Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Accommodations for Upcoming Regattas

CYC Green Team,

USODA Midwest Championship at Tawas Bay Yacht Club. Team Picture: CYC RWB and Green Sailors.

We had a blast at the USODA Midwest regatta last weekend! Many of you are discussing plans for the next two upcoming regattas, which is awesome! I’ve had a couple questions about hotel accommodations. You are welcome to stay wherever you would like, but below is where I’ve booked rooms for the coaches.

  1. US Junior Olympics regatta @ Macatawa Bay Yacht Club October 7-8th. There are 20 rooms left at the Quality Inn and several other hotel options in the Holland area. I did not reserve a room block, but if you would like to stay at the Quality Inn , it’s about 12 mins away from MBYC. There will be no practice on Friday. The drive is about 3 hours so you may want to arrive Friday evening if you’re not a morning person.
Quality Inn:
422 E. 32nd St.
Holland, MI, 49423
Front Desk:(616) 392-1000

  1. Halloween Spectacular @ Lake Geneva Yacht Club, October 28-29th. Please see the Notice of Race (NOR) attached. The NOR has a few hotel recommendations.  I booked a room for the coaches at the Fontana Village Inn about 8-12 mins away from the Club. There will be no Friday practice so if you are up for making the 2 hour drive on Saturday morning, then you only need to book for one night.

Fontana Village Inn: 

I will send out a detailed regatta schedule a week prior to each event. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions. I’m thrilled with the amount of enthusiasm and participation that we have for these upcoming events!

Thank you,

Julia Melton | Sailing School Director

Saturday, September 9, 2017

USODA Midwest Regatta Logistics

Opti Team,

Next weekend is USODA Midwest Championship at Tawas Bay Yacht Club! Amy will be coaching Green Fleet and I will be coaching RWB for this regatta.

Please come help load your boats on Wednesday Sept 13 at 5:15pm. If you are unable to load your boat at that time then you have two options:


  1. Ask another family to load your boat for you. IT IS NOT THE COACHES RESPONSIBILITY TO LOAD YOUR BOAT.

I will be arriving to Tawas Bay Thursday night with the trailer of boats practicing on Friday and Amy will be arriving late on Friday night with the 6 boat trailer.

Weekend Schedule:

Friday, September 15
9am-12pm CYC Green Fleet Practice
12-4pm CYC RWB practice
3-6pm Check-In: Competitors & Coach/Support Boat Flags
6:30pm Welcome Reception

Saturday, September 16
*Arrive to Club as early as needed to be rigged and ready at 8:25am.
7:30-8:30am Check-In: Competitors & Coach/Support Boat Flags Continental Breakfast
8:25am  Rigged and Ready
8:30am CYC Team Meetings
8:45am Coaches Meeting
9:00am Competitors, Coaches and Parents Meeting (Mandatory)
*CYC Team Meetings again after Competitors Meeting.
9:30am Harbor Start
1030 First Warning – Championship Fleet Lunch on the water
After Racing Competitors Dinner

Sunday, September 17
*Arrive to Club as early as needed to be rigged and ready at 7:40am.
7:00-8:30am Breakfast
7:40am Rigged and Ready
7:45am CYC Team Meetings
8:00am Coaches Meeting
8:30am Harbor Start
9:30am First Warning – Championship Fleet Lunch on the water
1430 No first warning signal after this time
After Racing Awards Ceremony

Be sure to read the Notice of Race before arriving to the event. Also, please sign up to bring heathy snacks for the kids to share on the coach boats. We will have jugs of water on our coach boats so pack a refillable water bottle that your sailor can clip on to the boat.

Essential items to bring:
-sailing gear: booties, spray gear, gloves, layers (fleece, wetsuit, spandex, etc.)
-refillable water bottle
-healthy snacks
-sunblock, hat, sunglasses
-race team pinny
-notebook to take notes
-binoculars (for parents on land)

We are looking forward to a fun event! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

LINE HONORS is offering all student sailors 25% off

LINE HONORS is offering all student sailors 25% off all GILL, ZHIK & ROOSTER products through September 30, 2017. 

Use coupon code - "STUDENT17"

Please note...special ends on 9/30/17

Bob Hillier | Owner

"From an Inland lake to the Southern Ocean, we have the sailing gear for you"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Need Housing for USNT Sailors Sept 1-4

Chicago Yacht Club has agreed to host a practice weekend for the US Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) National and Development teams. The purpose of the US National Team and Development Team is to improve the level of Optimist sailing in the United States by providing high level training to top US Optimist sailors who compete internationally.

