Friday, December 9, 2016


On November 24-26 I had the privilege to coach a great group of sailors at at the USODA Midwinter Championship, hosted by Southern YC. Peter Barnard, Annie Samis, Christian Pendergast represented Chicago YC and our team was joined by Charlie Allen from Pewaukee YC. 

Chicago YC was led by Peter Barnard who finished 73rd out of 265 boats and received an invite to represent  the U.S.A. at the 2017 Lake Garda Optimist Meeting in Riva del Garda, Italy. Way to go Peter!!

Peter Barnard sailing out to the race course

We had two practice days prior to the event with great medium air conditions. We focused on boat speed, sail trim and starts. 

The regatta started on Thanksgiving day, 5 races total were sailed over the 3 day event. The course was a USODA trapezoid.

On the first day no races were sailed and heavy fog kept the visibility low. We had to keep sailors close because you literally couldn't see more than 50 yards in any direction. This day was a good test for us to recognize areas we needed improvement specifically patience with wind delays and improving on rigging.The kids needed to exercise more careful attention to tying their sail ties. Being a USODA regatta the top 10 finishers had to have their sail ties checked as well as safety equipment after each race to make sure they were legal. If one of your sail ties fall off or stretches too much you get a penalty. 

Fog day 1 

The second day the sailors arrived eager and ready to sail. With dying breeze throughout the day, the race committee was only able to get one race off. This one race however was a very good race for Annie and Charlie, who both managed to get clear air by sailing to the right edge of the course.  unfortunately lack of breeze led to multiple abandonments, leaving the fleet frustrated after only one race.

Towing the team in after first race on day 2

The final day of the regatta we managed to get 4 races off, which meant one throw out. The conditions on the last day started choppy, and breezy with north winds at 10 knots. As the day went on, the breeze swung left and died down to 4-7 knots.

Some take aways from this regatta:

Clear air was (and usually is) critical when sailing in light air. Additionally we found in light air that sailing to an edge also paid off. You had to pick a side, get off the line in clear air, and sail the shifts while working towards the edge that had the most pressure. It was important to constantly be looking for pressure on course and watching your angles to mark.

It was important at the start to find a nice hole on the line for which you can maintain clear air. Usually you could find a nice gap 2/3 away from the favored end of the line. 

Starting at the unfavored end also worked at this regatta for the first race on day two. 4 boats started at the unfavored end and the majority of the fleet (70+ boats) started at the crowded end of the line at the boat. The boat end was favored by 5 degrees, but it didn't pay off to start there because there was less clear air. Ultimately, the 4 boats that started at pin were able to tack and cross the fleet. 

The more boats you start around=the less wind that is there.

Also, the lighter the wind, the more important it is to have clear air. Have you ever noticed when you are on a starting line it feels like there is lighter wind than any other place on the course? This is because of the aerodynamics of the fleets collective wind shadow. At this regatta, if you were not one of the top 10 boats off the line, then you were stuck in the wind shadow of the fleet. Before the start its important to asses how favored an end is versus how crowded it’s going to be.

The goal on the reaches and runs was to keep clear air and maximize speed. Sailing high on the reaches was key to keeping your air clear.  

When kiting on the runs you want to sit as far forwards as you can for the given conditions. When doing this you reduce the amount of drag from the transom as well as the rudder. When you sit too far back in the boat, the transom digs in the water more than the bow because the transom has a wider profile and more surface area. Sailors need to position their knees forward and shins should be pressed up against the thwart. The boom should be out exactly at 90 degrees. Sailors also need to raise their daggerboards high enough (when boards are too low, boats are actually more prone to bow plow) and to let off sprit to release the crease and open the leach to create up flow on the sail. 

One thing I find important to teach sailors is the importance of fueling our bodies with the right ingredients for success. Hydration is critical for keeping the brain sharp. Our sailors were assigned homework to drink 4 large glasses of water at night after each day of racing and they continued to hydrate in the morning and on the water. As a result, our team had more energy throughout the day and were able to think clearly. Our team also worked on mental prep, by starting each day with a visualization exercise. Other ingredients for success include boat prep, eating healthy food, and having a good understanding of venue the by arriving early to practice, research, and looking at the forecast every morning.

