Personal signal flags / plaques for CYC Members

Periodically I get asked questions about the personal signal flags or plaques that hang in CYC Belmont Station (near the bar) and in Monroe (in the Captain's cabin though they may be moving to the Mac bar).

So here’s the deal with the plaques. These are ‘private signals’ that boaters used to fly back in the day before cell phones made it easy to figure out who was on which boat. From an etiquette guide:

Owner's Private Signal: This is a personal flag, often called house flag. It is usually swallow-tailed, designed by the individual owner to depict a personal interest, hobby, family tradition, initials, or the like. A private signal should be a unique design and always in good taste. It should not include or be the ensign of a foreign country, nor duplicate a design previously adopted by someone else. On a mastless vessel, fly your private signal from the bow staff. A single-masted vessel may wear it at the truck of the mast (replacing any other signal normally worn at that point) or from a spreader halyard.

All CYC members are entitled to have their personal signal flag hang at both stations as far as I can tell (I've never seen anything saying you needed to own a boat or anything like that). Here's how to get them made.

So the first step is to get a design in place and produce the art files needed (computer files - usually .TIFF, .PSD or really high res JPG). If you or a friend can do this, great, but i hired a company to do it online, for about $100.00 as I recall. I gave them the concept and they had a designer come up with some drafts. I used this outfit - https://www.designsdesk.com/ - but there are plenty of others that do similar work. It's an easy way to get it done.

This is the hardest part, but also the most fun, in terms of designing it. Remember, the flag is a personal, private signal, not a boat signal. So you could use the logo from your boat, but you don’t necessarily have to, and a lot of people wouldn’t - they’d do something that plays off your name, or some other hobby or something. If two family members are both members of the Club, technically they should have separate personal signals, but in practice this is not always done (see e.g. The O'Neills or Miareckis).

The Gallaghers do have a flag with our penguin on it, but that would follow us to any boat we ever owned, not just Endeavour. So take that into account when designing it. The art should be personal to you.

Once you have the art file, you can reach out to CYC member Don Glasell dongla1520@sbcglobal.net. Don will actually print the plaques in the right size and format for hanging in both Belmont and Monroe. There’s a cost - $150 or so I think. He can get extras if you want. Don will get them to you, then you give one to Dwight and one to Jill to hang up.

Please reach out to me with any questions.

Equipment for Opti Sailing

Last Updated April 3, 2016

Here’s a basic introduction to equipment for non-sailing parents. At the bottom are links and contact information for suppliers.

Reminder - Label every single thing with your name, sail number and phone number when possible. Things go astray, kids 'borrow' things, and stuff goes missing with frightening frequency. Label it or loose it.

(Thanks to the San Fransisco Yacht Club's Junior program, from where I borrowed parts of this guide).

Safety Equipment

Life Jackets - The kids like slimmer PFD’s (Personal Flotation Device = PFD = Life Jacket), but they must be US Coast Guard approved Type III. Some from Gill or Zhik look cool but are not Coast Guard Type III. Look for a small pocket for chap stick and the like. CYC requires use of USCG Type IIIs at all times. The more comfortable it is, and the 'cooler' the color, the more your sailor will want to wear it, so involve them in the decision.

Whistle – required for all USODA events.You need a piece of small line to tie it to your PFD.

Boats

Our program requires boat ownership for our racing teams. CYC boats may be available for charter for the first season your child is trying the race team. There are usually a few good used boats available from kids that have aged out of Optis. There are also some great deals after big USODA events or other major regattas like the Orange Bowl when boats come off charter or kids age out of the program. The biggest brands are: McLaughlin, Winner, and others. The same sails, spars and blades work in any hull. There are standard USODA requirements for hull weight, blade, spar and sail size so it’s best to get your equipment from someone who has sailed competitively or from a reputable dealer.

Ask your coach or other parents about boat buying options.

Spars

Spars - The basic Opti package often comes with silver spars. Fairly quickly your sailor should move to the competitive Black & Gold spars.

Practice Spars & Blades - some sailors will have a separate set of 'practice' spars and blades. We encourage our sailors to train with the equipment they will race with, so they don't need to adjust come regatta day.

Spar bag- You will need a travel bag to protect your spars and you sail. To give this bag rigid protection you should take this bag to the hardware store or landscape drainage supplies equipment store and buy a 10’ long piece of 4” diameter PVC THIN WALL (NOT SCHEDULE 40!) piping without the perforation holes that will fit into the sleeve. You can ask the hardware store to cut the piping to 7'7" (91 inches) (Check McLaughlin’s FAQ for this dimension) for you. Ideally try to ease the sharp edge of the ends with a file so that the sharp edge will not quickly cut through the cloth of your spar bag. Your sailor will roll the sail on the boom and place this in the PVC sleeve for protection.