The US Optimist National and Development teams meet regularly during the year to train as a team in a variety of conditions, and to receive coaching offered by top Optimist coaches from around the US. 

Team members travel solo without parents to practice weekends.

The practice weekend at Chicago YC is September 1- 4, 2017. 

This practice is an opportunity for Chicago YC to showcase our facilities and our growing Optimist dinghy program. Our Optimist race team has one member on the US Development team and, in the last few years, several sailors have qualified for the USNT/DT selection regatta. 

The USODA asks the host club to provide housing for the team’s sailors as a way for the visiting sailors to meet new people, hone their independence skills, and provide inspiration for young sailors.

We looking for host families to provide housing and transportation, details are below. Host family time commitment is at the beginning and end of each day. The “SCHEDULE” section below there is an outline of the weekend with the host family responsibilities in bold.

Practice Weekend Schedule:
Friday, Sept 1
  • 3pm – 5pm: scheduled flight arrival at O’Hare and Midway , meet parent chaperones and host club drivers for drive to Chicago YC (looking for volunteers)
  • 5-8pm – sailors at Chicago YC for welcome dinner
  • 8pm – host family pick up

Saturday, Sept 2, and Sunday, Sept 3
  • 7:30 am: sailors arrive at Chicago YC
  • 7:30 am: breakfast at Chicago YC
  • 8am – 7pm: team activities
  • 7pm: sailor pick up
  • 9pm: lights out

Monday, Sept 4
  • 7:30 am: sailors arrive at Chicago YC
  • 7:30 am: breakfast at Chicago YC
  • 8am – 4pm: team activities
  • 5-7pm sailors to O’Hare and Midway with host club drivers, meet parent chaperones for escort flights
Details on Host Family Duties
Housing – 
  • It is ideal for the sailors to have at least one other teammate at a host family house. This helps with team building for the sailors and helps to keep the number of host families to a minimum. We ask that you host 2-3 sailors if possible but will be happy to have host families that can host 1 sailor.
  • Sailors of the same sex can share a bed or air mattresses. Sailors can sleep on a couch.
  • Sailors do not need their own room(s)

Meals - 
Main meals are provided by the USNT/DT at Chicago YC. Snacks are nice but not expected.

Laundry - 
USNT/DT members do not expect laundry during their practice session. They will pack enough clothing for the practice.

Transportation – 
  • Sept 1 between 3 and 5pm – this is arrival day at O’Hare and Midway. The parent coordinators is working on easy ways to transport the sailors to and from the airports to minimize the need for every host family to go to O’Hare and Midway, volunteers for this duty are appreciated.
  • See the “Schedule” for estimated times at the beginning and end of the practice days for transportation needs

If you are able to assist with providing housing and transportation as a host family, please contact Kathy Barnard at to finalize the details.

Announcement of the assignment of USNT/DT team members and host families will be made around August 29th.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Green Fleet Sailors Compete at North Shore Cup

North Shore Cup Write Up
 By Coach Abigail McFadyen

Green fleet sailors having fun waiting for the wind!

Just a few miles up the shores of Lake Michigan, 9 CYC green fleet sailors went to compete in Lake Forest for the North Shore Cup on July 21. An AP flag (postponement) was raised at the start of the day and it was not until 11:30 that the first race got off. The sailors conquered the windward-leeward course that they so often sail around at practice. Unfortunately, only one full race was run due to declining wind. But as the racing rules of sailing state, even just one race constitutes a regatta. Notable finishes include: Grace Renz in 2nd, Cal Kinnear in 4th, Spencer Von Peterffy in 6th, and Tyler Crabb in 8th. Congrats to all 9 sailors for a job well done!

Cal Kinnear rounds the windward mark ahead of the fleet.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 Fall Opti Program


The summer will be over before we know it and so it’s time to start thinking about the fall! This email has important information you need to know to start planning for the season.  This fall we are offering three Opti fleets: Lime, Green and RWB. Fleet descriptions are below, please let me know if you are unsure as to which fleet to sign your sailor up for. Additionally, please mark your calendars for our preseason parents meeting on Wednesday, August 30th at 6pm.

