Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 56 Times in 54 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Venture 24 PHRF
The purpose of the handicap rating is to make your boat reasonably competitive against boats of other designs, and it works fairly well. Jeff makes a distinction between club racing and racing at a more competitive level. If you strip your old bottom paint down to the bare fiberglass and give it a fresh coat of VC 17, so that it is smooth and fast, and if you have reasonably good sail trimming skills, you can be competitive with most club racers, and you might even shock them. The average club racer does not race-prep the boat very well, and if you prep your boat well you will have a little advantage in terms of boat speed, and that will help you sail faster than your handicap. The average club racer has a vague understanding of the racing rules, has a limited understanding of tactics and makes lots of mistakes. But, if you race against experienced racers at a more competitive level, they will all prepare their boats meticulously, make few mistakes, and they will take advantage of your lack of understanding of the racing rules. At that level, it takes considerable knowledge and skill to win a race. A fast bottom and your handicap won''t do it for you.
Although there are faster boats than yours, you don''t have to beat them across the finish line to win the average club race. If they have to give you a 20 minute handicap, all you have to do is cross the finish line less than 20 minutes after they do.
Make an effort to prep your boat, and then get out there and mix it up with some club racers. You''ll have fun while learing how to get the most out of your boat.
There is a very good explanation of handicap systems at the following website.