Congratulations to all of our sailors for working hard at this regatta and thanks to all of the parents who made it possible!

Julia Melton


Photo credit-Tom Barnard

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Columbia YC Regatta -- 11/05-11/06

Hi all,

The opti race team competed at Columbia YC this past weekend -- the last regatta of the season for most. 

Some of the sailors were disappointed with their final results; however, I want to remind you that progress is not perfection. I saw an improvement with each and every sailor, whether that was on the starting line, leeward mark roundings, fleet management, or boat speed! It's so easy to get caught up with numbers and results, but it's important to establish mini goals. This will help establish a sense of accomplishment (which is typically harder to see/feel within yourself). 

This was a tricky venue, but fun! On both days, the puffs were clearly visible on the water, and we were working on thinking two steps ahead. 

  1.  The line was SO short -- which means we have to be earlier and more aggressive! 
  2. Being a Shark vs. Minnow -- Minnows set up on the line earlier, and have a “home”— They protect their spot/hole from the sharks. Sharks come in later and try to steal the minnow’s hole. Think about times in which you may want to be a shark vs. minnow. Maybe the fleet is more aggressive. Maybe the fleet is setting up too late and you have to be a minnow.
  3. With persistent right shifts, we needed to be able to stay on starboard after go. Meaning, we had to really focus on being in that first row, and maintaining our point, proper sail trim, and boat speed up for that first 30 seconds-1minute
  4. With persistent left shifts, we needed to plan ahead for the ability to tack right off of the line. On Sunday, sailors could not even make the pin from the boat, meaning HUGE lefty and not a square line. Instead of having a hole to leeward, we want to create our hole to windward! We got better with this as the day went on. I found that sailors were tacking onto port too late, and would wait for ‘go.’ Jump the gun, and get up to the line on port, since you know people won’t be able to call starboard on you! They won’t be able to reach you. Be smart about this though. 

  1. The race course was also extremely short — 1st race lasted 6 minutes long.... This means that we have to begin thinking about our approach to the windward mark sooner. 
  2. Questions to ask yourself: 
    1. Is it too risky to come in on the port lay line?
    2. How can I position myself on starboard lay line to pick up one or two boats?
    3. Which side of the top of the course has more pressure? What can I use to bring me across the middle (is there a big puff I can connect to? or am I in the biggest shift right now?
  3. On Sunday with the persistent left shift, you have to ask yourself how you can get over to the mark which is now over to your left (since you all paraded out on port from the starting line). Think about taking any little shift over to the other side or pressure! Find the pressure! 

  • You should know if you are going to hold on starboard after the windward mark, or if you will have to gybe onto port right around the mark. 
  • Because the course was so skewed, we needed to recognize that early gybe around the mark was KEY!!! I saw people holding on starboard for too long, then having to reach up to the mark, giving boats inside overlap, and causing our sailors to round on the outside of the pin wheel. Not good… 
  • On such a short course, you have to fight for the inside at the leeward mark. That means, protecting the boats behind you, but also recognizing that you can pick up a few boats ahead of you by “jumping" them to the zone. Work hard to get inside overlap (all you need is a bit of overlap with their rudder and you are golden). 

Second upwind:
  • Be careful tacking early around the mark if there is still a fleet of boats coming downwind. Remember that light breeze goes around the fleet (towards the edges of the race course).
  • Be patient! Many sailors got anxious on the second upwind and starting tacking too much! I saw this quite frequently between the boats in 1st and 2nd. You have to trust that you are smart. You have to try to outsmart the other boat. If they tack before the puff, and they are not getting the max pressure of the puff, just extend into the puff to reach that max pressure. 
  • When I’m in this position (battling it out with another boat regardless of which place you are in), I think — is there something that the other boat is not doing that I can do better? Are their tacks slow/bad where I can engage him in a tacking duel and beat him off of boat handling? Is he extending out to the wrong side of the race course? Is he tacking shy of the puffs and not digging into them? Or, do I have to forget about this boat and just protect my position within the rest of the fleet? 

