296 entries for Key West

Rich Roberts looks at how the fleet is dividing up for early January's regatta

Wednesday December 31st 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
The fleet for North America's largest keelboat regatta has fallen into place with the posting of PHRF class breaks for Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, presented by Nautica. A wide variety of 112 handicap boats from 24-75ft will compete in 11 classes, the most ever, reaffirming the event's status as the 'unofficial' PHRF National Championship.

They are among 296 total entries to date, complementing 184 one-design boats. The class breaks, individual boat handicaps, complete entry lists and much more information may be seen at www.Premiere-Racing.com.

Racing will take place over five days, Monday through Friday on 19-23 January. Currently, the entry list represents 16 countries and 30 states coast to coast.

Event Director Peter Craig saluted PHRF Consortium Chairman Bruce Bingman and his seven PHRF experts from sailing hot spots around the country for their efforts in assigning handicaps tailored to Key West conditions and courses. He noted "the hundreds of hours of work spent in researching, evaluating and debating to establish Key West specific handicaps."

That done, the aim then was to establish appropriate classes matching boats
by performance characteristics. "We fully recognise that getting class breaks right is as important to 'good PHRF racing' as assigning proper handicaps," Craig said.

"One of our primary goals, based on feedback from participating PHRF owners over the years, is to provide 'like racing' - that is, to ensure that boats which perform in a similar fashion in a variety of different conditions are racing together."

This is far better than using the handicap as the sole or primary class determinant. If that were policy, the rating bands would be tighter but races would be decided by the conditions, not the performance of the competitors that day.

Does the system work? Last January first and second place in four PHRF classes were decided by no more than two points.

And, this just in from Key West regular Guy deBoer: "Hats off to the entire PHRF committee. I read and reviewed all the classes and truly feel that you have done a wonderful job. From our perspective, Division 2 Class 6 is about perfect."

Dr. Ira Zaslow, who is bringing his Swan 40, Willowind from Newport, R.I., said, "In PHRF it's tough to race apples and oranges, but Premiere Racing puts on a good program. They also listen when we owners put our two cents' worth in."

Competition will be on four courses designated as Divisions 1 through 4, set side by side off the south shore of the island. PHRF classes 1-6 will be on Division 2, along with the Corsair 24 and 28R trimarans. PHRF 7-11 will be farthest to the east on Division 4 with the C&C 99 and T-10 classes.

Divisions 1 (Swan 45, Farr 40, Mumm 30) and 3 (Melges 24, J/105 and J/80) will be strictly one-design.

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