2017 Fall Lime Fleet
Lime Fleet is designated for beginner sailors fresh out of our summer learn to sail programs. The emphasis is on basic seamanship, rigging, steering, sail control, balance, boat handling, safety, learning, and fun! Through classroom and on-the-water activities, students are introduced to water safety, boat controls, basic sailing maneuvers, basic seamanship, wind direction, sailing a course, navigation and marine ecology.  Lime Fleet sailors are between 7 and 10 years old. Ultimately the goal for students of Lime Fleet is to build self-reliance and confidence through sailing an Optimist without another student, or Instructor in the boat. Sailing alone demonstrates the proficiency we intend for every sailor. Prerequisite: Sailors have completed summer sailing Levels 2, 3 or recommended by their coach. Sailors should have an interest in sailing and are able to sail their own boat.

Sundays, 12-4pm

Sept 10,17,24
Oct 1,8,15,22,29
Nov 5,12,19 (practice will be weather dependent)

2017 Fall Green Fleet
Green Fleet is a beginner and intermediate level Optimist racing program, designed to build on the basic sailing and racing skills. Green Fleet sailors are typically between 8-12 years old. Green fleet sailors are strongly encouraged to purchase their own Optimist or they can charter a Club Opti in the fall. The curriculum focuses on improving sailors' boat handling, racing skills and rules knowledge.  Green Fleet sailors learn more about small boat racing, including tactics and race courses. Sportsmanship, care of and responsibility for equipment is emphasized in all activities. The Green Fleet sailors are strongly encouraged to travel to both local and national regattas. Regattas help create personal connections and relationships with other young sailors from different Clubs. Prerequisites: Sailors have sailed in at least one season of Lime fleet, sailed in a regatta or have shown advancement in boat-handling, seamanship, and general knowledge.

Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm
(unless there is a *scheduled regatta)

Sept 9-10
Sept 16-17 *USODA Midwest Championship
Sept 23-24
Sept 30-Oct1
Oct 7-8 *Junior Olympic Sailing Festival Michigan Championship
Oct 14-15
Oct 21-22
Oct 28-29 *Halloween Spectacular
Nov 4-5
Nov 11-12
Nov 18-19 (practice will be weather dependent)

Dec 26-30 *Orange Bowl Regatta (Important note: Orange Bowl registration opens on Sept 11 at 8am and fills up fast!)
Feb 2-4 * Valentine’s Day Regatta
March 2-4 *Sunshine State Championship
March 9-11 *Gulf Coast Championship

2017 Fall RWB Fleet
The Red, White and Blue (RWB) Fleet is for intermediate to advanced Opti sailors who are ready to compete at the highest level and are under 15 years of age. The Opti RWB Team competes in many local events, but also prepares sailors for national and international Optimist events. RWB focuses on advanced boat-handling, strategy, conditioning and tactics.  The sailors become exposed to a strong team atmosphere, learning both fleet racing and team racing skills. Prerequisites: Sailors have advanced past the Green fleet curriculum and own their own Optimist.

Wednesdays 4-7pm
Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-4pm
(unless there is a *scheduled regatta)

Sept 6
Sept 9-10
Sept 13
Sept 16-17 *USODA Midwest Championship
Sept 20
Sept 23-24
Sept 27
Sept 30-Oct1
Oct 4
Oct 6-9 *USODA SE Championship
Oct 11
Oct 14-15
Oct 18
Oct 21-22
Oct 25
Oct 28-29 *Halloween Spectacular
Nov 1
Nov 4-5
Nov 8
Nov 11-12
Nov 15
Nov 18-19 (practice will be weather dependent)
Nov 24-26 *USODA Midwinter Championship

Dec 26-30 *Orange Bowl Regatta (Important note: Orange Bowl registration opens on Sept 11 at 8am and fills up fast!)
Jan 12-15 *USODA Team Race Midwinter Championship
Jan TBD *Mexico Heavy Wind Clinic w/ Coach Hector
Feb 2-4 * Valentine’s Day Regatta
March 2-4 *Sunshine State Championship
March 9-11 *Gulf Coast Championship


Parent Meeting
We will have a Opti parents meeting on August 30th at 6pm to go over our season calendar and other information you need to know for the fall.

Opti Blog
Please subscribe to the CYC Opti Blog! The Blog is used for team communication. If you are not already subscribed, enter your email address in the “Follow by E-Mail” box (top right) to get posts e-mailed to you. On the Blog you can find our Google Calendar, the regatta schedules and regatta signup sheets. I will be showing how to use the blog at our parents meeting.

