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Old 11-03-2010
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Numbers & Ratings

Every once in a while when someone does the "What boat is best for xxxxxxx" thread, someone else posts PHRF numbers for various boats they think perform better. So seeing as these values vary by region, don't take conditions or crew in to account and are just a base number, what do they really mean? What is good and what is bad. Obviously yes, lower is better but, is say 170 good for a 30 foot boat? If your "blue water performance cruiser" has a rating of 195, is that a bad thing if it is 35 feet long? Then there is the whole capsize thing. Does that even really mean anything? What "numbers" really matter? Or should they just be ignored and you wing it and get what looks and feels good to you? Take the racing factor out of it.
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Old 11-03-2010
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if you are taking racing out of it here is a pretty good article on the 'comfort factor' (developed by ted brewer) and the capsize risk.

Low Cost Cruising Boats
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Old 11-03-2010
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It's true that handicap numbers don't really mean anything if racing or "performance cruising" isn't called into the equation.

It's like complaining that a 4X4 truck won't do 180 mph, when the reason for the purchase is to go off-roading.

The other problem with handicap numbers (PHRF), is that in some regions, there are politics invovled, and some boats get a "gift" handicap that isn't really reflective of their sailing ability. (PHRF politics is a whole other topic)

I've posted PHRF numbers in the past, but it's just meant as a very rough indicator or point of reference to start from, I don't swear by them.
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Usually, its a subtle way of pointing out someone is looking at boats that are worlds apart. Its pretty rare that 2 boats in the same price range, size range and offering truly similar accomodations will have huge differences in PHRF numbers. So when I see a posting where someone is considering boats with base PFRF differences of 30+ seconds a mile, you pretty much know they are looking at two pretty different boats. From that you can surmise, that if one of those boats truly fit their sailing desire, they'd be miserable with the other choice. For example you if you try to compare a Sabre 36 or 362 to my Catalina 36, you'll find the S36 is about 20-30 seconds a mile faster and the 362 is <30+ seconds a mile faster. However, the S36 accomodations don't come close to my C36 if you intend to have guests aboard regularly. The 362is closer, but its in a whole different price class. So for someone staying in a similar price class that wanted speed and didn't plan to have a lot of guests the S36 would probably be a better choice than a C36, while for someone like that doesn't mind the speed penalty and really enjoys taking guests for weekend long cruises, the extra space is more important.

So to me the PHRF discussion reveals a good deal about how focused a person is on what they desire out of their boat. If they've really worked through it, there probably won't be a huge gap in the PHRF numbers between boats they are looking at. If there is, they are probably still conflicted about whats most important to them.
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So just to throw this out there, looking at base ratings for New England. Is a value of 174 good for a 37 foot boat? I guess my basis here is that I want to know if a certain make/model/length has decent speed for it's size. To make good time do you want one that has a PHRF under 200 or some other value? Just as something to consider. Looking for some guidance on all these values because if you don't know what "47 foobars" really means the number doesn't mean much to you. Obviously there are other factors in choosing a boat.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickMick View Post
if you are taking racing out of it here is a pretty good article on the 'comfort factor' (developed by ted brewer) and the capsize risk.

Low Cost Cruising Boats
Thanks for this link too Quinn, going to read through that. Looks like some good info.
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To give you an example, my 25' sailboat is rated at 234 in the Chesapeake Bay PHRF system and that is s l o w w w w w. It's short, has an outdated form, a shallow keel with a long chord, and outboard sheeting (outside the lifelines).

Longer boats with bigger sails, a deeper keel with a better shape, and inboard sheeting (sometimes even multiple tracks) will sail faster. So 174 for a 37' sailboat really isn't that fast, relatively speaking.

I sail on a C&C 35 Mk III that rates 132, which is respectable. I have a friend that owns an Olson 911s (30 footer) that rates the same. Impromtu, a C&C 37 that I race against rates 126.

In the 37' range, you can find a faster boat.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cb32863 View Post
So just to throw this out there, looking at base ratings for New England. Is a value of 174 good for a 37 foot boat? I guess my basis here is that I want to know if a certain make/model/length has decent speed for it's size. To make good time do you want one that has a PHRF under 200 or some other value? Just as something to consider. Looking for some guidance on all these values because if you don't know what "47 foobars" really means the number doesn't mean much to you. Obviously there are other factors in choosing a boat.
We both cruise and race, so I most certainly will consider PHRF numbers. For myself, I don't think I'd be happy with a 37' that rated higher than around 120-130 for cruising. Under 100 would be better. Then again, a Bermuda 40 is still a nice boat that I'd certainly be happy to have, but not race... Bottom line, it's just one measure among many to think about when buying a boat. The weight you place on it depends entirely on what you're planning to do. To answer your question, 200 for a 37' boat is very slow. Still might be a nice boat and serve your purposes just fine though.

132 for a 911s? Now that's a gift! They should be able to crush everything locally in light air.
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Old 11-03-2010
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For me a 37 should be at least 100 or faster. 120-130 as Puddinglegs points out, is probably on the ave end of things. My 29'ish foot boat rates 159 in your area. 188 here in puget sound. But we do not have too many reach races, so ratings out here sometimes as mentioned, get politicized per say! actually PHRF-NW has lowered IIRC ALL ratings 10% from the nat book for various and sundry reasons. Even still, 170 for a 37 is SLOOOOOOOOW, 200+ would be slower than a dead slug backwards! for a 37' mind you. A low 20' boat, probably more ave.

Use PHRF to get a base line for where the boat might be speed wise. In the end tho, you are the one that decides what you want. I wanted a fin keel boat that was no slower 3/4 of the way between a J30'ish at the faster end, and a Cat 30 on the slow end. I'm in the ball park!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midlifesailor View Post
Usually, its a subtle way of pointing out someone is looking at boats that are worlds apart. Its pretty rare that 2 boats in the same price range, size range and offering truly similar accomodations will have huge differences in PHRF numbers. So when I see a posting where someone is considering boats with base PFRF differences of 30+ seconds a mile, you pretty much know they are looking at two pretty different boats. From that you can surmise, that if one of those boats truly fit their sailing desire, they'd be miserable with the other choice. For example you if you try to compare a Sabre 36 or 362 to my Catalina 36, you'll find the S36 is about 20-30 seconds a mile faster and the 362 is <30+ seconds a mile faster. However, the S36 accomodations don't come close to my C36 if you intend to have guests aboard regularly. The 362is closer, but its in a whole different price class. So for someone staying in a similar price class that wanted speed and didn't plan to have a lot of guests the S36 would probably be a better choice than a C36, while for someone like that doesn't mind the speed penalty and really enjoys taking guests for weekend long cruises, the extra space is more important.

So to me the PHRF discussion reveals a good deal about how focused a person is on what they desire out of their boat. If they've really worked through it, there probably won't be a huge gap in the PHRF numbers between boats they are looking at. If there is, they are probably still conflicted about whats most important to them.
I recently used comparative ratings in a thread by a fellow who was considering a Sabre 42 and an Island Packet 36. The reason why I did so was not to show that one was better than another but just to show that one was much faster than the other. It's just a healthy baseline to know that a boat is rated at 30 seconds a mile faster, or whatever it is. These ratings aren't perfect but they are useful baselines to use for comparison purposes.
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