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Frequently Asked Questions

The experience of the LMPHRF Council of Handicappers and the LMPHRF Technical and Executives Committees suggests that many questions are asked over and over again.  The most frequent and answers appear below.

What is LMPHRF?

Lake Michigan Performance handicap Racing Fleet; Inc. or LMPHRF is an Internal Revenue Service approved non-profit service corporation headquartered in Wisconsin that conducts its business in the states bordering Lake Michigan, the southwestern shore of Lake Superior, the bay waters and inland lakes in the geographic region. Primarily, LMPHRF does business in the upper Midwest and Canada.  Often times LMPHRF serves sailors in Florida, Ohio, and the east and west coasts that occasionally race in championship events on Lake Michigan.

LMPHRF's fundamental service is to determine performance handicaps for offshore monohull and multihull sailboats that compete in casual and championship racing, and to ensure that the important subordinate tasks that make the service possible are in place.  LMPHRF services do not extend to organizing or managing racing events. These services include handicapping, analysis of race data, hearing boat owner appeals of determined handicaps, development of the rule, and producing and delivering education seminars or forums. LMPHRF services do not extend to organizing or managing racing events

How is LMPHRF associated with US Sailing?

LMPHRF is part of the United States Performance Handicap racing fleet (USPHRF) that is a Technical Committee of the US SAILING ASSOCIATION.

What is a performance handicap?

A performance or empirical handicap is a single number developed to each boat type or class for application in time-on-time or time-on-distance scoring and determination of finish position. Examination of the finish position for a boat type or class in a sufficient number of races in various sailing conditions provides one way of verifying an initially and systematically assigned handicap and stabilizes its number within the particular region it sails.  It is not unusual for empirical handicaps to consider the overall influence of wind, sea conditions and course types that are typical for a particular geographic location or region.

May monohull and multihull boats race and be scored against one another?

No.  These hull forms are not intended to race against one another. LMPHRF handicaps, with respect to their numeric values, appear to be similar for monohull and multihull boats, but they are not.  Both hull forms go through the water and react to conditions of a race quite differently.  Where monhulls and multihulls are asked to race together, the multihull has a great advantage and will more often than not easily win.  The multihull handicap is determined by a similar, but not identical, empirical methodology to that used to determine a monohull handicap.  By rule, monohulls and multihull are not intended to race together in the same section or division within any competitive event; they are not to be scored together to determine finish position or prizes.  The NOR for any competitive event that accepts a current and validly issued monohull or multihull LMPHRF certificate of handicap for entry must clearly note this case without exception.

I have a non-spinnaker handicap, but my home club does not use it.  Why?

The Non-spinnaker Handicap or Jib & Main Handicap is one of several service handicaps provided to sailing clubs or associations that organize and manage competitive sailing events for monhull or multihull sail boats.  It is printed on every issued certificate of handicap. LMPHRF does not organize or manage casual of championship competitive events. The club or association must make the decision to use the Non-spinnaker handicap when it is feasible and there is demand for it.

What is a Distance Handicap?

A distance handicap (DHCP) is available for many boat types or classes to score port-to-port competitive events of over 25 nautical miles in length. This handicap is not formula based as is the case for measurement ratings. It is determined by empirical analysis of race result data.  The implication is that all boats will not automatically receive a DHCP that is different form the HCP since the HCP for some boats takes into account their excellent distance racing speed potential advantage. The DHCP handicap is printed on every issued certificate and may be identical to the HCP in numeric value.

What is a Time-On-Time Factor?

LMPHRF handicaps are time on distance handicaps applied to determine winners of
races.  It often is preferable to determine a time correction factor (TCF) for determining the order of finish in a race when the course distance cannot be accurately determined, or the course is a windward/leeward course, or the course is an exceptionally long port-to port course and the distance handicap is not applied, or the differential between the fastest boat and slowest boat in a section is more than 15 sec/nm, or the wind is light and
"fluky". A TCF is printed on every issued LMPHRF Certificate of Handicap. It is up to the race organizer to decide if Time-On-Time scoring is to be used in a competitive event.

Can I attend a LMPHRF Council of Handicapper's meeting?

Of course, observers are welcome.  Since the seating space in the Council Chamber is limited, registration in advance is essential.  Observers are not part of the proceedings and are not expected to address the Council since each meeting is time limited with a set agenda.  Contact LMPHRF Office via email to register to attend a Council of Handicappers meeting.

Can I find out the names and addresses of owners of sisterships?

