Oct 8, 2020
Gulf Yachting Association (GYA) race organizers will utilize ratings built on Offshore Racing Association (ORA) velocity prediction programming.
Beginning in January, 2021, the Offshore Racing Association (ORA) will issue handicap ratings for the nearly 500 boats in the Gulf Yachting Association’s PHRF fleet, which is spread from western Florida to New Orleans. GYA fleet members will receive PHRF ratings for two course configurations and light- or medium-strength winds, each based on the ORA’s proprietary velocity prediction program (VPP). They will also receive benchmark ratings for spinnaker and non-spinnaker configurations to set class breaks.
The certificates will have a total of five spinnaker and five non-spinnakers ratings. Race organizers will have the option of applying the rating with a windward-leeward or random-leg configuration and wind strength for a given race—or they can select from the benchmark ratings, which average the other four.
According to Tom Beery, GYA-PHRF chairman and chief administrator, “For years we’ve tried to develop a multi-course rating system—recognizing that a single course is lacking in equity—but without great success primarily due to the subjective nature of assigning ratings. The addition of two different wind speeds is further desirable,” he says. “On the Gulf Coast, we have light conditions in summer and stronger breezes in the fall and spring.”
Beery also points out that use of the ORA system will reduce the workload on PHRF handicappers and administrators dramatically: “Previously, for a new boat, I would provide a lot of research to our Area Handicappers for their input on a provisional rating. Provisional ratings and appeals were then reviewed quarterly, and all ratings were considered at the annual board meeting based on our 40-year database of race results.”
The new ratings supplied by ORA Rating Services are VPP “time on distance” ratings, converted to conventional PHRF ratings based on the relative difference to a control-boat rating. The GYA has chosen the J/35 spinnaker rating of 72 as the control-boat base rating for all conversions.
Beery has chaired the committee for 40 years and at age 81 believes a system based on the ORA’s science will provide fairer, more competitive racing and be much more manageable for his successors. The GYA-PHRF Committee will still ultimately control the ratings, but Beery expects they will rely mainly on the ratings delivered by ORA Rating Services.
Jay Tyson, head of ORA Rating Services, says, “The ORA is in business to make it easier for organizing authorities and race committees to deliver fair racing to sailors.” Tyson adds that ORA Rating Services can be customized to provide Beery and others like him with relevant boat-specific data plus management and rating processing to reduce their workload and deliver ratings to help them strengthen their fleets.
Using its VPP technology, ORA Rating Services provides custom services to help PHRF raters and race committees. It can also assist with scoring, certificate processing, reporting, training, and other services to help PHRF Fleets.
ORA Rating Services currently assists with ratings for PHRF fleets in Southern California, as well.