Blades

Tiller & Centerboard – must conform to USODA size restrictions that were put in place in recent years. Some of the older centerboards are extra long and can’t be used for USODA events. Best brands are N1 or TEB. However the generic ones are fine. Consider how much nice blades cost and how well a younger green fleeter will treat them before shelling out the big bucks. Consider used or standard for new / younger sailors.

Blade bags – Different brands are Colie, Magic Marine (slightly cheaper), Sail Intensity and Optiparts.

Boat Covers

Bottom Cover – the bottom cover offers basic protection. It should have padding and be easy to remove.The Colie Sail cover is very durable and easy to remove. You must have your sailors name clearly visible on the transom of your boat and cover so that we can identify you on the sail racks and the trailer. You can have your name screened onto some covers like the Colie cover. (McLaughlin will gladly paint your name on the transom readable when hull is flipped bottom facing up on an Optiparts cover)

Top Cover- This is really nice to have as it protects your boat when it’s on the trailer. You don’t have to secure your mainsheet or bailers if you have a top cover.

Sails

Racing sail – Some kids have a racing sail as well as a practice sail. At the more competitive level you may have a light wind sail and a heavy wind sail. Improving performance usually depends more on improving sailing ability then on perfect equipment. Some families let their sailor earn a new sail by meeting certain performance and commitment criteria. There’s a lot of technical information on the sail choices, with the biggest factors being sailor’s weight and ability. Coach Augustin or some of the Opti parents would be glad to give advice.

Sail numbers- Sail numbers are assigned by the USODA office and are permanently assigned to a particular hull. You cannot pick your own sail numbers! E-mail: USODA@usoda.org or Phone: (609) 510-0798. There is a very particular way that sail numbers need to be laid out. You can consult the USODA website for this information. If you buy a new sail, have the sail maker put the numbers on for you (generally free with the purchase of a new sail.) Sail number color: red is great for the beginners, as parents can pick out their sailor when viewing from offshore. For more advanced racers, red is usually avoided because your sailor is easier to identify if over the starting line early! Choose blue.

Trailer

Each Opti sailor needs to own a trailer. Again, label every single part. Wheels in particular tend to go astray. These often come with the boat if you buy it used; you can also buy from online sources or some local sailmakers.

Tie down straps: Each sailor needs to own at least two. We recommend these: http://tinyurl.com/gvnzubs

Other Gear

Main Sheet – Tapered mainsheets are easier to pull in. There are blocks that go with the main sheet; smaller sailors can get 4:1 block systems rather than the normal 3:1. It allows them to use less force to pull in the sail.

Bailers – You will need 2 large bailers with stretchy tie lines. These wear out or get lost so it’s a good idea to have back up.

Wind indicator – These insert into the top of the mast. They’re often lost so you should label them and have back up. A #9 knitting needle also works well and is much cheaper.

Mast ties – the thinner black ties hold the knot better. Buy a spool of the 1.5 MM spectra type line from an Opti dealer and save money. Get a spool of the larger size diameter for corner ties.

Tell tales- You should ask your coach where to put them on the sail.

Mast Clamp – This is VERY important to have. It locks your mast in place so that if you flip over you don’t lose your mast or damage the mast collar. The best $40 you will ever spend (damage caused by mast slipping out of its cup is $500 plus and the boat will have lost a ton in value due to this type of damage.)

Bow line – This is a mandatory safety requirement so that your sailor can be safely towed. It MUST BE FREE OF KNOTS to avoid problems with towing hook-ups in heavy wind! It should be line that floats and is designed to tow Opti’s. Again Opti dealers have them.

Hiking strap systems - The latest have “grippy” rubber on the underside. Zhik is the innovator brand. However, Sail Intensity has a great copy of the Zhik type and much more affordable. Grippy topped boots really allow a sailor to “lock in” and become one with the hull when hiking.

CLOTHING

The lake is cold even when it may be hot on the dock. Your child will NOT be learning much if they’re too cold. Having the proper gear can prevent hypothermia. Stay away from cotton.

Spray gear – The spray jacket and farmer john spray pants need to be wind and water- proof. Gill and Gull are good brands that are available in Youth sizes. They should be roomy enough to be worn over a wet suit. Bigger is not a problem and will allow for some room to grow.

Wet suits – There are different thicknesses to chose from. This is a good layer for fall and spring sailing. Most kids protect their wet suits by wearing board shorts over top.