Yes, of course. Please write the LMPHRF Office with your request.  You might consider using email ( to make your request.  The response to you will be provided in an email reply.

Why must I have a sail maker's measurement certificate?

Many times an application for a certificate of handicap provides the necessary measurements for determining a handicap. This is particularly true for designs that are well known and whose design date is prior to the 1980's.  Even then, if there is little recoded knowledge about the design a sail maker's measurement certificate is quite helpful to complete the critical dimension file for handicapping.  This is often true for boats whose design dates are in the 1920s or earlier.  The rapid development of sail plan design and materials for the construction of sails in recent years require full disclosure of the rig and sails attached to it.  One-of-a-kind or custom rigs are examples.  Only a sail maker's certificate can provide necessary valid measurement data. For new designs, a sail maker's certificate is essential. A sail maker's measurement certificate is also necessary to determine if a boat presented for handicapping meets the appropriate one-design specifications and rule. It is also important for modern but a little older designs to help identify the boat type or class that is often claimed in error.  When competitive sailors choose to modify their sail plan the sail maker's certificate is necessary to determine if a penalty to the handicap must be assessed.

What is a one-design boat?

Formally, a one-design designation refers to specification in class rules are on file and certified by both US Sailing and the International Sailing Federation.  Informally, owners of similar boat types in various regions of LMPHRF decide to race together and call the bunch of them a one-design class.  Such informal groups designating themselves as a one-design class may be a local decision for race organizers to accept or not.  These informal groupings of similar boats are not certified and often there are differences among them with regard critical dimensions and related speed potential even though the race organizer decides to allow "level" racing among them. A boat type or class that is certified as one-design will often times carry different sails, crew limits and crew weights that are  specified differently than a similar boat type or class not certified as one-design.  LMPHRF requires the one-design class rules to be on file and a note of certification or compliance with those rules from the class measurer in order for a boat to receive the one designation and associated handicap.

How do I obtain one-design certification for my boat?

Owners who wish to obtain a one-design designation and related handicap must first seek one-design certification from the class measurer and submit this with an application for a LMPHRF handicap.

Why can I not get a certificate of handicap by FAX?

The only certificate that is official is one mailed on watermarked paper with an embossed seal.  FAX documents are often hard to read and more importantly are not official.  On very rare occasion a facsimile of a handicap certificate may be emailed to an owner or race committee as an Adobe Acrobat portable document file.  Such a document is not official in any way and only represents that an official certificate has been mailed.

Why can't I just file a copy of the manufacturer's brochure to provide dimensions of my boat for handicapping?

Manufacturers' brochures are marketing tools.  They are incomplete with regard to most all critical dimensions of a boat required for handicapping and may not accurately reflect any dimensions that are presented. 

What are the duties and responsibilities of the LMPHRF Chief Handicapper?

The duties of the LMPHRF Chief Handicapper who also is the Chair of the Regional Handicappers group are to establish and maintain a database of race results for review and assignment of handicaps, to bring to the attention of the Council any handicaps which require modification, to study and recommend to the Council performance handicaps for racing sailboats new to the fleet and for those boats whose handicaps have been
appealed, to represent LMPHRF in all national appeals of LMPHRF handicaps, to assist the LMPHRF Executive Director, and to officiate at meetings when the LMPHRF Executive Director, is not present.  The Chief Handicapper is a member of the LMPHRF Technical Committee.

What are the duties and responsibilities of the Chair of the LMPHRF Technical

The duties of the Head of the Technical Committee are to direct research on critical factors of racing sailboats affecting estimates of potential speed, to develop with the committee and with the assistance of Chief Handicapper algorithms that may improve the systematic assignment of performance handicaps, to develop various analysis and reports commissioned by the Council of Handicappers, to recommend to the Council a handicap for assignment to boat submitted for handicap assignment, and to suggest changes to the LMPHRF Rules and Associated Regulations.

How is LMPHRF different from LMSRF?

LMSRF, the Lake Michigan Sail racing Federation, and LMPHRF are separate organizations. LMSRF is a Regional Sailing Association affiliated with US SAILING.  LMPHRF is a performance or empirical handicapping organization affiliated with the USPHRF Technical Committee and US SAILING.

After my application or renewal document is received in the LMPHRF Office, how long does it take to obtain a certificate?

