Join Date: Dec 2002
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I need to do this agian!
Sounds like you are in the Chesapeake Bay area, perhaps?
I obtained a PHRF rating for my boat (Helms 25) and to do that I had to attest that my boat met a certain level of accommodation and safety equipment (4P, 5P, or 6P) in order to qualify for a rating. These standards are based on ORC (offshore racing council) standards. Level 6 is the least stringent, level 4 corresponds to ORC category 4 and is meant for "Short races, close to shore in relatively warm or protected waters normally held in daylight". Choose your level according to what the yacht club running the races requires and what you feel comfortable with and how much work and expense will be involved in meeting the standard.
It does seem like a lot of jumping through hoops, but I don''t begrudge them taking precautions to try and require people to have minimal safety equipment (and meet seaworthiness standards). This is litigation happy US, after all.
I''ve enjoyed weekly racing, and it has helped me learn my boat (just bought it last November). I encourage you to try it out, it''s fun and good experience. If you haven''t done any racing, it probably would be a good idea to start off in dinghies, so you can get used to the idea of being constantly on the lookout for boats barreling towards you at all times and dodging them! You won''t be as worried about damage with a smaller boat.
We were out last Tuesday night in strong and puffy winds and got a taste of how an old cruiser handles in a decent blow. No waves (Potomac river at Washington DC) 15 mph with gusts at or above 20 mph. Many boats were flying a full genoa and having a hard time due to being overpowered. We had our genoa partially furled with the roller furler and were able to ride out the puffs pretty well once we got the hang of it. Sail shape was not ideal (no luff tension with a partially rolled jib, and I had forgotten to move the leads for the jib blocks forward) but it was great being able to unfurl the sail fully for the downwind leg (a broad reach) and those who had selected a smaller 110 or 120 percent jib were wishing for the genoa!
I was fortunate to have picked up a really good fellow at the dockside meeting to add to my crew. He was able to read the puffs and trim the jib, my other steady crew handled the main, so I could mostly concentrate on steering. Windy days are not well suited to breaking in inexperienced crews, particularly in the tight confines of a river like the Potomac!