Hiking pants or hiking pads – these provide rigged support so the boat doesn’t hurt the back of the thighs. Some kids prefer to wear hiking pants rather then wet suits. I have not found Youth sizes in hiking pants, but Gill has adult XS. Zhik brand makes the pads that attach to your legs with a neoprene sleeve which the sailor steps into each.

Dry Suits – These are very expensive, but they make a huge difference to kids who get cold easily. They are fully sealed to keep the water out. You wear fleece layers underneath to keep warm. Only drawback is you can’t pee in them (or they’re no longer a dry suit) Look for ones with pee holes in front and a rear drop style panel for girls. Dry suits are required by CYC's program for spring sailing. Line Honors (link below) offers a 25% discount on Gill Drysuits to CYC junior sailors.

Sailing boots – these are a combination of neoprene and rubber soles to keep the feet warm. If it’s really cold you can add Smart Wool socks. They all stink! They should always be rinsed off and dried if possible. We keep ours in the garage with dryer sheets in them to mask the smell. There is an enzyme based cleaner which eliminates the odor build up typically found at surf shops and some sailing equipment stores.

Rash Guards & thermal layers – These come in different thicknesses for different weather. SFYC offers a team rash guard by Gill that only the race team kids can buy. Zhik also has some warm fleece lined rash guards and bottom layers for colder weather. Again, ask the older sailors what performs for them, and why they like the features of the brands they use.

Hats and gloves – There are many options from Gill, Zhik and all the major brands. The important thing is to wear them - to protect your skin from rope burn and sun burn! Phone numbers in Sharpie on everything will save you $.

Sunglasses – The reflection from the sails and the water is very damaging to the eyes so glasses that protect from UV rays is important. There are floating sunglasses available from Gill and Peepers (available at REI).

Tool kits

As sailors take more responsibility for rigging and adjusting their boats a tool kit is helpful. See our separate post on the contents of an Opti tool kit.

Sailing Gear Suppliers

Surprisingly, much can be found on Amazon.com. It's worth checking there.

Clothing

Line Honors, owned by a CYC member and sponsor and parents of their own Opti sailors: http://www.linehonors.com. LineHonors is offering 25% off of Gill products to CYC sailing school sailors and parents through 4/30/16. At checkout, simply input the coupon "CYCSC16" and the 25% off discount will be applied. They are very helpful with sizing questions if you call them.

Gear

Sturgis Boatworks: Hyannis Mass - sturgisboatworks.com

Colie Sail http://www.coliesail.com

Intensity Sails http://www.intensitysails.com

McLaughlin Optimists http://www.optistuff.com

Landfall http://www.landfallnavigation.com

Defender Marine http://www.defender.com

West Marine http://www.westmarine.com

Sails

Doyle Sails Chicago - John Baxter
312-421-9990 - www.doylesails.com

UK- Halsey Chicago -Mike Considine
312-326-1053 - www.uksailmakers.com

Quantum Sail Makers - Andy Camarda
312-225-0801 - www.quantumsails.com

North Sails - Perry Lewis
773-489-1308 - www.northsails.com

Basic Opti Tool Kit / Spare Parts

Last updated late in the day April 3, 2016, to add "Amy's Real Life Tool Kit" to complement "Jay's Crazy Comprehensive Tool Kit"

Buying an Opti for your young sailor is a bit of a commitment. Since they’re no longer using club-owned boat, your sailor (and you) must be prepared and fully equipped to maintain your boat. Since you own the boat, the Coaches will no longer be providing spare sail ties, wind indicators and the many other small pieces of equipment needed to sail an Opti. We wanted to put together for all parents a “must have” and “nice to have” list so you can be sure that your sailor will have everything he or she needs to successfully sail.

The "must have" list should be in a small bag or toolbox. It should be brought to sailing each day and brought home each night. Like everything else in junior sailing, clearly label every single item with your sailors' name and sail number.

The "nice to have" list contains more significant repair items to keep your sailor on the water. We'd recommend having this at any important regatta or when traveling.

