One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-31-2019 Thread Starter
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One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

We have been considering getting a small sleep aboard keelboat in addition to our trailer sailer. It probably won't be for this season because our dance card is already full but I have been reviewing the local one design fleets wondering if that would be a good way to go or if we would be better off with a more generalist PHRF boat.

The boat would not be used for "Cruising", just week ends and week night racing, we prefer our trailer sailer for exploring, for a bunch of reasons, not least of which is our local lake (10 min from work) is land locked between two hydro dams and only 30 miles long.

I have been reviewing our local one design fleets and they include; C&C 27, J24, Kirby 25, Tanzer 22, Shark, Martin 16, Fireball, Albacore, 505 and Laser. So there is no shortage of choice. So if I forget about the dinghies, there are still some pretty affordable keelboat options, namely the Shark and Tanzer 22, either of which can be had for $500-1000 around here.

The question is, even with these little boats, how big of an arms race is it, assuming you dont want to finish last every time? Do the cost of upgrades and sails get goofy? Is it easier just to do PHRF? Not looking for hard facts, just folks general observations/feelings on small one design keelboat racing.
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-31-2019
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

You actually want to get into the beer can racing crowd? I generally find them miserable, but they can be fun with the right group.

The advantage of one-design is probably the liquidity of the boat. If there are well established local race committees, it's probably easier to sell down the road. The downside is that every time you lose, you'll blame the sails, your vessel weight, bottom cleaning and everything else, but the crew. You'll never feel like the boat is at it's best.

The trick with PHRF is to identify a vessel that actually outsails it's rating. That's often the case either up or down wind, but there are some known to be sandbagged overall. The problem is, everyone you race against will know it and make you buy the beer for cheating.

It's a no win choice.
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-31-2019
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

In club racing generally, as in every sport, victory doesn't necessarily go to the boat with the best sails and equipment. It goes to the person who makes the most of the sails and equipment that he has. On any given day, most of the boats that are racing casually are handicapped by lesser equipment or crew, or an imperfectly prepped bottom. The challenge is to figure out how to beat the competition around the course despite your particular shortcomings. If you can't beat them with superior sails and equipment, then you have to beat them with better strategy and tactics, better sail trim, finding better wind, or smarter boat handling. At the start of every race I ask myself, "How can I beat these guys despite my limitations today?" Sometimes you'll find the answer and sometimes you won't. You can't ordinarily expect to win consistently with lesser equipment in a competitive fleet, but when you outsail those limiting factors, those races will be your most memorable and satisfying, even if you didn't finish first. It's painful to lose when you should have won, and gratifying to beat boats that you shouldn't have. That's a powerful motivation in sports.
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

I would say it depends on the racing scene in your area. Here on Long Island Sound, one design racing is pretty limited and the fleets are small. With PHRF racing here, there are more options. I raced PHRF at the club level for over 20 years. PHRF has its limitations, especially in trying to handicap boats with widely varying ratings and sizes. If you go that route, look at the boats that do well in your area. You can probably identify several models that are worth considering. And if you go with something like a J24 or C&C27, you can race both one design and PHRF.
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

You said you want to be able to sleep aboard. I think the Tanzer 22 is the clear winner in that respect - Sharks are really narrow and the others don't even start. Should find lots of 1-design fleets in ON.
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

I like the idea of chosing something good for both. My understanding is the local PHRF fleet is split into spinnaker or jib and main and then further into 3 divisions based on rating. Tanzer 22s make up more than half the fleet for jib and main middle division. That is a nice place to be because my wife and I could sail the boat, no need for a 3rd crew. They also conveniently have the biggest local one design fleet. And as Zedboy points out, they are a heck of a lot more comfortable than a Shark.

The J24/Kirby 25 would also be fun for a bit more speed, I am just not sure I need that much boat/expense.

This is still very hypothetical at this point as I plan to do at least one more EC, but when I stop doing that, I will need something else to do, and its never too early to start shopping for the next boat
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

Also, I can't see the T22 fleets becoming an arms race. That's not why you buy a T22 - there are faster rides if you're planning to drop big $$ on laminate sails etc etc.

(never encountered T22 in one-design setting though, so I'm just guessing - the ones near us all raced PHRF and did quite well)
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post #8 of 27 Old 03-31-2019
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

If you want to race, buy a boat from a racer, that is equipped and ready to race. The cost of converting a cruising boat to a racer is way more than making a racing boat comfortable to do some overnight cruising. I don't know how serious the racing is where you live if there is a spinnaker division, you might spend $4000 just to rig your boat and buy a spinnaker. You might spend a few $1000 more for a competitive boat than a boat rigged to cruise but that boat might come with $20,000 worth of sails. I love racing but i love racing OPB (other peoples boats). Staying competitive is expensive.
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

^^^Our lake does have spinnaker and non spinnaker keel boat fleets, with 3 divisions each based on rating. It also has the one designs listed and Portsmouth yardstick monohull and multihull, so lots of options. I can put my P16 into the Portsmouth multihull division, but handicap or not it feels like bringing a knife to a gunfight when you are playing with Tornadoes.

So, I was wondering if the small keelboat one design might be an affordable and family friendly option. I can't imagine any one putting $20k worth of sails on a 40 year old T22 or a 50 year old Shark, but even a lot less could be problematic.

The more I think about it, it might be easier to be somewhat competitive in the Jib and Main PHRF. Basically the Divisions there seem to be split >240, 230-240, and <230, so we aren't talking hot rod ocean racers by any stretch of the imagination. Possibly by going with one of the one designs so I have room to improve as I get better/more geared up.

I have done some racing on OPBs, but it doesn't really turn my crank because so much of the fun for me is sitting around trying to figure out how to make my boat better.
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Re: One Design vs PHRF: Arms Race?

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Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
I have done some racing on OPBs, but it doesn't really turn my crank because so much of the fun for me is sitting around trying to figure out how to make my boat better.
The fun part of racing OPBs boats is you can race in a bracket you could not afford yourself. Being part of crew on a 40+ foot boat that you get to sail it like you stole it is a lot of fun. The owner is responsible to bring an new $5000 sail every other year to keep the boat competitive. In a big boat you have your one job and it is your job to do that to the best of your ability to make the boat go fast.

The nice thing about a more humble fleet you can stay competitive and have fun without breaking the bank. You may not have to spend 10s of thousands to stay competitive but if you are competing against well sailed boats you won't have a chance with 15 year old sails. Look for a well equipped boat with a good suit of sails and hopefully a spinnaker. You can spend the first year or two competing in non-spin, then step up your game when your crew work becomes dialed in.
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