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Cruising Class
Email Sent: February 9, 2022

To more effectively accommodate fair racing for most of the sailing yachts found on the Chesapeake Bay, PHRF of the Chesapeake Bay will sanction a Cruising Class identified as (CC). This class is aimed specifically at cruising sailors and a less than ‘race optimized' yacht. This new class enables fair competition among like yachts in the configuration typically used by Cruisers and distinctly different from Racers.

To kick off this new 2022 offering, PHRF of Chesapeake is offering 1 year Certificates at no cost to both new and current certificate holders with open now for applications.

At the foundation are the existing PHRF rules, regulations and ratings that have been developed and continually refined, specific to the Chesapeake Bay and its prevailing conditions, over the past 50 years. The three tenets behind the new Cruising Class.

First, many handicap systems rely on extensive, complex and expensive measurements and a magnitude of other credits to determine a handicap. PHRF believes that the ratio of a yacht's sail area to her displacement is the most significant determining attribute distinguishing a racing yacht from a cruising yacht. To be eligible for the Cruising Class a yacht must have an actual upwind (full main and genoa) Sail Area to Displacement (SA/D) ratio of less than 22 based upon actual genoa size (LP) declared. Most references on SA/D use a 100% sized jib but this allows a loophole for yachts utilizing larger headsails. For the Cruising Class we use will the actual certificate disclosed headsail size to determine this critical ratio.

Second, the Cruising Class will limit a yacht's sail material to be: woven Dacron, Dacron/Spectra blend and laminated Dacron/polyester with woven or non-woven skins on both sides. For the class Non-Spinnaker rating (CCNS) a yacht is limited to 3 sails; Main, a jib less than 109% and a jib larger than 109%. The Cruising Class Spinnaker rating (CCS) does not limit sails that can be used, including: drifter; Code Zero; Asymmetrical, symmetrical, and cruising spinnakers.

Third, when a Cruising Class yacht competes, she must do so in a cruising configuration as disclosed on her certificate. The maximum crew is limited to the number of berths installed with cushions in place while racing. Fuel and water tanks and all cushions, doors, stoves, heads etc. must be in their normal state.

Yachts may carry both a Cruising Class certificate and a regular Class or ODR certificate. She may race in a Class or ODR configuration with multiple genoas up to 155%, carbon or Kevlar sails and a full race crew on her race certificate in one series and the same yacht with her Cruising Class disclosed suit of sails may race with family and friends using for example a roller furling Dacron genoa. In fact, we truly hope this occurs often on the bay. Yachts near the 22 Sail area/displacement limit, may find that with a 155% genoa they are over the limit but if she utilizes a smaller genoa or jib, that she will measure below the 22 limit.

If a skipper prints out the pdf version of the yacht's certificate, it will show the four critical sail area to displacement ratios. If a yacht fails to meet one of qualifying ratios, then a Cruising Class Certificate will not be issued.

The Cruising Class certificate is easily recognized on the PHRF valid list and certificates as it will say 'Cruising' as the 'Rating Type'.

To obtain a Cruising Class certificate a skipper can go to '' and select 'Apply for a Handicap Certificate' and complete the requested information. If a skipper is not sure about an entry, they should contact the Handicapper assigned to their club or race area. At the very top of the home page is an 'Organization Tab' where the list of Handicappers is located with each of their contact details.

A Cruising Class certificate is distinct from the informal courtesy rating provided by some clubs. When a race organizer asks a handicapper for a courtesy rating or looks it up at USSailing, what is provided is the base rating vs. the adjusted handicap. Looking at a Sabre 426 the base is 81 while a yacht in full race configuration rates at 75, while another with many cruising accoutrements and credits rates at 108. Credits applied for a Cruising Class certificate are meaningful and more importantly fair as observed on the Bay.

PHRF of the Chesapeake Bay needs skippers to ask their Clubs and Organizing Authorities to include starts for Cruising Class Non-Spinnaker (CCNS) and Cruising Class (CCS) in their regattas and series. The intent for PHRF cruising class members is to create starts for mini-distance races around government marks with predominantly reaching legs rather than the windward-leeward buoy races desired by racing classes.

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