Jay's Must Have for your tools/spare kit

1 Spare Wind Indicator (#9 Knitting needle works just as well)
1 Spare Air Bag
1 Sponge
1 Roll of Sail Repair Tape
1 Can of McLube (lubricant)
1 Roll of Electrical Tape
1 Pair of Pliers
1 Screw Driver
1 Tape Measure (metric)
1 Spool sail ties for sail (1.2 mm vectran)
1 spool corner ties (3mm vectran)
1 knife (Leatherman Wave Multitool is great)
1 lighter (to melt line ends)
2 Magic Markers (2 colors)

Jay's Nice to Have for your tools/spare kit

Opti Vang
Lower Sprit Control
Spliced V12 Upper Sprit Control (3 mm vectran)
Lower sprit (4mm vectran)
Outhaul
Whistle
Mast Tie-In and keeper
Personal Rescue Knife
Epoxy Packet
Protest Flag-in-a-Bag
Mast Sleeve and Collar
Set of Nuts and Bolts for Mast Collar
Tiller Universal
Set of Dolly Pins
Painter 5/16” by 6 meters
Extra bailer
Bungee cord 3/16

Another Kehoe has chimed in with a similar, yet different version. Presenting "Amy's Real Life Toolbox" Suggestions:

Everyday Toolbox, Spare parts list for everyday: (Stuff you need now)

Sailties: PLEASE! pre-cut w/ends burned ( FYI - Full Set is 12@1.5 mm, 5@3mm, PLUS some spares)
Spool 1.5 or 2 mm vectran
Spool 3 mm vectran
Wind Indicator & spares or #8-#9 knitting needles (2)
Spare Bailer with bungee tie-in
Spare Airbag
Spare centerboard tie-in line (3' @3mm)
Spare mast tie-in (12" @3mm)
Sharpie Marker (LABEL EVERYTHING!!)
Rigging Knife (single blade is fine)
Pliers
Electrical tape
Spare Whistle with string to tie to lifejacket

Boat Care Bucket

Lake friendly soap
Sponge (Big) also used to remove water after rinsing/sailing

Travel Kit for Traveling to events (most gear $$ avail on-site at big events)

Spare Bow line (6 meters @5/16" must float!!)
Spare main sheet
Spare Vang & Outhaul lines
Spare 5/16 for hiking strap tie in
Spare upper/lower sprit halyards (3 mm vectran)
Spare boom bridle line (4' 2mm Sailtie)
Small Protest flag in bag
2 Screwdrivers (- & + , aka. flatty & posi)
Sail Repair Tape
Spare pop-in tiller extension (with universal)
2-3 long shackles with pin & clevis ring
Mast Sleeve and Collar
Set of Nuts and Bolts for Mast Collar
10' @3/16" bungee cord

Campaign Equipment

Spare boom, sprit, mast
(Some folks get a spare boom for rolling a race sail)
Spare tiller & extension
2-part epoxy
Practice Sail and Race Sail of the same design/cut.

Note: Contact info for vendors of virtually all these items is at the bottom of this post.

We bought a new boat

We bought a new boat with our friends Don Maxwell and Dan Gabriel.  We are the proud owners of J/70 hull #14 Surprise (formerly NoPro). The J/70 is a small (22 foot) racing sailboat, which Don, Dan & Matt intend to race locally and nationally. Our sail number is USA 14.

We bought the boat 1/8/16 and Matt got to sail it in a regatta right away with its former owner, Mark Foster, and our friends Chuck Nevel and Laura Sigmond, event 2 in the Davis Island J/70 Winter Series (the boat was entered under Mark's name as NoPro). We did really well by my estimation, finishing 18th out of 48 boats and had 2 top-10 finishes. 

There are some photos of us sailing at the J/70 Facebook page and there are some great ones below from Phil Pape

Phil Pape Photography: Sailing &emdash; J70 DIYC Jan 10-34

Phil Pape Photography: Sailing &emdash; J70 DIYC Jan 10-38


Orange Bowl Logistics for CYC Opti Team 2015

Dear Orange Bowl Parents

I hope you all are excited about going to the Orange Bowl, which is just over a month away! For some of us, this is a second trip, but for many, it's a first. I wanted to try to coordinate some logistics for everyone.  Please feel free to reach out to Bobby, Augi or me with any questions on any of this below.  This is long, but please take the time to read it now. It will save a lot of work down the road.

 

#Spectator Boat

CYC is sending down one of its center console boats, Kay Baxter, which we can use as a spectator boat.  The club is charging us, I believe $800, for the use of the boat during the trip. We will split this by family for any that take advantage of it.  Tom Barnard and I are certified to drive the boat, and its capacity is 7 people.  We'll shuttle in and out on all days that the kids sail and the weather is decent so everyone gets a chance to watch for a while. We will accomodate extended families and friends if possible, but priority will go to sailors parents and siblings.  If you think you'd like to go out to watch, please email me no later than December 1 so we can get an estimate of how many are interested. Also, **you must bring US Coast Guard PFDs for any and all that want to go on the boat**.  The boat has a couple of cheapo-adult PFDs on board and none for kids, and it is a new CYC Junior Sailing Program Policy that all on CYC boats will be wearing PFDs at all times at junior sailing events. We make the kids wear them, so we need to set the right example. Please bring sufficient PFDs for all that want to ride, and they must be USCG approved (sorry, Alex, the beloved Whale Water Wings will not count). We will have to deny you permission to ride if you don't come with a PFD.