Last downwind: 
  • With the finish line to the right of the race committee boat, that early gybe is key. Let’s recognize this before the race even starts! 
  • We still need to work on consistent windward heel on the downwinds… perhaps we just need to eat more burgers :) 

Thank you for such a great season, and for inviting me to join you all this fall. Looking forward to working with you at Midwinters! Please let me know if you have any further questions. 

-Katia DaSilva

CYC Opti Team Gets Top Results at Consecutive Regattas!

Halloween Spectacular Regatta at Lake Forest

October 29-30th was the Halloween Spectacular regatta hosted by Lake Forest. CYC had the largest Opti participation with 7 of our newest Lime sailors sailing in Green fleet and 8 of our Championship sailors competing in Red White and Blue Fleet.

Amy Kehoe coached the Green team and it was many of the sailors first regatta. The kids had a blast (all left with smiles) and did a great job!

Katia DaSilva and Julia Melton coached the Championship fleet. Peter Barnard was the 1st overall, Christian Prendergast was 5th overall, and Dina Fedulova placed 3rd in white fleet. All of our sailors improved throughout the weekend. Way to go sailors!

Lake Forest post (23).jpg

Shepherd's Regatta at Columbia Yacht Club

On November 5-6 the Opti team traveled to Monroe Harbor for the Shepherds regatta hosted by Columbia YC.

The conditions on Saturday were light, shifty and variable winds from the west. Sunday conditions were light and shifty, but slightly more consistent breeze coming from the east.

The Race Committee raced both fleets on the same course, which made it challenging to stay in clear air and avoid other boats around the course. The kids did an outstanding job-check out the results below!

Championship Fleet (R,W,B)
1st Peter Barnard
2nd Christian Predergast
4 Annie Samis
5th Parker Rasmussen
8th Deana Fedulova
9th Jack Baldwin
10th Emilia Rose
11th Avery Baldwin
12 Cali Frerker
Green Fleet
4th Charlie Dishchner
5th Spencer von Peterffy
6th Cate Baldwin
9th Grace Renz

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween Regatta Debrief -- RWB

Hi! Here are my thoughts on this past weekend's regatta. Everyone sailed exceptionally well -- even though many were upset with their end results... It seemed like a perfect weekend to practice our 'focus words,' too! 

  • We seemed to be getting mixed into the pack. To avoid this, we need to work on finding a rhythm during the set up/prestart. I personally like starting with a port approach so that I can see how the fleet is setting up. 
    • Questions to ask yourself during your approach:
      • Are people setting up early? late? on time? 
      • Quickly remind yourself -- What is the current doing? Are there waves pushing people down opening up the boat ? Will I have to accelerate earlier (in light air) or can i accelerate a bit later  (in heavy air)? But, how about waves?
      • Do I want to hold on starboard after the start (as was the case on Saturday with the lighter air and the persistent right shift) or do I have to be able to tack out onto port (as was the case on Sunday afternoon with the persistent lefty)? 
  • Starting line priorities: 1. Be front row 2. Be full speed at go 3. Be on the proper side
    • For now, we are practicing 1 and 2
  • Key points about starts: 
    • Don't be in the pack
    • When the boats around you start accelerating, you should be too -- listen for the ratchet clicks!!!
    • The most important time (I believe) of a race is right after the gun at go -- focus on your sail trim/tell tales/ boat speed to punch out. This will make your life much SO much easier

  • Too many people were sitting in dirty air off of the starting line (TIME IS MONEY!)
  • In lighter air, extend to a side. In heavy air, you can make the middle work better
  • Again, focus on boat speed for that first 30 seconds - 1 minute after go. Make it perfect...
  • There are different types of puffs (we can talk about this later). Questions to ask -- can I tack on the edge of the puff to get the shift or do I have to sail in it/dig, to get more of the shift?
  • We need to start thinking about your approach to the windward mark earlier. Anticipate the 'opti train' on the starboard lay line. Think: How can I catch one or two boats on the top 1/5 of the upwind. Can I get one of them by calling starboard on them (i.e. through a starboard/port)? 

