PHRF Racing

Whether you are experienced or novice, come participate in the South Sound Sailing Society race program. Even if your main interest is cruising, the experience you gain while racing will prove invaluable as will the friendships you make. The purpose of boat racing is to have fun and develop skills as a sailor.

The Sailing Society has five Classes in which to race. S, H, A, and B Classes use spinnakers, flying sails, and require a PHRF handicap. Your handicap and boat design determines which Class you are in. Lower handicaps are assigned to faster boats.
Any boat can race in D Class. D Class boats do not need to belong to PHRF. You cannot fly a spinnaker, though. If you have not raced much, D Class is a good place to start and learn the basics. You can sail conservatively, or competitively. Many experienced South Sound skippers prefer to race in D Class.


What to Do to Start Racing

  • Join a PIYA affiliated club - like the Sailing Society
  • Obtain a handicap
  • Obtain a sail number
  • Register to race
  • Volunteer for Race Committee
  • Have your Safety Gear
  • What You Need to Know to Race
  • Some Ways to Learn About Racing

So you’ve joined South Sound Sailing Society, a PIYA-affiliated club. That’s your first step to club racing. Now what do you do?

Get a Handicap: Contact the club handicapper. To join PHRF, request an application form from the handicapper. Fill out the form and return it to the handicapper with the appropriate fee. You will be notified of your boat’s handicap. Once you’ve joined, annual renewal notices will be sent directly to you from PHRF Northwest.
If you want to race in D Class, you can get an informal rating from the D Class Captain. Contact the SSSS Race Chair to get the contact information for the Class Captain. These informal handicaps may be used only when racing in D Class.

Get Your Sail Numbers: These are required to race. Contact the PIYA Representative or the PHRF Handicapper for an application for numbers. Fill out, sign and submit the form to the PIYA secretary, along with the appropriate fee. This is a one-time charge. PIYA will notify you by mail of your sail number assignment. Affix the numbers on your mainsail and on all headsails of 130% or greater in accordance with RRS Appendix G and PIYA Special Regulation specifications. Self-sticking numbers are readily available from any sailmaker.

If you’ve purchased a boat with existing PIYA/USSA sail numbers, you must advise PIYA by mail or telephone to have the numbers registered in your name. PIYA will not register production or hull numbers except for yachts belonging to a one-design class accepted by PIYA. Contact the PIYA representative for further information.

Register to Race: All members of SSSS are eligible to race for a race fee. An annual fee entitles you to an entire year of club racing, from summer buoy races to long courses all over south Puget Sound. Pay your Race Dues prior to your first race. (Visit your Member Profile page to pay Race Dues.) Then contact the scorer ( Give them your name and your boat’s name, sail number, and rating. Not sure you’re really going to like racing? You can do a free trial race to see if it’s for you. Be sure to let the Race Chair or scorer know, though.

Volunteer for Race Committee: The SSSS race program is run by volunteers. Every race skipper is asked to volunteer for race committee duty once a year. This helps keep the cost of our program low. Special consideration is given to race committee boats in the series scoring process so you’re not penalized for this contribution to the program. All the equipment you need to run a race is provided. Complete information on how to run a race is included in this chapter. In addition, you can go out with another skipper serving as Race Committee before doing it yourself the first time. Serving as race committee boat is a great way of returning the favor to all the other skippers who do this important function. It’s also an excellent opportunity to take photos for the Ship-to-Shore!

Have your Safety Gear: Please refer to this SSSS amended chart for the Inlet and Island Series:


All other races require the minimum Coast Guard safety equipment.

Liability Insurance: Boats sailing in any race must be insured against third party liability for racing risks. The minimum coverage shall be $300,000. Proof of same may be requested.


What You Need to Know

Learn Basic Sailing First: You should know how to sail to sail up and down wind. You should know how to safely tack and gybe.

Learn the Rules: The Racing Rules of Sailing guide and control the conduct of all participating yachts. It is important that each skipper know and understand the rules. Understanding the rules forms the basis for tactical decisions on the race course and helps reduce the occurrences of embarrassing and potentially dangerous situation. Rules enable a lot of boats to sail in close proximity in heavy wind and weather and to do it safely.
Pay particular attention to Part 2, When Boats Meet. It is only 10 pages and covers most of what you need to know to keep from hitting othe boats.
Don’t forget to read the Sailing Society Sailing Instructions which modify the rules somewhat for local racing.
Give way when in doubt. Crew and boat safety is the highest priority.

Build your own crew. Racing a sailboat is a team effort. If you’re serious about racing, it’s worth developing a regular crew to be the core of your team. Pick up crew are valuable, but it’s good to have some regular crew who know the workings of your boat and are committed to being a part of your long-term team.


There Are a Number of Ways to Learn About Racing

1. Consider crewing with an experienced skipper until you feel comfortable enough to try it yourself. Sign up on the "Wants to Crew" list with the Ship-to-Shore, or find a boat you’d like to crew on and ask if they need crew. Many skippers welcome the opportunity for an extra hand on board.

2. Attend SSSS Meetings. Our guest speaker program every month is a storehouse of information for new and experienced racers. Many of our guest speakers will help you unravel the mysteries of sail trim, tactics, weather, and racing rules. And SSSS Members love to talk to about sailing and racing.

3. Read one of the many fine books on racing and sailing. The Timberland Library System has an excellent collection of books on sailing. For example, Mr. Perry’s book on the Racing Rules of Sailing explains them with examples and commentary.

4. Check out our videos on racing and general sailing. The Timberland Library has videos, including some tapes from J-World Sailing School. Consider attending SSSS sailing seminars when they are offered.

5. Ask other sailors. We learn from each other. We are all interested in getting you out on the water and participating in Sailing Society activities. Ask for help and/or advice and you’ll get it. Those with similar boats may prove the most helpful. If you don’t know who to ask, ask the Race Chair.

6. When you’re ready to race your boat, ask an experienced sailor to assist on your boat in the first few races. You’ll learn more quickly and become a more competitive racer sooner than if you learn by trial and error alone.

Learning to race is challenging and rewarding. There is a lot to learn: rules, currents, weather, tactics, the aerodynamics of sails, etc. Then you have to apply your knowledge, build a team that can actually sail the boat, and practice until you do it well. You’ll never learn it all. But if it were easy it wouldn’t be so satisfying and fun. See you on the water!

If you have photos you'd like to share with the club, please email the Webmaster with either a link to where the photos are stored (such as OneDrive, Flickr, etc.), or, if you have only a few photos, you can attach them to your email, either one by one, or as a .zip archive. Please be sure to tell us what event or race was photographed, the date, and who should be given credit for the photos.




(Older photos to be added as time allows.)


Email the race chair at to let us know what date you want.

Here is the latest RC signup as of 10/16/2017: RC Signup Sheet (PDF) 

2017-18 RC Racer Roster - Sign Up (.xlsx)

2017-18 Season RC Sign-up Sheet (.xlsx)