 

#Team Shirts

Last year, we coordinated an order of tech t-shirts for the kids so they had a team shirt.  I'd like to do this again and hope all will participate. I'll coordinate and pay for the order and you can reimburse me. I will bring the shirts down to Florida. **Please email me the following by November 28:**

- Your sailor's shirt size

- Their name as they'd like it to appear on the back of their shirt

- Their favorite 2-digit number

I really hope all kids on our team can order shirts and we'll look very sharp down there!\

 

#Team Dinner

We are going to try to coordinate a team dinner with the CYC 420 sailors who are at Orange Bowl. We'll find some restaurant that can accomodate our whole group. We are targeting December 26 for our dinner.  **Please email me no later than December 1 with a number of adults and a number of kids that would attend that dinner, so I can get a sense of scope.**

 

#Logistics

Just like any other regatta, we need parent help each and every day to both get the sailors ready to go and to help recover them at the end of the day. **The programs's expectation is that each sailor will have at least one able-bodied adult there until the kids launch and at least one able-bodied adult standing by waiting to help when the sailors come back in.** More helpers are better! This is a 300+ boat regatta and is very challenging logistically - this is not one where we can 'team up' or come to help but be supervising other siblings or the like; it's just too crazy.

Likewise, with 300+ boats and hundreds of people from around the world, stuff gets lost easily. *We strongly recommend that every single piece of gear you have that you own be labled with your sailor's name and "Chicago Yacht Club" or "Chicago".*  There are lots of 'CYC's around the world, so putting that isn't terribly helpful. Putting a cell phone number on your stuff also would be prudent.

We will set up a GroupMe group chat, like normal. **Please email me no later than 12/15 with a list of all mobile phone numbers you'd like on the list.** It's a royal pain to add them during the regatta, so I'd really appreciate it if you would get me that info before then.

For those of you who haven't been to Coral Reef before, they are a great host. If you are a member of CYC or another yacht club with which they have reciprocal privileges, you can establish a guest charge account up on arrival. They have one of the best yacht club pools anywhere and a fantastic bar.  The sailing venue is some distance offshore, so you will not be able to watch from the land.

 

#Schedule

Coral Reef's website has all sorts of information, including the rough schedule: http://www.coralreefyachtclub.org/Waterfront/orange-Bowl-Regatta-2015/SCHEDULE.aspx

Our coaches will get back to us with morning report times, but remember that the end of the day is flexible - it depends on wind and weather and many things beyond the control of our coaches.

 

#In summary

Orange Bowl is a fantastic experience. A bit of advice I got from a friend (our now Vice-Commodore) is that your kid should bring a notebook and pencil, meet a couple of kids from around the world, and get their email addresses so they can become pen pals. It's a great idea and your sailor will soon have friends all over the world. 

If you have any questions, reach out to the Gallaghers, Barnards, Prendergasts - we're happy to help!

 

I will post the text of this to our family website, www.teamgallagher.net.

 

Matt

312-451-4954

 

**Key Deadlines**

 

November 28 - Shirt order information

December 1 - Team dinner - # of adults and kids

December 1 - Spectator boat - # of parents and siblings who might want to watch

December 15 - Phone Numbers for GroupMe list

Parent's Guide to Opti Sailing Pt 2 - Entering the Race

While many of our CYC Opti Team kids have parents or siblings who race sailboats, certainly not everyone does. I am going to attempt in this post to give a bit of an overview of how sailboats are raced. At the end will be a few books and other resources for you to learn more.  This article will talk about the basics of entering a regatta - what you need to know to get to the starting line. The next will discuss the rules for the sailors once they get racing, so you have some idea what your little one is talking about!

Sailboats are raced by everyone from young children to people in their 80s and beyond, which is one of the great things about the sport; it is truly a lifelong sport. Whether sailing an Opti or a Volvo Ocean Race boat, sailors must agree to a common set of rules, just as in other sports. These rules cover everything from how to enter a race, what eqipment you must have, who has the right of way, and more.  The standard rules are called the Racing Rules of Sailing. They're updated every four years by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the international governing body of the sport of sailing. Each country has an equivalent organization - in the US, it's called US Sailing. US Sailing is the governing body for all sailboat racing in the US, from a local Opti regatta all the way up to the CYC Race to Mackinac. The rules adopted by US Sailing and ISAF make it possible for sailors to know how to enter a race and what rules to follow both on and off the water.

