PHRF as a Handicap vs a Rating...

Left Shift

Super Anarchist
10,532
3,266
Seattle
So, the guy that prepares his boat, gets fresh sails, and sails well, gets punished.  The guy that doesn’t prepare his boat, has blown out sails, and sails poorly, gets credit.  Sounds like the Democratic Party!  Steal from the rich and give to the poor!  
As opposed to vice versa?  

 

Bump-n-Grind

Get off my lawn.
14,363
3,183
Chesapeake Bay/Vail
So, the guy that prepares his boat, gets fresh sails, and sails well, gets punished.  The guy that doesn’t prepare his boat, has blown out sails, and sails poorly, gets credit.  Sounds like the Democratic Party!  Steal from the rich and give to the poor!  
and then there's the people who spend all that money on their boat, and still can't sail for shit and bitch even louder... your analogy is a bit of non-sequitur here. The point of the handicapping system is to level the playing field for disparate boats, not to take anything away from anyone and give it to anyone else.  

 

Mr Moab

Anarchist
634
91
So, the guy that prepares his boat, gets fresh sails, and sails well, gets punished.  The guy that doesn’t prepare his boat, has blown out sails, and sails poorly, gets credit.  Sounds like the Democratic Party!  Steal from the rich and give to the poor!  
Of if that same person is even just a little enlightened (they usually aren't) there are not as much punished as they are continually more challenged. 

 

silent bob

Super Anarchist
8,578
1,197
New Jersey
As opposed to vice versa?  
My old yacht club set up a Golf Handicap system.  When you won, you got dinged a few seconds, when you lost you get a credit.  But they didn't set up a limit on how much credit that you could receive.  So, several boats started sandbagging weeks before a "Major Event".  Noted, this was a fleet of Catalina's and Hunter's with BBQ's on the rails.  

I took a 30 year old boat, removed about 20 years of built up bottom paint, put a fresh bottom on and put some new sails on it.  We put together a very solid crew, and sailed it to it's potential.  We commonly beat boats, boat for boat, that owed us 15-20 seconds per mile.  We had a great time for many years, until the club split up our fleet's rating band.  We had a group that, on the whole, agreed that the ratings were fair and that the better prepared and better sailed boats were on the podium.  About the only grumbling that we had was a sport boat that was a 20 years newer, half the weight, a foot shorter, and rated the same, and only beat us a few times in five years.  

 
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Brass

Super Anarchist
2,744
156
Here are the steps to set up and run a rolling average Performance Handicap System (PHS).

  1. PHS uses Time Correction Factor (TCF) which is the factor by which the Elapsed Time of a boat is multiplied to produce a Corrected Time, on which results are based.  A boat's TCF for each subsequent race is the rolling average of her Race TCFs for the best 5 of the last 6 races.
  2.  Convert boats' PHRF ratings to TOT TCFs (there's a formula around).
  3. Set up 5 dummy TCFs for each boat, as follows 1) Initial TCF calculated from PHRF or wherever, 2) Initial TCF - 1xStandard Deviation, 3) Initial TCF - 2xStandard Deviation , 4) Initial TCF + 1xStandard Deviation, 5) Initial TCF + 2xStandard Deviations.  Standard Deviations should be based on any set of values of TCFs that will represent the degree of variability within the fleet.  If you don't want to use Standard Deviations, you can use flat percentages.  I would suggest 10% and 20%, or if you have a fleet that you assess have a very wide variability, say 15% and 30%.
  4. Use the Initial TCF for the first race.
  5. At the end of the first race, identify a 'benchmark boat', usually the boat in the median position based on the TCFs used for that race, calculate each boat's Race TCF, namely the factor by which her Elapsed Time needs to be multiplied by to equal the Corrected Time of the benchmark boat.
  6. Add this real Race TCF to the set of dummy TCFs, for each boat, so that you will now have a series of 6 TCFs for each boat.
  7. The TCF of each boat for the next race is the average of the best 5 of the last 6 Race TCFs
  8. Use the new TCF for the next race.
  9. Repeat Steps 5 to 8 for successive races.