When an application for a new handicap is judged complete, it may take as long as 30 days to assign and mail a handicap if no sisterships are on file with certified handicaps. When a sistership is on file that matches the application for a new handicap, one could expect a handicap within 10 days.  When a renewal document is judged complete, one could expect a handicap certificate within in 10 days. There are these exceptions.  Certificates generated by April 1st of each season are mass mailed at that time through the LMPHRF regional handicappers. When an application or renewal document is judged to incomplete, in anyway, it is returned to the boat owner for correction and creation of a certificate may take longer time.  Owners applying for a new certificate for their boat whose dimensions are altered during the season may not expect rapid turn around for a new certificate of handicap that must be approved by the Council of Handicappers.  Applications for a certificate within a few days of a race may not be handicapped in time for entry.

Who are the members of the LMPHRF Executive Committee?

The Executive Committee comprises the LMPHRF officers, regional handicappers, Chief Handicapper, Chair of the Technical Committee, and the legal advisor to LMPHRF, and the Chief Handicapper of LMPHRF, who is also the Vice Chairperson.

What is a valid LMPHRF certificate of handicap?

A valid certificate of handicap is a watermarked document with embossed seal that reflects the action of the LMPHRF Council of Handicappers who have assigned a performance handicap to the boat whose critical dimensions specified in the document.

What is the difference between a protest of a handicap and an appeal of a handicap?

Protests deal with a boat while racing that is alleged to be sailing with hull and rig specifications other than identified on the currently held certificate. LMPHRF is not involved in race management matters, it is solely a handicap assignment and certificate issuing body.  Hence, protests are properly made to a race management authority and not to LMPHRF.  Appeals deal with a request to change an assigned Lake Michigan performance handicap based on observation of performance supported by complete race results data.

What is the reason my submitted appeal documents and processing fee returned?

The documents provided are incomplete or judged frivolous and without merit by the Council upon recommendation from the Technical Committee.  A letter of explanation accompanies returned documents.

Where can I go to get satisfaction when my handicap appeal to LMPHRF is denied?

The Council of Handicappers recommends when the local LMPHRF appeal process is exhausted an appeal to USPHRF with automatic approval for such appeal.

What is race result analysis?

Race result analysis provides empirical data that is used to validate issued handicaps and to balance the fleet.  The analysis makes use of widely accepted algorithms in the US and other countries to

What is fleet balancing?

Fleet balancing is a process that examines the differentials in LMPHRF base handicap of boats that race to determine inconsistencies and correct them.

What do LMPHRF Regional Handicappers do?

Regional handicapper participate fully in Council activities and specifically, educate regional sailors regarding the terms of reference, procedures, rules and regulations of LMPHRF and USPHRF pertaining to the assignment of performance handicaps for qualifying monohulls and multihulls, validate new applications for performance handicaps., assist the Chief Handicapper and the Technical Committee in the measurement of a particular rig, hull, and sail plan when required.,   assist in the determination of initial handicaps for all yachts and the mailing of certificates of handicap to their owners. assist in the assignment of handicaps for yachts under review or appeal and the mailing of certificates of handicap to their owners when handicaps are changed, disseminate information to LMPHRF certificate holders in their region and answer questions that they may have., Bring to the attention of the Council of Handicappers written concerns of certificate holders in their region with the reference to the application of rules and procedures used for the systematic assignment of a LMPHRF handicap, and to attend regular meetings of the Council of Handicappers

What do club delegates to the Council of handicappers do?

Club delegates to the Council of Handicappers assist in carrying out its activities. The Council's major responsibility is to administer the development and assignment of performance handicaps to qualifying boats whose owners wish to race them competitively in the Lake Michigan region.  Specifically, the Council is vested with authority for establishing and exercising all procedures required to maintain compliance with the terms of reference of USPHRF and LMPHRF and for the development, assignment, adjustment, and appeal of all LMPHRF handicaps.  Additionally these delegates help educate members of their home club or association regarding the terms of reference, procedures, rules and regulations of LMPHRF and USPHRF pertaining to the assignment of performance handicaps for qualifying monohulls and multihulls, participate in the confirmation of recommended initial performance handicaps for all new yachts presented to the Council of Handicappers by the Executive Director, the Technical Committee and/or the Regional Handicappers Group, help prepare an appeal of a LMPHRF handicap by members of their home club or association for submission to the Technical Committee, LMPHRF regional Handicappers Group, and the Council of Handicappers for action, bring to the attention of their Regional Handicapper and to the LMPHRF Executive Director, written concerns about the application of the LMPHRF rule and procedures for systematic assignment of a handicap, and assist in disseminating information to certificate holders in their home club or association and help to answer any questions they may have.

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