Optis are a type of boat called a "one-design" boat, meaning that all Optis which comply with the class rules are exactly the same and thus the boats can compete evenly - it is the skill of the sailor that should make the difference. In order to manage the Opti class, there are parallel bodies to ISAF and US Sailing, namely the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) as the international body and the US Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) as the US body. IODA/USODA make sure all Optis raced in the US are the same. Like US Sailing and ISAF, these nonprofit entities are largely run by volunteers who love the sport of sailing. Membership in US Sailing or USODA is often a requirement of entry in a regatta, so I strongly suggest that you have your junior sailors join both bodies now online via the links above. (You do not join the international body, but rather the US one, in both cases). You do not need to own a boat to join either organization. For families, US Sailing offers a family membership which gives each family member their own membership number and may be less expensive than joining

One of they key things our coaches teach at CYC's sailing school is an understanding of the rules. All sailors should read and strive to understand the rules, and their parents must understand the basics, particularly about entering a regatta.

What is a regatta?  A regatta is simply a series of sailboat races, organized so as to be scored together and run by a single entity. Most often, a regatta is sponsored by a yacht club. The Club serves as the "Organizing Authority" for the event - this is the entity which establishes the regatta, coordinates both on- and off-the-water activities, and generally runs the event. When an Organizing Authority (OA) wants to set up a regatta, the first thing they do is publish the Notice of Race (NOR).

The NOR is the key document for a sailor (and their parents)! The NOR sets out all the requirements of entry; the dates and time and location of the regatta; information on how to register and costs; the classes of boats that will be raced; the rules that will apply, and all sorts of other important information on the event. It's the contract between the sailor and the OA and should give you enough information to decide whether or not to enter and to plan your attendance at the event.

Some examples of NORs from recent regattas include the 2015 USODA Midwest Championships, the 2015 Macatawa Bay Junior Olympics,  the 2015 Orange Bowl, and the 2014 USODA Midwest Championships held at CYC (click on links to view). For fun, here are the CYC Mac NOR, the Sydney-Hobart Race, and the Volvo Ocean Race. As you can see the adult events' NORs, while more complicated, follow the same basic format.  Pretty much all events post their NOR on the Club's or Event's website, so that's the best place to start looking, but you can always ask our coaches or me for help tracking it down.

Every parent and every sailor should download and read the NOR before deciding to enter a regatta and should save a copy!  I cannot emphasize this enough. The NOR will answer virtually all your questions on how to enter, whether you should enter, and what you need to do to enter, plan your trip, etc. When I ran the Mac race in 2014 and 2015, about 95% of the questions I received from competitors could have been answered if they had just read the NOR, and the same goes for our opti sailors. If you're not ready to enter an event yet, download one of the samples above and read through it so you understand what's involved.

Some key things to look for in the NOR when you download it:

  • What are the dates, times and location of the regatta? These virtually always will remain unchanged. 
    • "First warning" is the time that the first race of the day will begin, usually expressed in military (24 hour) time.  Please note that this is NOT the time you show up at the venue, but rather the time that the sailor needs to be 100% ready, in his or her boat, and out at the start line. Normally you need to arrive 2-3 hours before this time at the venue. Your coach will provide you guidance on this.
    • Many regattas post a "No racing after xxxx" time.  This is designed to let you know about when the sailor will be done for the day.  Again, this is not the time to pick them up, but rather the time that the last race will start (no later than that time). Figure a few hours after that for getting the boat in, put away, etc. before you can leave/
  • What class(es) of boats will race? Will there be an opti green fleet? How are the other fleets organized?
    • USODA has the concept of a Green Fleet, for newer sailors.  See this article for information on what the Green Fleet should be all about. Not all venues offer Green fleets, and in events that are not USODA-sanctioned, the Green fleet may not follow these guidelines. Ask your coach.
  • Do you need to bring your own boat, or will charters be available?
    • Chartering an opti may make sense for certain travel regattas. Always discuss this with the coach.
  • Does the sailor need to be a member of US Sailing or USODA to compete? Many if not most regattas require membership in one or both organizations. 
    • Again, I urge you to have your sailor join both bodies today to avoid difficulties down the road.
  • How do I register? What are the deadlines? What is the cost?
    • Most, but not all, regattas offer online registration. Some require paper, and the deadlines are often strict. Please adhere to them carefully!
  • Do any special rules apply? 

 

After reading this post, you should understand how to find and read the NOR; what to look for in the NOR; how to register for a regatta; and how to figure out the basics of how the regatta will be run.

