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13 January 2005, 10:49 am
CSA Responds To Puerto Rico's Decision To Adopt PHRF
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Caribbean Sailing Association News

Following Club Nautico de Puerto Rico's somewhat parochial decision to adopt the PHRF rating rule in favour of the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) Rule, the CSA has responded:

Robbie FERRON, president of the CSA said: 'Although we respect the motivation of the Club Nautico to search for a more suitable rating system we are convinced that the type of system that is being chosen is not the most suitable system for the conditions that we in the Caribbean face.

'The CSA handicap has the tremendous advantage that it minimizes subjective judgements. Whilst this does bring with it other disadvantages it eliminates one of the most serious disadvantages that the PHRF has. We recall many years ago when PHRF was used in the region the many difficult situations that arose and the negative effect it had on sailing in the region.

'It is unfortunate that Puerto Rico has chosen to follow a different path to the rest of the region and without any reference or consultation to the regional body.'

Chief Measurer, Jeffery CHEN, added his thoughts: 'It is with some interest that I received the announcement of the Club Nautico de Puerto Rico's decision to join the SE Florida PHRF Group. Many of the reasons put forward by the Club Nautico's executive are valid and I presume that their deliberations on this were heavily influenced by geopolitics. Is Puerto Rico more closely affiliated with the USA or with its Caribbean neighbours? I suspect that this is an age old question that transcends and permeates many aspects of Puerto Rican life and that the answer has shifted back and forth geographically in the past and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.

'Puerto Rico has many talented sailors and has campaigned many successful racing programs; most recently have been the achievements of Titan XII as Caribbean Big Boat of 2004 and the impressive scorecard of Enrique Figueroa in regional and international beach cat competition. Puerto Ricans are an island people who love to sail and are passionate about yacht racing. Herein lies the fundamental problem, how do you adequately assign ratings to racing yachts when all the competitors are so enthusiastic about racing? At present there are several choices available to the sailors in Puerto Rico.

'There are measurement based rating systems, IMS, IRC and CSA or there is PHRF. Performance Handicapping is based upon statistics and thus highly susceptible to interpretation; as statistics are prone. For PHRF to be successful, what is required is a strong handicapping organisation, a racing fleet of well-established production boats and consistent racing conditions. Measurement based rating systems attempt to rate the speed potential of the boats by mathematical manipulation of physical parameters. It should be mentioned that quite satisfactory racing can be had under all the systems mentioned above.

'The Club Nautico de Puerto Rico has chosen to invest their efforts in PHRF. This has some financial advantages to the sailors in that the cost of maintaining the vast statistical database of race result information and producing the handicaps will be spread over a very large number of sailors throughout SE Florida. It is however interesting to note that in very recent times there has been a significant effort by some very influential yacht clubs on the East coast of the US to go away from PHRF and return to a measurement based rating system. There are now classes available for entries at Key West Race Week, Block Island Race Week, Miami SORC and many other premier US regattas for racing yachts holding endorsed IRC certificates.

'The decision of the Club Nautico de Puerto Rico is an understandable one but will unfortunately lead to a further distancing of the Puerto Rican sailors from their fellow competitors in the Caribbean. The one saving gracing in this is one-design racing and I hope that we will continue to see participation by the Puerto Rican sailors at these events. Also should any Puerto Rican competitors wish to race in any of the regional regattas using the CSA we welcome them and shall do what we can to facilitate them with a true 'Caribbean' rating.'

By Alastair Abrehart /
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