 So, under Step 7, if in the first race a boat has sailed

  • better than her worst dummy TCF (Initial TCF - 2SD), her next TCF will be based on her best 5 results, and the worst dummy TCF will drop off.
  • worse than her worst dummy TCF (Initial TCF - 2xSD) her next TCF will remain based on her initial TCF and the four dummy TCFs, and her first Race TCF will drop off.

In subsequent races, the last or the slowest TCF will drop off the rolling average until 6 races are complete and all dummys have dropped off and subsequent TCFs are all based on actual performance.

Any boat that attempts to sandbag the system by deliberately sailing slow to reduce her handicap will fail because the slow result will just be discarded.

Any boat that gets lucky or shows an unaccustomed flash of brilliance and sails way above her handicaps has just demonstrated what hear actual performance has been, has won a race, and has nothing to complain of when her good result is reflected in her handicap.

If a series is relatively short, you may wish to reduce the numbers in the rolling average, to best 4 out of last 5, best 3 out of last 4, or even just previous Race TCF.  If you do this, the outcomes are a bit more random. 

This is a single number system.  Of course, in any given race, conditions will suit some boats and not suit others, but it produces pretty consistent results in series pointscores.

The big problem arises when you get the Initial TCF radically too fast so that a boat sails maybe 5 races, placing last and never erodes the dummy TCFs she started with.  If you see this problem arising, you need to step in and arbitrarily adjust her handicap.

Another approach that is sometimes used, particularly for short 'regatta' series, is not to use initial or dummy TCFs, but delay computing handicap results until 3 or 4 races have been completed and base TCFs on those actual races.  Some competitors don't like this because they don't know where they stand until will into the regatta, others tolerated it because they think it gives a fairer result.

 

Left Shift

Super Anarchist
10,532
3,266
Seattle
My old yacht club set up a Golf Handicap system.  When you won, you got dinged a few seconds, when you lost you get a credit.  But they didn't set up a limit on how much credit that you could receive.  So, several boats started sandbagging weeks before a "Major Event".  Noted, this was a fleet of Catalina's and Hunter's with BBQ's on the rails.  

I took a 30 year old boat, removed about 20 years of built up bottom paint, put a fresh bottom on and put some new sails on it.  We put together a very solid crew, and sailed it to it's potential.  We commonly beat boats, boat for boat, that owed us 15-20 seconds per mile.  We had a great time for many years, until the club split up our fleet's rating band.  We had a group that, on the whole, agreed that the ratings were fair and that the better prepared and better sailed boats were on the podium.  About the only grumbling that we had was a sport boat that was a 20 years newer, half the weight, a foot shorter, and rated the same, and only beat us a few times in five years.  
Were you stealing from the rich or the poor in that case?

 

Left Shift

Super Anarchist
10,532
3,266
Seattle
Here are the steps to set up and run a rolling average Performance Handicap System (PHS).

  1. PHS uses Time Correction Factor (TCF) which is the factor by which the Elapsed Time of a boat is multiplied to produce a Corrected Time, on which results are based.  A boat's TCF for each subsequent race is the rolling average of her Race TCFs for the best 5 of the last 6 races.
  2.  Convert boats' PHRF ratings to TOT TCFs (there's a formula around).
  3. Set up 5 dummy TCFs for each boat, as follows 1) Initial TCF calculated from PHRF or wherever, 2) Initial TCF - 1xStandard Deviation, 3) Initial TCF - 2xStandard Deviation , 4) Initial TCF + 1xStandard Deviation, 5) Initial TCF + 2xStandard Deviations.  Standard Deviations should be based on any set of values of TCFs that will represent the degree of variability within the fleet.  If you don't want to use Standard Deviations, you can use flat percentages.  I would suggest 10% and 20%, or if you have a fleet that you assess have a very wide variability, say 15% and 30%.
  4. Use the Initial TCF for the first race.
  5. At the end of the first race, identify a 'benchmark boat', usually the boat in the median position based on the TCFs used for that race, calculate each boat's Race TCF, namely the factor by which her Elapsed Time needs to be multiplied by to equal the Corrected Time of the benchmark boat.
  6. Add this real Race TCF to the set of dummy TCFs, for each boat, so that you will now have a series of 6 TCFs for each boat.
  7. The TCF of each boat for the next race is the average of the best 5 of the last 6 Race TCFs
  8. Use the new TCF for the next race.
  9. Repeat Steps 5 to 8 for successive races.