In addition to the NOR, a second document is issued closer to the actual regatta called the "Sailing Instructions." I'll talk about that in the next post; the SIs deal with matters that occur on the water.

 

A Parent's guide to Opti Sailing - Part 1

Introduction

I wanted to put down some information I thought might be helpful to parents of newer Opti sailors. Whether you are a sailor yourself, or whether this is a new activity for you and your family, entering the world of Opti sailing involves a lot of new terms, knowledge, and experiences. My wife Emmy and I have learned a lot since our son Charlie (also know as Chuckles) started sailing in Optis in 2014. We wanted to share what we’ve learned. Opti sailing can be rewarding for your child but also for your whole family.  Unlike a lot of other youth sports, the parents must stay involved throughout their child’s ‘career,’ and the rest of the family will also likely participate in some way. There are lots of links - you should click through for more information.

By way of background, I am a member of the Chicago Yacht Club and race my own cruising-racing boat with my wife and co-owner, Emmy. We have two small kids, Charlie (8) and Maggie (5), both of whom have participated in CYC's sailing school for several years. I serve on CYC's board and was chair of the Race to Mackinac in 2014 and 2015. Emmy and I both serve on CYC's Junior Activities Committee which oversees junior sailing, and I was just elected to a 4-year term to the board of directors of the US Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA), the organizing body for Opti sailing in the US. 

This first article is an overview of Opti sailing in general. Other articles will cover regattas, travel, a parent's role, competition on a national level or beyond, future opportunities for sailors beyond Optis, and as many other topics as I can think of. If you have questions, or there's something you would like me to write about, drop me or Emmy an email.  We're writing this from the point of view of parents,  but our CYC coaching staff is great and can answer many of your questions as well. Contact Bobby or Augustin. We may try to get some of the kids to contribute as well.

Why start sailing an Optimist?

    •    Optimists are designed for kids. 

    •    Single-handed is best for learning. They didn't learn to ride a bike on a tandem.

    •    Over 150,000 kids in over 110 countries cannot be wrong. It is the largest class of identical (one-design) sailboats in the world!

    •    The Optimist is not only the biggest dinghy class in the world, it is the fastest growing.

    •    Former Optimist sailors were over 85% of medal winners at the last Olympics. Everyone from great Olympians to great America's Cup Sailors to the average woman or man cruising off Chicago started somewhere, and many if not most started in Optis.

    •    Builders on five continents provide ample opportunities for travel sailing. In fact, traveling is a key part of the experience for youth sailors. More on this later.

    •    Almost any yacht club in the country or around the world that offers youth sailing will have an Opti fleet.

    •    The only dinghy recognized by the ISAF* exclusively for under 16 sailors   (*the world organizing body for sailing)

How is Opti sailing organized?

The vast majority of Opti sailors start sailing at the sailing school at a yacht club, community sailing center or park district. CYC's Junior Sailing school is one of the most prestigious in the country. Most Opti Sailors start sailing in the Green Fleet and move on to the ‘Championship Fleet’, also referred to a “RWB Fleet". What's the difference?

Opti Green Fleet

Green fleet is a special fleet for beginners. Green fleeters can be any age up to 15.  A green fleet might have skippers who are as young as 6 and as old as 15, but sooner or later they'll move into their age-appropriate fleet. A ten year old green fleeter would move into white fleet, a thirteen year old green fleeter would move into red fleet, etc. The purpose of the green fleet is to encourage novice sailors. To discourage sailors from staying in green fleet, in order to win races and receive awards, USODA’s policy is to present “Participation Awards” to all skippers sailing in the green fleet. By not crowning a champion,  sailors and their parents, are encouraged to move to the appropriate age fleet as they become more confident of their abilities. Not all events are organized under USODA rules (more on this later) and thus don't always follow this, but the basic idea is that a green fleet is not about winning, but about learning, having fun, and getting ready for competition in the RWB fleet.

Often times Green Fleet racing takes place on a separate race course that is smaller and more protected. Green fleet usually enjoys a shorter day on the water and/or a lunch break mid way through racing. Coaching is usually permitted during racing for the back half of the fleet.  Sailors generally do Green Fleet for one year, or until they are in the top third of green fleet, before moving up to Championship Fleet. Switching back and forth between Green and Championship Fleet is discouraged.

Green Fleet sailors sail the same type of boats with the same equipment as RWB fleeters do.

