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About Us

PHRF is an association formed to provide the means for equitable racing among sailboats of differing designs. PHRF of the Chesapeake issues handicaps, keeps master records, sets rules for its own high point competition, and performs the other services and activities common to class associations. PHRF of the Chesapeake is a class association of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association (CBYRA), and is a charted fleet of US-PHRF, a committee of the US Sailing Association (formally U.S.Y.R.U.). PHRF of the Chesapeake is controlled through by-laws and Fleet Policies voted on by a Board of Delegates which are included in this yearbook. Delegates are PHRF members appointed to represent the PHRF certificate holding members of their clubs on the Board of Delegates. The Board of Delegates and regional VPs represent members of PHRF of the Chesapeake at a yearly meeting to elect officers and review the regulations, bylaws and policies governing the association.

PHRF handicaps are established by local Area Handicappers acting together in regular meetings. A major objective of PHRF is to foster racing. Consequently, PHRF is usually the first class to permit new or “different” sailboat designs, rigs, or sails, so long as they appear to be safe and can be reasonably handicapped.

Handicaps are expressed as seconds per mile time allowance, and are based on the Handicappers' assessment of the relative speed potentials of the rated sailboats. Ratings are periodically reviewed and refined as necessary. Sailboats from less than 20 feet in length overall (LOA) to over 70 feet race under the rule. The sailboats are usually divided into sub-groups based on ratings to provide for closer racing in larger fleets. A brief history of PHRF of the Chesapeake is included in this yearbook.

Our Role in the CBYRA Handicap Division

In 1976, PHRF was sanctioned by CBYRA. In 1981, USYRU (now US Sailing) recognized PHRF as a full committee under its Offshore Racing Council. PHRF of the Chesapeake is the largest sanctioned class in the CBYRA Handicap Division. The member of the Handicap Division with the largest membership has right of first refusal to chair the Handicap Division at CBYRA and represent all handicap racing as a voting member at CBYRA Executive Board meetings. The President of PHRF of the Chesapeake appoints a member of our association to represent our members and be the communications conduit between CBYRA and PHRF of the Chesapeake.

US PHRF and US Sailing

The national US PHRF committee is an arm of the US Sailing Association (US Sailing) Offshore Council, which controls all US Sailing handicap racing except multi-hulls. US Sailing is the name of the national sailing authority (previously known as USYRU) adopted by vote in 1991. In 1992, cruising multi-hulls were admitted to the US PHRF organization, and are now represented on the US PHRF board.

The US PHRF Committee is made up of ten members and a chairman. The members are appointed for a three year term, and are generally selected from the larger PHRF fleets. The Committee was formed to provide a national forum for the individual PHRF areas, to voice their problems, and find solutions. Although the Committee provides guidance and services, each individual fleet operates autonomously. PHRF of the Chesapeake has had a member on the US PHRF Committee for many years, and has taken an active role in the operations of the Committee.

One activity the Committee has instituted is the National Handicap Appeal Board. This Board is composed of a chairman and four other members. Members do not serve on the Board when an appeal from their area is being decided. Of all of the appeals submitted thus far, only thirteen percent have been accepted for hearing by the Board. The Board hears only appeals that it believes have merit, and the decision of the board is final. Less than 50 appeals have been submitted since the Board was formed.

Though its participation in the US PHRF committee, our local fleet benefits from the exchange of information with other areas and the discussion of contemporary issues. PHRF of the Chesapeake is recognized as a valuable contributor to the effectiveness of US PHRF.

How to Join PHRF of the Chesapeake

Join online here. To receive an application package for PHRF membership contact your club PHRF delegate or area handicapper, or mail requests.

Requirements for Membership and a Valid Rating Certificate

A regular membership is required to obtain a valid rating for your sailboat. Any person representing themselves, a syndicate, or an organization, who is the owner or charterer of a sailboat principally berthed, or raced, in the vicinity of the Chesapeake Bay, may apply for membership and a rating. Your boat must be a monohull sailboat, and must meet the safety requirements (see later sections of the yearbook for details). All prospective members are encouraged to join a local club that is affiliated with CBYRA, and/or become a member of CBYRA. Local clubs and CBYRA perform valuable functions and services to the sailboat racing community. CBYRA and/or local club membership is required for boats competing for PHRF high point awards. Details on how to join CBYRA are available from the CBYRA office at 612 Third Street, Suite 4A, Annapolis, MD 21403, by calling 410-990-9393, or by visiting their website at The CBYRA website also has links to many sailing clubs on the Chesapeake Bay.

Requirements for Associate Membership

Associate Membership requires no club affiliations for persons not requesting a valid certificate. Associate memberships are available to those not wishing to obtain a valid rating and are not represented on the Board of Delegates, but receive all PHRF mailings (Mainsheet, Yearbook), except the Valid Listing subscription, which is available to all members at a minimal fee. If you wish to become an associate member, simply complete the name and address information on the application form and send, with application fees, to PHRF at the address above.

Completing the Membership/Rating Application

Joining PHRF is easy! Obtain a PHRF membership application package as described above, or from a PHRF of the Chesapeake area handicapper. A list of area handicappers and the clubs they serve may be found elsewhere in this yearbook. Feel free to contact the handicapper affiliated with your club or area if you have any questions about the application.

If you are applying for a regular membership, you must complete the application form and the Certification of Compliance for special regulations for safety requirements. The application form asks you to obtain a basic set of descriptive dimensions of your sailboat from brochures or simple first-hand measurements, enter them onto an application form. The Certification of Compliance for special regulations for safety requirements requires you to certify that your boat meets applicable safety requirements. You must return the completed application form with the correct fees to your area handicapper. You should keep a copy of your Certification of Compliance on your boat.

You should identify your boat by name, model (i.e., Catalina 27), and sail number. Check with CBYRA (see above), our local yacht racing association, to obtain a proper sail number.

Carefully review the special regulations for safety requirements (included in this Yearbook or on our website) and check off 4P, 5P, or 6P on the application form. After making certain that your sailboat complies with the category (4P, 5P, or 6P) you have chosen, complete and sign the Certificate of Compliance form. Do not send the Certificate of Compliance to PHRF, as it must be kept on board your sailboat whenever you race. Generally, data taken from manufacturers' literature, or sales brochures of the sailboat is sufficiently accurate, if the sailboat has not be modified. If you doubt the accuracy of the brochures measurement, or believe your sailboat is different from a standard example of its class, make the measurements yourself and make a notation on the application. Measurement of spinnaker poles and sails are best taken by you or your sailmaker.

After completing the necessary information about your boat and sails on the application form (with the help of your area handicapper, if needed), be certain to read and sign it at the bottom. Send the completed application, with the required fee, to: PHRF of the Chesapeake. You must provide the required fees at the time you submit your application for a rating. Payment may be made online at our website ( or by submitting your check or money order with your application. If you choose the personal check option, don't forget to enclose your check with your application forms.

When the completed application and payment are received, the data from your application is entered into the PHRF database, and then a handicapper will review the information and determine a rating for your boat. When the review of your application is complete, a valid rating certificate will be issued to you along with a copy of the current PHRF Yearbook. The valid rating certificate will be in effect until 31 March of the year following its issue. Ratings must be renewed on a yearly basis to remain effective.

If you wish to view all PHRF of the Chesapeake member sailboats, and their valid handicap ratings, check our web site (‘') for the latest listing. This valid list, updated weekly throughout the racing season (April – October), is available for on-line viewing. The final valid list is published in early November and will remain on the website until the expiration date (31 March of the following year).

© 2024 PHRF of the Chesapeake, Inc