The fleet for North America's largest keelboat regatta has fallen into place with the posting of PHRF class breaks for Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, presented by Nautica.
A wide variety of 112 handicap boats from 24 to 75 feet will compete in 11 classes, the most ever, reaffirming the event's status as the "unofficial" PHRF National Championship.
They are among 296 total entries to date, complementing 184 one-design boats. The class breaks, individual boat handicaps, complete entry lists and much more information may be seen at www.Premiere-Racing.com.
The PHRF handicaps and preliminary class breaks were posted by Premiere Racing and came with a holiday flair:
'Twas the night after Christmas and all through the town
Just one creature was stirring and shaking handicaps down.
The boats were all listed on the spreadsheet with care
in hopes that The Answer soon would be there.
The entrants were anxious, and checked the web site,
seeing visions of appeals and a 3 second per mile fight.
With Bruce on the cell phone and Peter on email,
we waited to see what the classes would entail.
When out with the sub-classes there arose such a clatter,
I looked up from my database to see what was a matter.
Alert to the details we squinted at apps,
recalculated the DLs and stared at the stats.
Sail Area / Displacement, both upwind and down,
gave an aura of science---numeric and profound.
And what to the event director's eyes did appear
but an answer, a scratch sheet, all perfectly clear!
With a little adjustment---some updates and changes,
he knew in a moment they'd found the right ranges.
Far better than rating bands with classes they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.
On Big Boats, on Swans! On sport boats and PHRF sevens!
On Corsairs, on IMS, on (can it be) PHRF ELEVENs?
Four racing circles, 21 classes, 18 starts,
Now put aside the numbers and race with your hearts!
Race they will, for five days Monday through Friday, Jan. 19-23. Currently, the entry list represents 16 countries and 30 states coast to coast.
Event Director Peter CRAIG saluted PHRF Consortium Chairman Bruce BINGMAN and his seven PHRF experts from sailing hot spots around the country for their efforts in assigning handicaps tailored to Key West conditions and courses. He noted "the hundreds of hours of work spent in researching, evaluating and debating to establish Key West specific handicaps."
That done, the aim then was to establish appropriate classes matching boats by performance characteristics.
"We fully recognize that getting class breaks right is as important to 'good PHRF racing' as assigning proper handicaps,"
Craig said. "One of our primary goals, based on feedback from participating PHRF owners over the years, is to provide 'like racing'---that is, to ensure that boats which perform in a similar fashion in a variety of different conditions are racing together."
This is far better than using the handicap as the sole or primary class determinant. If that were policy, the rating bands would be tighter but races would be decided by the conditions, not the performance of the competitors that day.
Does the system work? Last January first and second place in four PHRF classes were decided by no more than two points.
And, this just in from Key West regular Guy DEBOER: "Hats off to the entire PHRF committee. I read and reviewed all the classes and truly feel that you have done a wonderful job. From our perspective, Division 2 Class 6 is about perfect."
Dr. Ira ZASLOW, who is bringing his Swan 40, Willowind, from Newport, R.I., said, "In PHRF it's tough to race apples and oranges, but Premiere Racing puts on a good program. They also listen when we owners put our two cents' worth in."
Competition will be on four courses designated as Divisions 1 through 4, set side by side off the south shore of the island. PHRF classes 1-6 will be on Division 2, along with the Corsair 24 and 28R trimarans. PHRF 7-11 will be farthest to the east on Division 4 with the C&C 99 and T-10 classes.
Divisions 1 (Swan 45, Farr 40, Mumm 30) and 3 (Melges 24, J/105 and J/80) will be strictly one-design.