  • Keep trying to maintain constant windward heel
    • heel = higher sail = more pressure (and less surface area in the water)
  • Before rounding the windward mark, you should know which side of the course has more pressure. That way you know whether you should hold on starboard or to gybe onto port — don’t just follow the leaders. Go towards darker water
  • Make sure you keep looking over your shoulder to see where the breeze is coming behind you! You were all tunnel vision forward, but the breeze is coming from behind you! 
  • Let's talk about S curves in breeze and how to get on a wave/surf/stay on the wave. Great attempts for pumping and surfing on Sunday though! That was really fun to see. 

  • This upwind is more about risk/fleet management. If you are in the back, and need to gain many boats take a bigger risk. How? Leverage. Going further out to the side will give you leverage. More leverage, more risk, so you can gain/lose more boats. 
    • e.g. if you bang the right corner and have good boat speed, you will either win by a mile or lose by a mile. 
  • If you want to protect your position (say you are in the top 5), K.I.S.S. — keep it SO simple. Just protect from the 'middle'. Don’t take risks banging corners. If people are gaining/catching up to you on a certain side, protect more on that side. Don't give them leverage. You become like a basketball defender -- stay in between your opponent and the 'basket' or in this case, the mark. 
  • You all can find a nice balance between taking risks and keeping it conservative. Just make sure you know what your goals are first. 
    • These goals also change throughout the course of the regatta (as they do during a race) -- do we play it more conservative Saturday morning and take bigger risks on Sunday afternoon or can we just go for it from the beginning and play it conservatively if we are ahead? This is something you can talk to us about. 

Lastly, ALWAYS say thank you to the race committee after every race. You never know when they will give you a little favor later on…

Side notes: bring more gear, food and water! Prepare for all weather while packing your bag. I always bring extra fleeces, pants, etc. just in case. No excuse to be cold, tired, or hungry :) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Shepherd Regatta Nov 5-6

RWB Opti Team,

We have practice on Wed Nov 2nd. Practice will run from 4-6pm we will review video from the regatta last weekend.

This weekend is the Shepherd Championship regatta hosted by Columbia YC!

Ø  If your boat is currently on the Opti trailer and you are not planning to sail in the regatta this weekend, please unload your boat by Thursday 9am. Let me know if you need help unloading, I will be around all week.

Ø  If you are planning to sail in the regatta this weekend, please be sure to do the following:

o   Let us know you are going by signing up for the regatta on the Opti Blog. We need a headcount to plan for the weekend, so please sign up by 9am on Thursday.

o   Please read the NOR attached for more details. Entry forms are also included in this document. You can fill out and send to or you can register at the venue on Saturday morning. The regatta fee is $10. Sailors need to provide their own lunch and bring refillable water bottles.

o   The plan is to tow the Opti trailer on Saturday morning and unload during the  designated time below. We are unable to leave our trailer there during the event so it might be easiest to come back by water on Sunday.

o   Schedule:

Saturday, Nov 5

9-9:15am Unload Opti Trailer

9am Registration Opens

9:55am Rigged and Ready

10am Skippers Meeting

10:15am Team Meetings

11am First Warning

Sunday, Nov 6th

9:55 Rigged and Ready

10am Skippers Meeting

10:15 Team Meetings

11am First Warning

Ø  We will be loading the Opti trailer for USODA Midwinters/ Orange Bowl at 4pm on November 16th (before the scheduled racing rules talk from 4:30-6pm).

Let me know if you have any questions!

Julia Melton | Sailing School Director

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lime Fleet Update

Hello Lime Fleet Families!!

Practice Sunday 10/9/16; Noon-4pm

MARATHON MAYHEM:  MARATHON CLOSURES: Lake Shore Drive will remain open all of Sunday, so everyone will be able to access the club that way. In terms of getting on to Lake Shore Drive, all parts of the course north of North Avenue will be closed starting at 7am, but open again at 11am.

Please eat before you arrive so we can get straight into the week's Sailing! Wind permitting we'll be working on starts and going around a short race course!


Fall might really arrive this weekend (high temp of 60?), sailors should come prepared with a fleece, or insulating layer (not cotton!) and windbreaker layer. Don't forget a change of clothes in the event your sailor gets wet.

