Join Date: May 2012
Location: North Vancouver, BC
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Re: Will the real PHRF please stand up
I certainly looked at PHRF ratings when choosing my last 2 boats, but they are just one of many data points to consider.
Before we bought Azura, we looked at lots of other boats, and I did scratch a few off the list because I knew they would be too slow for my liking, and their phrf number confirmed what I already suspected from looking at their sail plan, displacement, hull form etc. Others, on the faster end of the phrf spectrum we found lacking in interior amenities and storage space. Also, I knew that for a relatively heavy boat to rate down in the phrf 60 range it would have to have a very powerful sail plan, which is great when you have a crew of apes on the rail, but not so great when it's just the wife and I out cruising.
One thing that must be kept in mind about PHRF ratings is that they are much more accurate on models that are popular for racing. On those boats the rating evolves over the years as the true performance of the boat becomes known. If a particular boat design dominates on the race course the rating gets appealed, and adjusted to more accurately reflect the design's performance. On the other hand, a base rating calculated on a boat that seldom gets raced, that rating IS purely a number generated by a formula. Of course many of those boats are on the slower end of the spectrum to begin with which is precisely why nobody races them, but rating inaccuracy can also afflict limited production or custom made boats. The more rare the boat is the less likely it will have an accurate rating.
Regarding Asymetric sails on displacement boats for racing, it is true that they don't give the same benefit they do on planing sport boats that can push their apparent wind forward with raw speed. On the other hand, the simplicity gained from an asym setup should not be under estimated. Certainly they will be at a disadvantage if you are trying to sail deep against symetric boats, but you just need to play the angles better. These days asymetric designs have improved so that you can sail much deeper than you used to. On my old Santana, which was a classic IOR "broach coach", running deep was not very enjoyable, and required a skilled hand on the helm and good crew in order to tame the dreaded "death roll". Reaching, on the other hand, was one of the boat's strong points, so the asym allowed me to take advantage of that strength.
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2011 Jeanneau 39i Azura