Changes coming to Offshore Racing and PHRF

Mayo Tabb on Tuesday December 17, 2013 08:07PM

Last summer as a result of fatalities during a race in San Francisco, the USCG banned all sailboat racing on the West Coast. After intervention by US Sailing represented by Gary Jobson and the local Yacht Clubs, racing was allowed to resume pending US sailing adapting new safety regulations based upon this and other events around the country. The first of these regulations goes into effect Jan. 1 2014 and will be enforced through the Racing Rules of Sailing, US Sailing Yacht Club insurance, Protest Committees, and USCG boating safety regulations and Regatta Permits.

Offshore Racing will now fall into three categories of requirements for Nearshore, Coastal and Offshore races. In general terms, “Coastal” refers to races in the ocean, not in the Bay. The current understanding is that all racing on the Bay will fall under US Sailing “Nearshore” plus whatever additional requirements that are place by the Regatta Organizer, PHRF Fleet, or One-Design

Replacing PHRF Cat 4 will be PHRF Baywide, which is US Sailing “Nearshore” plus select items from Coastal, and miscellaneous boat construction, lifeline, safety and interior requirements from Cat 4P. Replacing Cat 5 and 6 will be PHRF Nearshore which is US Sailing “Nearshore” plus additional safety and other items from the previous PHRF regulations. The required PHRF category will be stated in the sailing instructions for each event. Non-PHRF classes or events such as Leukemia Cup, Cruising, One-Design (such as J-70) will all have to comply with US Sailing Nearshore plus any class regulation. I anticipate that for FBYC that our Regattas held off the entrance to the Piankatank such as Spring and Fall Series , Leukemia Cup, Stingray will be PHRF Nearshore with the races in the Long Distance Series away from FBYC being PHRF Baywide.

All racers are advised to read the new regulations carefully as they continue to evolve but the following stand out (items not stated as PHRF Baywide are from US Sailing Nearshore and would apply to all racers):

  1. Each crewmember must carry a personal safety knife on their person while racing,
  2. There shall be a sheath knife accessible from the cockpit/deck.
  3. The boat shall have a sock-type 50 foot floating heaving line readily accessible from the cockpit.
  4. A handheld VHF radio shall be carried. For 2015 this VHF must have internal DSC/GPS capability to broadcast its location to the USCG which is similar to what cell phones do today with 911 calls. Most older handhelds don’t have this capability and will need to be replaced by 2015. A fixed mounted VHF with DSC cannot be substituted for the handheld.
  5. Two-thirds of the crew must have practiced a man overboard drill during the racing year.
  6. Each boat must have a permanently installed manual bilge pump which is operable from the
  7. The boat shall have USCG approved sound devices, flares and fire extinguisher.
  8. For PHRF Baywide, existing lifelines that meet PHRF standards are grandfathered but replacements cockpit with handle attached via catch or lanyard.
  9. For PHRF Baywide, the engine must have fuel to run at the specified speed for 4 hours. For
  10. For PHRF Baywide, a 11.5” radar reflector and suitable anchor chain and line shall be carried. must be to the new standards. Therefore if your old vinyl-covered lifeline fails it must be replaced with either bare stainless or HMPE of the size specified in the regulations. outboards with integral tanks and battery outboards, spare fuel and battery may be necessary.
  11. For PHRF Baywide all lifesaving equipment and life jackets shall be printed/stenciled with either  the owner or boat name along with reflective material.

PHRF has not yet finalized its version of PHRF Baywide and PHRF Nearshore but they should be on PHRF website early in 2014. At this time these new regulations do not apply to cruisers but you may want to review them as they are a good guide as to what you should have on a boat for safety especially if you are sailing in the Ocean. The US Sailing version is available via the following link.

PHRF of the Chesapeake has a new website and things should run smoother than last year. There is a new two year early “renewal option” at $35 which is the same as last year’s “late season” 1 year renewal to offer a better value and simplify the process.

If you have questions on these new requirements please call me at 804 690 3540.

Mayo Tabb

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