Eligibility for Womens Racing – FS & NFS

The message below was sent to all those participating in the Interclub Womens racing program in July, 2016, by Mary Ellen Dempster (BYC Womens Rep). It was written by Hugh Morrin, in consultation with Mary Ellen, and Marg Trottier, NSC Womens Rep. The information below expands on the information in Part B of the Sailing Instructions, but it in no way supersedes the Sailing Instructions.

As discussed, questions have arisen recently concerning the handicaps used for boats racing in the Womens racing. It seems some are under the misunderstanding that boats must use their flying sail handicap for racing on Monday evenings. This is not the case.

All of our keelboat handicap racing in Ottawa uses the PHRF Handicapping system. PHRF-LO issues two handicaps to most keelboats: the first is its Non-Flying Sail (NFS) handicap, for use when flying sails (i.e. spinnakers) are not used, and a Flying Sail (FS) handicap for boats racing with flying sails. NFS is often referred to as “White Sails”, and only here in Ottawa, this is known as “JAM” (for “Jib and Main”). For boats who do not have a flying sail (spinnaker), they are only issued an NFS handicap.

Boats racing in either Fleet 1 (non-coached) or Fleet 2 (coached) are eligible to register with either their Flying Sail (FS) or Non-Flying Sail (NFS) handicap, at their choice. However, they cannot change their handicap during a series, and obviously, they cannot use a flying sail if they register with their NFS handicap. This is clear on the NSC race registration form. Boats racing in the Interclub Long Distance series similarly may choose between racing with their FS handicap, or their NFS handicap, though they must stick with the same for the whole series. Because there are not enough boats to split the Womens boats into four fleets, depending on whether they’re coached or not, and whether they’re racing FS or NFS, the Womens fleets include both FS and NFS boats in both fleets.

This is the way the system has worked for years. In fact, if boats were required to use their FS handicap, as some have suggested, many boats that do not have FS handicaps would not be eligible to race.

While this has never before been a point of contention, it has not been obvious to competitors who has registered with which handicap. Consequently, we have recently added a column to the Womens results titled “FS”; a “Y” in this column means the boat is registered with their FS handicap; an “N” means the boat is registered with their NFS (aka “JAM”) handicap. Obviously a boat registered with a FS handicap is not obliged to fly their spinnaker in any given race. However, a boat that is registered with an NFS handicap is prohibited from flying a spinnaker in any race in that series.

I acknowledge that there is some misleading terminology in our Sailing Instructions which may have contributed to the confusion on this subject. For some reason, since long before I started racing keelboats in Ottawa, local sailors here refer to boats racing with “Flying Sails” (FS) handicaps as “PHRF” boats, and boats using “Non-Flying Sails” (NFS) handicaps as “JAM” boats. Of course, all boats are racing under the PHRF handicapping system. Unfortunately, this inappropriate local jargon has permeated our SIs, which state a “PHRF boat” is racing with a Flying Sails (FS) PHRF-LO rating. That reference, combined with reference to our Womens Racing as “MONDAY EVENING WOMEN’S PHRF FLEET”, is likely the source of this confusion. I will work with Joan to clarify the wording next year, likely simply dropping the word “PHRF” from the title of Part B.

Please share this with all concerned, as appropriate. If anyone wishes to change their handicap for Series 2, they should send a message to scoring at nsc dot ca prior to the start of the series, i.e. by July 17th.

Thanks,

Hugh

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