SCHEDULE Sunday 10/9/16

1100 - Coaches on hand to help with rigging
1130 - Rigging Clinic - We'll concentrate on rig&sail set-up on the grass or patio (off the crowded dock to really get it right!!) - Knot tying, Boom Bridles, etc... if you have questions with rigging, be there at 11:30!! 
1200 - Rigged & Ready, 

1201 - Classroom Chalk Talk

1220 - Dockside Demonstrations, rig checks, launch

1300 - Sailing!!

1500 - Land & Derig

1530 - Debrief
1600 - Depart

Upcoming Regatta: Halloween Spectacular (Spooktacular)

  1. Again this weekend, we'll be making more recommendations as to who is ready to sail in their first Green Fleet Regatta in October (Halloween Spooktacular). Some are ready, while, despite my best efforts, others are not quite there yet!  We want everyone to have a GREAT, POSITIVE experience at their first regatta, so we'll make sure we bring those who are really ready, and really interested in going!
  2. Deadline for Registration is October 12, so all recommendations will be made by this Sunday, October 9.


1st- You MUST complete and send the attached entry form to Will Howard ( or Morgan Collins ( by October 12th to register.

2nd- Once registered for the event, you MUST sign up on the CYC Opti BlogThis enables us to plan for boat transportation.

 Reach out with any questions!
-Coach Amy

Friday, September 30, 2016

Lime Fleet Update

Hello Lime Fleet Families!!

Practice Sunday 10/2/16
All Sailors - arrive by 11:30 to get your boat down & rigged before we start at 1200!!
Please eat lunch before you arrive so we can get straight into the week's Sailing! Wind permitting we'll be working on going around a short race course!

Looks like it will be chillier this weekend (high temp of 70), sailors should come prepared with a fleece, or insulating layer (not cotton!) and windbreaker layer. Don't forget a change of clothes in the event your sailor gets wet.

SCHEDULE Sunday 10/2/16
1100 - Coaches on hand to help with rigging
1200 - Rigged & Ready,
1201 - Classroom Chalk Talk
1220 - Dockside Demonstrations, rig checks
1300 - Sailing!!
1500 - Land & Derig
1530 - Debrief
1600 - Depart

Upcoming Regatta: Halloween Spectacular (Spooktacular)
  1. Starting this weekend, we'll be making recommendations to parents as to who is ready to sail in their first Green Fleet Regatta in October (Halloween Spooktacular). Some are ready, while, despite my best efforts, others are not quite there yet!  We want everyone to have a GREAT, POSITIVE experience at their first regatta, so we'll make sure we bring those who are really ready.
  2. Deadline for Registration is October 12, so all recommendations will be made by Sunday, October 9.


1st- You MUST complete and send the attached entry form to Will Howard ( or Morgan Collins ( by October 12th to register.
2nd- Once registered for the event, you MUST sign up on the CYC Opti Blog.  This enables us to plan for boat transportation.

Reach out with any questions!

-Coach Amy

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Opti Team,

I hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day! This weekend we are headed to USODA Midwest Championship in Pewaukee! Tomorrow (9/7) we will be loading boats after practice at 6pm. Parents please arrive at this time to help us load.

Schedule for the weekend:

Friday Sept 9th

1pm Opti Trailer arrives in Pewaukee

3-5pm Opti Practice at Pewaukee

5-6pm Competitor and Coach Check-in

Saturday Sept 10th

7:30-8:30am Competitor and Coach Check-in / Continental breakfast

8:30am Rigged and Ready

8:45am Coaches Meeting

9am Competitor, coaches, and Parents Meeting-Mandatory

10:30 First Warning -Championship Fleet

Lunch on the water

After Racing Competitor Dinner

Sunday Sept 11th

7:30-8:30am Continental Breakfast

8am Rigged and Ready

8:15 Coaches Meeting

8:30 Competitors, Coaches and Parents Meeting—Mandatory

9:30am First Warning—Championship Fleet

Lunch on the water

After Racing Awards Ceremony

Please read over the NOR before the weekend. Also, do not forget to pack sailing gear, a WATCH, plenty of water, healthy snacks, and sun protection.

Friday, September 2, 2016

2016 Opti Fall Season Meeting Notes

2016 Opti Fall Season Meeting Notes

Thank you everyone who attended our parent meeting on Wednesday! We went over a lot of information so below is an outline of everything that we covered. 