Championship Fleet - AKA Red White and Blue Fleet or RWB or Race Team

When sailors are ready to move out of Green Fleet they move into the "Opti Championship Fleet." At CYC, we call this the Race Team, and in other places it's called the RWB fleet, but it all means the same. To make Optimist racing in the United States as fair as possible, the class puts each skipper into an age group, called a fleet. White Fleet is for skippers who are 10 and under. Blue Fleet is for skippers who are 11 or 12. Red Fleet is for skippers who are 13, 14, or 15. Skippers move up to blue fleet on their 11th birthday and red fleet on their 13th birthday. At most regattas, the red, blue, and white fleets all start at the same time and race on the same course, but are scored separately according to fleet. On their 16th birthday sailors "age out" of the Optimist and are no longer allowed to compete in the class. More often than not, sailors "size out" before then. It's rare that sailors continue sailing the Opti once they reach 120 lbs.

The USODA

The United States Optimist Dinghy Association oversees Opti racing here in the US. The USODA is in charge of enforcing class rules, overseeing national/regional regattas, and selecting the US National Team. The USODA adheres to the rules and guidelines set forth by the International Optimist Dinghy Association. Opti sailors are STRONGLY encouraged to join the USODA. Although USODA membership is not required for many events, it is required for championships, qualifiers, and team-trials. Membership is also a good way to support the class that supports you! On the USODA website you'll find lots of great resources!

Other resources

The best single book on Opti sailing was written by CYC's own Jay Kehoe and Gary Jobson, the Winners' Guide to Optimist Sailing. It's written for kids but works for parents as well. It's available from Crowley's Yacht Yard (and Jay will autography your copy on request) as well as the usual internet sources. A lot of the content for the articles I am writing will be liberally lifted from the Optimist Parent Manual published by USODA. It gives you some idea of what to expect as an 'Opti Mom' or 'Opti Dad'.  You can download part one and part two of the Optimist parent manual for free. The Optimist Owner's Manual, available here, provides useful information on boat selection, repair and rigging. 

What's next

I expect the next few articles in this series to focus on

  • How racing is organized and the basic rules of racing
  • How regattas work
  • What is a parent's role in opti sailing
  • Yacht Club's Roles in sailing
  • What travel regattas are like from a parent and kid's point of view
  • Parent's role vs Coaches role in sailing
  • Buying an Opti

Bobby can notify you when a new piece is published but better yet you can subscribe to this in your favorite RSS reader program.

2015 Verve Offshore Distance Race

Endeavour competed in the Verve Cup Offshore Distance Race on Saturday August 8. We had a great crew and a fun time. Thanks to Jen, Grace, Rose, Ellie, Sarah, Dustin, Kurt, Brian, and Aiden who joined Chuckles, Emmy and Matt.

Thanks to all who joined us for a fun Verve!

Posted by Endeavour USA 52974 on Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 Mac

We competed in the 2015 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac aboard our Beneteau 37, Endeavour. It was our fifth Mac and our best finish to date. We finished 10th in the Cruising Division out of 38 entrants. 

Chicago Mac Race

Emmy & I, along with our friends Tom, Mark, Kevin, Chris, and Bill, will be doing the 103rd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac starting Friday. If you’re interested in our activities, read on.

You can track our progress during the race. There are two ways of tracking us:

1) We will be posting updates via twitter and Facebook. These will have position data along with brief updates from us on the water. To see these, either

a) Follow @endeavoursails on Twitter; or

b) “Like” our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Endeavour-USA-52974/213641645325198

c) Visit our home page, www.endeavourchicago.com. A link to our twitter feed is on the left side of the page. 

2) The race itself will track the entire fleet. You can see this via a link to tracking on www.cycracetomackinac.com. The link will be live Thursday night. 

The Facebook page will be the best way of tracking us.

We start at 3 p.m. on Friday in the “Cruising 2” section.  We anticipate finishing sometime on Monday. For general information on the race, see www.cycracetomackinac.com

Chicago Mac Race

Emmy & I, along with our friends Tom, Mark, Kevin, Chris, and Bill, will be doing the 103rd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac starting Friday. If you’re interested in our activities, read on.

You can track our progress during the race. There are two ways of tracking us:

1) We will be posting updates via twitter and Facebook. These will have position data along with brief updates from us on the water. To see these, either

a) Follow @endeavoursails on Twitter; or

b) “Like” our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Endeavour-USA-52974/213641645325198

c) Visit our home page, www.endeavourchicago.com. A link to our twitter feed is on the left side of the page. 

2) The race itself will track the entire fleet. You can see this via a link to tracking on www.cycracetomackinac.com. The link will be live Thursday night. 

The Facebook page will be the best way of tracking us.

We start at 3 p.m. on Friday in the “Cruising 2” section.  We anticipate finishing sometime on Monday. For general information on the race, see www.cycracetomackinac.com