Duluth Keel Club PHRF Rating Process

The Duluth Keel Club (DKC) is a participating fleet in the US Sailing Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF). PHRF includes 10,000+ yachts and ratings that are determined, reviewed, and consulted to make keelboat handicap sailing as fair as possible. The basis for the rating system is built on seconds per nautical mile. It is used and computed on a 3 second per mile performance standard. That means that whatever a yacht’s final rating, it must be divisible by three.


  1. Unrated Boats Entering the Fleet. Ratings for a yacht coming into the DKC are determined in the following manner:

   1. When a stock (or production) yacht joins the DKC PHRF fleet, the yacht must file a DKC PHRF Rating Certificate with the Race Committee.

  1. It is assumed that the yacht meets the dimensions as published in the current US Sailing PHRF “Critical Dimensions of Boats for Handicapping” book[1]. If there have been any deviation(s) from the designed dimensions, the deviations must be noted on the Rating Certificate with the result that the deviations may affect the handicap.
  2. The most current yearly published US Sailing PHRF book[2] is then consulted and used as a base for the yacht’s rating. The PHRF formula used to determine a rating for a DKC member yacht: Total up the number of sister ships rated; add their ratings together; then divide the number of yachts into the totally added rating number. When looking at all the same yachts of the rating to be determined, if there is a yacht listed with a number extremely high or low from the visible norm, those high and low yachts are eliminated, and then not used in the formula.

   2.  When a custom designed yacht joins the DKC PHRF fleet, the yacht must file a DKC PHRF Rating Certificate with the Race Committee. In determining the initial DKC PHRF rating for a custom yacht, the Race Committee shall attempt to predict the performance of the custom yacht based on yacht characteristics such as hull type, waterline length, displacement and sail area and a comparison to other PHRF rated boats of comparable design.

   3.   For the initial DKC handicap assignment for the new fleet member, the resulting number is rounded up or down to the nearest number divisible by 3.

  B.   Review of DKC PHRF Ratings.

  1. Ratings are subject to adjustment upon review by the Race Committee if it determined that the rating reflects a flawed estimate of a yacht’s speed potential.
  2. DKC assigned PHRF ratings will be reviewed by the Race Committee at a minimum of every three years as part of a fleet ratings review.
  3. Actual historical yacht performance in DYC races will be utilized in the review.
  4. The range of ratings listed in the US Sailing PHRF Handicaps Book for a particular make and model of boat will be consulted during the ratings review.


  C.  Ratings Certificates.

  1. Each yacht owner must file a DKC PHRF Rating Certificate with the DKC Race Committee in the form approved by the DKC Race Committee. Rating Certificate Forms can be found on the DKC website. Yachts for which a DKC rating has not been issued shall be ineligible to compete in DKC races until a Rating Certificate is filed. Yachts for which a DKC rating has been issued and which fail to file a Rating Certificate with the Race Committee prior to July 1, 2016 will receive a 10% elapsed time penalty in all DKC Wednesday Night Class Races and DKC Regattas, and a 3-place penalty in all DKC Offshore and Nearshore races, until a completed Rating Certificate is filed.
  2. Any changes to a boat’s equipment or configuration as documented in the yacht’s Ratings Certificate on file with the DKC Race Committee shall require submittal of an updated DKC PHRF Rating Certificate.
  3. Any boat that participates in a DKC race in contravention of the boat’s filed Rating Certificate will be assessed penalties in accordance with the DKC PHRF Rules and Regulations established by the Race Committee from time to time.


  D.  Rating Disputes.

  1. Any skipper/owner of a DKC PHRF boat may appeal the rating of any DKC rated vessel by delivering a written appeal to the Chair of the Race Committee using the DKC Rating Appeal Form available on the DKC website.
    1. In the case where the appellant initiates the appeal process to change the handicap of a competitor's boat and its sisterships, the Rating Appeal Form must be completed concerning the appellant's boat only. Additional pages should in a narrative include a clear statement of the basis for the appeal of a competitor's handicap. When a competitor's boat rating is appealed, it is the responsibility of the appellant to notify the competitor and all sisterships because the appeal decision affects all of them. Owners of sisterships are thus part of the appeal process.
    2. The Race Chair may reject and return the appeal without a hearing if the appeal is believed to be frivolous, libelous or scurrilous, or the Rating Appeal Form is not complete. A letter of rejection with a brief explanation will be sent by the Race Chair to the appellant. This rejection is without prejudice to the subsequent refilling of a proper appeal.

 2.  Upon receipt of a written rating appeal in proper order, the Chair of the Race Committee shall appoint a Hearing Panel to hear the appeal.

  1. The Panel shall be chaired by the DKC Ratings Representative and shall also include three skippers/owners of DKC PHRF rated yachts that are not usually involved in the same racing class as the appellant.
  2. The Panel shall conduct a hearing and decide the appeal by issuing a written decision. In making its decision, the Panel shall consider results, comparative yachts, specific sailing conditions, ratings from other clubs with the same yacht, and any other comparison or argument that is specific to the appeal involved.

 3.  If the appellant or a competitor which is subject to the appeal is not satisfied with the Panel’s resolution of the appeal, a further appeal to the United States Performance Handicap Fleet (USPHRF) Appeal Committee may be initiated.


The DKC PHRF Rating Process is subject to, and supplemented by, the DKC PHRF Rules and Regulations established by the Race Committee from time to time.

[1] Critical Dimensions of Boats for Handicapping: http://www.ussailing.org/wp-content/uploads/DARoot/Offshore/PHRF/Critical%20Dimensions.pdf

[2] PHRF Handicaps Book: http://www.ussailing.org/racing/offshore-big-boats/phrf/phrf-handicaps-book/