is the time the boat takes to travel a fixed, but unspecified
distance. In the US, the Thistle the primary yardstick, and its PN is 83.
Elapsed times are collected for races. The fastest boat of each type in a
race is assumed to have sailed a perfect race. The ratios of the fastest
boat's time to the fastest yardstick boat's time, normalized by the
yardstick boat's PN are averaged over all races to compute that boat's
PN. Statistical techniques are used to discard outlying data points. A
class with a large quantity of data, and no recent change in PN may
become a "Secondary Yardstick," used in the same fashion as the Primary
Yardstick. The Laser and J/24 are examples of Secondary Yardsticks.
The usual way to handicap with Portsmouth numbers is to multiply
elapsed time by 100/(PN) to compute corrected time. This is a "time on
time" system (see PHRF).
In addition, PY has begun to compute numbers for different wind
strengths. The Primary Yardstick is defined to have the same number for
all wind strengths. Using these numbers, clubs can more fairly handicap
races in various wind strengths.
Since the PY data are not broken down by course type, it assumed that
boats racing under the PY are racing courses similar to an Olympic,
triangle or Gold Cup course.
Below are formulas for converting among different system's ratings.
Accuracy of these conversions may vary. (And indeed, the last one has
been called into question by one reader, so you should probably treat it as
PN = PHRF/6 + 55 PHRF = GPR - 550 PHRF = 2160/sqrt(IOR) - 198
Since we know that the IMS GPR is the time taken to cover a mile (of a
particular course), in 10 knots of wind, we can estimate a boat's speed
over this course given its PHRF rating:
v = 3600 / (PHRF + 550)
So, a J/24's (171 s/M) speed is 4.99 knots, a J/35's (69 s/m) is 5.81
knots. The J/35 is 16% faster. Note that the standard PHRF increment
of 3 s/m represents around a 0.4% change in boat speed.
Using the IOR conversion, a one tonner might rate 72 s/M, whereas they
are actually much faster than that, rating around 54 s/M PHRF. This
illustrates the "advantage" designers can take of the IOR.
3.6 Who/What is US Sailing, how do I join, should I
United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), formerly USYRU, is the
governing body for sailboat racing in the US. Its goals are to govern,
promote, and represent sailboat racing and to promote the sport of sailing.
Activities include sailing courses; certification of instructors, race officers,
judges, etc; holding of various national championships; management of the
olympic sailing team; and updating and publication of the International
Yacht Racing Rules every four years. Basic membership is $35/year, but
various discount programs are available through many yacht clubs. All
active racing sailors should be members of US Sailing. (sc) The directory
they provide has the addresses of every racing class known to man. (wh)
Address: US Sailing Box 209, Goat Island Marina Newport, RI 02840
(401) 849-5200 Fax: (401) 849-5208
telex: 704592 USYRU NORT UD
compuserve #:75530,502 email or "Go SAILING FORUM" for the "US
SAILING connection." Executive Director monitors 75410,2126 three
times daily for members' or organizations' queries. (tl)
3.7 Where can I find out about collegiate sailing?
US Sailing publishes a college sailing directory, available for $7 from the
address above. (sc)
Jay Allen also says: [There is a college sailing mailing list. The address to
and one should write in the message:
3.8 What about keels?
Courtesy of Matt Pedersen:
(Definitions used in this discussion: length refers to the fore and aft
length of the keel, depth refers to how far the keel sticks into the water,
width is side/side width)
General discussion of Keels:
Keels help you sail in a straight line. They are also a great place to put a
bilge, bilge pump, and tankage. What you want is a keel that is very
narrow in width when going to weather, and a little fatter going
downwind. I don't know how to make my keel do this, but when I do
figure it out you'll be the first to know. Narrow width keels also stall out
(lose their lifting ability) at lower speeds when compared to a fatter keel.
This is a negative.
Longer keels are harder to knock off course than shorter keels. Longer
keels are harder to put back on course than shorter keels. Longer keels
have more wetted surface than shorter keels, which hurts light air
Deeper keels go to windward better than shallow keels. Deeper keels get
the ballast lower in the boat, which helps sail carrying ability. Deeper
keels find the bottom sooner than shallow keels.
About wing keels:
Winged keels have a lot more weight down low which dramatically
increases the stability they provide. The wings supposedly help
hydrodynamics. I don't think it's all that great. They do increase draft a
little going to weather (the wing hangs down lower as you heel). I'm not
real convinced that a wing keel when heeled and slightly deeper, but with
a right angle in it is more efficient at getting lift than a standard fin.
Wing keels are good at catching kelp, or anything else floating in the
water. They also stick in the mud better, if that's what you want. To be
fair they are a way to get shoal draft and a little stiffness too.
These are basically a keel with a big torpedo shaped blob of lead at the
bottom. They are not more efficient than a straight fin. They do get more
weight down low, which helps in sail carrying ability.
Scheel keels are kind of like bulbs at the bottom of the keel, but they look
cooler. They may have some hydrodynamic improvement over a straight
fin, I don't know. They get ballast way down low. It's interesting that
many designers use a Scheel keel instead of a wing keel, even though they
have to pay a royalty on it. That says something about how difficult it is
to design a truly good wing keel. By the way Henry Scheel designs great
Recent history of keel design:
Now if you look at the design of fin keels over the years, you will see a
great deal of theory being applied to get you the fastest shape possible.
Let's see, there was the swept back "Sharks fin" of the early seventies. It
looks fast, therefore it must be fast. They were "proven" to be slow, so
you don't see them much anymore. However, David Pedrick (who
designed Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes) has resurrected them for the
latest Freedom boats. Gee, maybe they are fast after all.
Then there was the "Peterson" fin. Straight leading and trailing edges.
High aspect ratio. Still pretty fast, but it doesn't put most of its weight
down low, where it does the most good. But then the IOR rule really
didn't care about that.
Then there was the winged keel of the eighties. They are great on big
tubby meter boats with draft limited by some rule, and you want a lot of