 So, under Step 7, if in the first race a boat has sailed

  • better than her worst dummy TCF (Initial TCF - 2SD), her next TCF will be based on her best 5 results, and the worst dummy TCF will drop off.
  • worse than her worst dummy TCF (Initial TCF - 2xSD) her next TCF will remain based on her initial TCF and the four dummy TCFs, and her first Race TCF will drop off.

In subsequent races, the last or the slowest TCF will drop off the rolling average until 6 races are complete and all dummys have dropped off and subsequent TCFs are all based on actual performance.

Any boat that attempts to sandbag the system by deliberately sailing slow to reduce her handicap will fail because the slow result will just be discarded.

Any boat that gets lucky or shows an unaccustomed flash of brilliance and sails way above her handicaps has just demonstrated what hear actual performance has been, has won a race, and has nothing to complain of when her good result is reflected in her handicap.

If a series is relatively short, you may wish to reduce the numbers in the rolling average, to best 4 out of last 5, best 3 out of last 4, or even just previous Race TCF.  If you do this, the outcomes are a bit more random. 

This is a single number system.  Of course, in any given race, conditions will suit some boats and not suit others, but it produces pretty consistent results in series pointscores.

The big problem arises when you get the Initial TCF radically too fast so that a boat sails maybe 5 races, placing last and never erodes the dummy TCFs she started with.  If you see this problem arising, you need to step in and arbitrarily adjust her handicap.

Another approach that is sometimes used, particularly for short 'regatta' series, is not to use initial or dummy TCFs, but delay computing handicap results until 3 or 4 races have been completed and base TCFs on those actual races.  Some competitors don't like this because they don't know where they stand until will into the regatta, others tolerated it because they think it gives a fairer result.
What a fuckin' pain in the ass to "calculate" what a group of hackers did or did not succeed in doing or not doing during a sail boat parade.  

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,346
581
Myrtle Beach,
For what it's worth, I bashed together a spreadsheet... 

pretty much what Brass and others have mentioned above. 

the RED numbers were used to generate variation of elapsed times, to see how good/bad sailing affected results, and only affect elapsed times

  • The Bold BLACK are your inputs.
  • A ten race season is shown, with nominal PHRF time factor of 550
  • Equivalent rating sailed based on ET for distance
  • Delta sec/mile for each race if under a  threshold of +/- 12 sec/mile worst case to consider a race (excludes catastrophes) 
  •  3 sec a mile add/subtract if over/under for three race average of sec/mile delta

image.png

View attachment handicapping.xlsx

 
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PaulK

Super Anarchist
For a while our club tried a "golf" PHRF setup, based on the previous season's results and a guesstimate by the RC chair.  We got dinged a lot.  Maybe 15 seconds a mile?  I had to nail the start and catch every shift in order to win, so it was good training for us.  After a few seasons it got too involved and participation increased, so they dropped it.  Kept us on our toes for a while though.  

 

Meat Wad

Super Anarchist
So, the guy that prepares his boat, gets fresh sails, and sails well, gets punished.  The guy that doesn’t prepare his boat, has blown out sails, and sails poorly, gets credit.  Sounds like the Democratic Party!  Steal from the rich and give to the poor!  
From what I have seen typically is the person who prepares their boat and wins, then someone files for a rating review, and the skipper never show up to defend their preparation and winning ways.

If you are ever the subject of a rating review, you must approach it as someone who is mounting a defense argument. Get your resume together and get the Facts and only the facts not only about you and your boat, but the fleet. 9 out of 10 PHRF boats cannot start on time, don't know how to figure which end of the line or course is favored, miss all the shifts, sail in opposing current, over stand the laylines and they cannot gybe their boats. Most important is most owner/drivers steer like shit but think they are gods.

Have a witness back up your claim that the accuser cannot sail their way out of a wet paper bag.

In my time on the local and regional board, it has been fun to watch people defend their ratings against people who are just poor sailors.

 

DarkHorse

Member
230
29
The real question - do you handicap/rate the sailors or the boat?

The boat should be rated at the best it can be with good sailors aboard. Anything less and they aren't rated to their top ability.