Our primary way of communication will be through the Chicago YC Opti Blog. If you are not already subscribed, enter your e-mail address in the "Follow by E-Mail" box (top right) to get posts e-mailed to you. Also use this blog as a reference for calendar updates, regatta signups and debriefs. If you have trouble subscribing, please let me know.


Practices will start this weekend for all fleets! Practices are held at the Sailing School located at Belmont Harbor, 300 W Belmont Avenue. 

Please note we have added additional practice hours for for Green Fleet on Saturday. If this does not work with your schedule please let me know. 

Championship Fleet (RWB)- Wednesday 4-7pm / Saturday 9am-4pm / Sunday 9am-4pm
Green Fleet- Wednesday 4-7pm / Saturday 9am-4pm / Sunday 9am-4pm
Lime Fleet- Sunday 12-4pm

Sailors should arrive early enough to be rigged and ready by the start of practice. 

Lime Fleet should arrive at 11am on Sunday. On the first day we will assigning charter boats. Lime parents should plan on being there to help take their child's assigned boat off the rack and then arrive around 3:30 to help put boats back on the rack. Sailing is not a drop off sport. 

Please let us know ahead of time if a sailor is going to be late or not going to be attending practice. 


Please refer to the Calendar tab on the Blog under the calendar page. This calendar includes practice schedule, deadlines, meetings, etc.

Charter boats

Those who are chartering a boat must fill out the charter agreement. Please bring $100 check on Sunday with this form if you are chartering a boat. If you are a member we can bill your account. Coach Amy will be there to collect your charter agreement and checks when you arrive. 

Sailors chartering a boat will find a boat assignment sheet posted in the cubby room. These will be there boat assignments for the entire season.


You can find the Fall Regatta Schedule for the season here. Regattas are designated for Green and Championship Fleet. 

On this calendar you will find the early registration deadlines in the right column. Registering by the early deadline will save you money! 

After you register for the event you must also sign up for the regatta on our signup sheet on the Blog. You can find signup sheets under the Regatta & Clinics tab on the Opti Blog.  Please look at your calendars this weekend. We ask that you sign up on the Blog for all regattas you plan to participate in no later than Monday September 5th.

Please note that when there is a scheduled regatta there will be no CYC practice. 

Lime fleet is scheduled to participate in one regatta this season. Halloween Spectacular is hosted by Lake Forest on October 29-30. This will be a very fun event and a great first regatta for these sailors. We encourage all lime fleet sailors to participate in this regatta. There will be no Lime fleet practice on the 30th during this regatta. There will be Lime fleet practices on Sept 4,11, 18, 25, Oct 2,9,16, 23, and Nov 6. You can find the sign up sheet for Halloween Spectacular regatta here on the Blog. 

We will be sending information about the travel logistics for each event prior to the regatta. Usually this weekend goes out a week before the event. 

Additional Information

The Opti Survival Guide is a useful document for new Opti parents. If you didn't pick up at the meeting you can get one at practice.

Evaluation checklists are what we will be using to assess when a sailor is ready to move to the next fleet. Coaches will be completing these throughout the season and will hand out to sailors at the end of the season. These will serve as progress reports for sailors to understand exactly what areas they need to work on.

What to Bring to Practice

Please note that many of these items are optional but highly recommended. In our meeting we discussed scheduling a gear swap day so you may not need to purchase some of these items. 

Write you name on everything!
  • Gear bag to keep everything in
  • personal floatation device (PFD) type 3 with whistle
  • bathing suit (for under clothing)
  • towel
  • watch w/ timer setting to count down
  • re-usable water bottle
  • hat / beanie for colder days
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • rash guard
  • spray top, spray pants (wind and water proof)
  • change of clothes
  • gloves 
  • sailing booties/ neoprene socks 
  • fleece layers
  • wetsuit (shortie or long john)
  • running shoes (Green + RWB)
  • notebook (Green + RWB)

All of the documents on this page can be found on the Program Documents Page located on the Opti Blog. We look forward to a great fall season of sailing! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Julia Melton
Sailing School Director