I used to be on a sailmaker's 'crew'. The sailmaker would sell a sail or two to a downfleet 'racer'. We would then send the owner out with the sailmaker for breakfast while the 'crew' stripped the boat, tuned the rig, set the battens, etc The the sailmaker came on board, nailed the start, sailed the shortest distance, we got the sails up and down within a quarter of the leg - and bang, we moved the boat from bottom of the fleet to at least near the podium. Owner is ecstatic!

Then we leave, they put the cruising crap back on, they depend on the same poor sailors that the owner loves to drink with, and he falls back to the bottom. But at least he now knows its not the boat or the rating.

So what should his rating be based on? The ringer crew on a temporarily improved boat - in other words, the real potential of the boat? Or should it be for the cruising version with the owners drinking buddies, which is the day-to-day operational potential of the real 'program'?

 
Years ago we tried adjusting PHRF ratings based on a skipper's performance. Skippers would buy new sails, the most expensive bottom paint, smallest possible o/b motor and still not be able to win ever!  So, RC had the brainwave they would bump ratings based on their difference in secs/mile from the winning boat. Think you can guess what happened.  Things got WAY out of whack. And then the guys with the big bumps would bring more skilled helmsmen on board and that in combination with the now much friendly rating would kick ass.  Moral is, if you decide to adjust ratings away from PHRF you need to clearly stipulate the only person on the helm is the same each and every week.  Probably a few other stipulations with a few minutes thought. We were giving so much time away we finally gave up because the better we sailed the worse we did.

 
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Foreverslow

Super Anarchist
at my old club, the winner in each class got dinged 10 seconds/mi the following week.

If they won, they continue with that rating.

If they lost, they got back their 10 seconds.

If anyone complained, we said the winner was already dinged 10 seconds.  Face it, you suck..

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,346
581
Myrtle Beach,
So we finally had a race day, and Lioness did well enough that the calls for a “Golf Handicap system” are being made. I pasted the @Brass rolling average method with “Australian system” attribution. 
 
We will see what transpires, while most of the boats had Bimini and dodgers up for shade, there were a few uncluttered, that hit the line within 10 sec of start, and sailed well enough that ratings might actually matter. Here is a snippet from first race of two when the land breeze had died, first time I had both the chute and mizzen staysail hoisted. https://youtu.be/FCDfW0oDrRI

appreciate the help. 

 

mccroc

Anarchist
593
361
Sydney
There are two Australian proprietary systems available that do performance based, rolling average handicaps, which we call Performance Handicapping Systems (PHS)

https://www.sailsys.com.au/

and

https://topyacht.com.au/web/

If you don't want to shell out, Rolling Average PHS is pretty easy to do on a spreadsheet. I can send you details if you want.

Alternatively, you can use 'picnic' minute handicapping:

  1. give each boat a handicap in minutes (which you can calculate from your TOD PHRF and the race length)
  2. for each race, 1st place has 3 minutes added to her handicap, 2nd place has 2 minutes added to her handicap, and 3rd place has one minute added to her handicap (for extra elaboration, particularly if you have a fleet with numerous boats that don't sail well to their PHRF, last place can have 3 minutes subtracted from her handicap, second last 2 minutes, and third last 1 minute.
  3. You can give a booby prize like a bottle of club champagne to the last boat in each race, to soften the blow.
  4. It needs to be understood that this system is for fun and is intended to  distribute the prizes, not to reflect how well sailed or prepared boats are.
Interesting that the US doesn't have a similar system - but TopYacht and SailSys are effectively similar, except SailSys has the (to me)great advantage of better averaging over series and years, meaning the changes are smaller and over time give you a far better, fairer result.

Having sailed with PHS or its equivalent for 50 years, it is not correct to say this system in any way helps poorly prepared and poorly sailed yachts - it rewards well sailed yachts that sail consistently. In order to sail consistently you need all of the things yachts sailed under IRC etc need to succeed.

 
Aren't they all flawed in some way, and you should really decide what the aim of the race/series is ?

Are you looking to reward absolute performance, money, fleet size, consistent attendance, improvement, every one wins one etc.

Some boats can afford 4 jibs, some struggle to get 50% constant crew, some cruisers will go 10+% faster for an individual race with good crew, some turn up in all winds and conditions etc, some the same two boats win every race, and so the fleet gets smaller every year.

 
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