Green and RWB sailors are expected to attend as many of our supported regattas as possible. Sailing in regattas is an important part of the learning process, engenders team unity, and is one of the most fun aspects of junior sailing. To register for regattas, you need to sign up on the Blog in addition to registering for the event. Mark your calendars: Orange Bowl registration opens at 8am on September 11th and fills up in the first 30 minutes after opening.

Series Racing
This fall we are introducing series racing! There will be 3 series races held during practices in the fall. Parents are encouraged to watch on the sea wall or help out with Race Committee if you have a powerboat.  Series racing for  RWB and Green fleet will be scored separately. The overall results from the 3 race days will be determined and trophies will be awarded to the top three boats in each fleet at the fall banquet on November 29th. Fall Series races are scheduled for October 1st, October 15th, and November 5th.


If your child wants to continue with Green Fleet, it is highly recommended that you purchase an Opti. Places you can find Optis for sale:  (and sign up your child as a member), Sturgis Boat Works and McLaughlin has used charter boats. Look online and please send us information on the boat before buying.

Lime fleet and green fleet sailors who do not own an Opti can charter one from the Yacht Club. Sailors that wish to charter will be assigned their own hull, sail/spars, and blade. On the first day of practice, these assignments are given along with a charter agreement form that the sailor and parent must sign. The charter fee is $100 for the fall season. Sailors must report any damage or repairs needed to their coach immediately and these will be fixed or replaced.

Sailors will need additional warmer sailing gear for the fall.

  • warm base layers made for sailing (hydrophobic material)
  • Long sleeve tech shirts and clothes that can get wet
  • Closed toed shoes or dinghy boots
  • Fleece hat
  • Spray top
  • Spray pants
  • Gloves
  • Dry suit (recommended for the fall, required for the spring)
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, rash guard)
  • Coast Guard Type III approved Life Jacket.
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Towel and a change of clothes
  • Gear bag

Be sure to put your child’s name on everything! Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m looking forward to a fantastic fall season!

Julia Melton

Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017 USODA Team Trials Debrief

2017 USODA Team Trials
By Julia Melton
Peter Barnard, Julia Melton, Christian Predergast, Jack Baldwin

I’m proud to have coached three talented sailors from Chicago Yacht Club at the 2017 USODA Team Trials hosted by Brant Beach Yacht Club.  This regatta is the most important USODA event of the year. Each year all sailors must earn a spot for team trials at a qualifying event. This year, 223 sailors from around the country traveled to the coast of New Jersey to compete against the top sailors in the United States.  

Each sailor set personal goals for the regatta, from making the US development team to simply developing individual skills. The regatta concluded with every sailor having achieved or exceeded their individual goals. This event is undoubtedly one of the greatest experiences for kids to compete amongst the top Opti sailors as well as make new and lifelong friends on and off the water. 

Results: In the finals, Peter Barnard placed 56th overall in Gold fleet and qualified for the USODA National Development Team. In Silver fleet, Jack Baldwin placed 58th and Christian Prendergast placed 70th out of the 148 boats.

The team practiced in the days leading up to the four-day regatta and experienced a wide range of conditions.  There were many things to take away from this regatta.

Body placement and technique had a huge influence on boat speed. Upwind, it was equally important to keep the boat flat windward to leeward as well as from bow to stern. In choppy conditions, sailors needed to sit slightly further aft to prevent the bow from taking on waves.

Downwind, the goal was to keep the boat planing on a wave. I noticed that many Opti sailors were conservative and sat too far back which prevented the boat from planning. The stern is the widest part of the Optimist; by sitting further forward downwind, the sailor is reducing the submerged area and drag of the stern, allowing the boat to stay on a wave. Surfing the wave meant riding the trough of the wave, coming up on the wave when you lost speed and riding down the wave in the puffs.

The current was another factor that needed to be considered daily.  For example, on the last day high tide was at 1:15pm so the current on the course was not only moving from left to right near the channel, but also down the course towards the shore. This meant sailors could be more aggressive at the start because the current was pushing them below the line. Additionally, having good course awareness was crucial in current. For instance, on the reach leg sailors needed to sail a higher angle to make the mark and compensate for the current sweeping them downwind away from the mark. It is always wise for a competitor to research tides, current direction, and depths before competing at a new venue. The location of where the course is set in relation to channels and depth will determine how the boat will be influenced by the current around the course.  

Something the sailors really focused on during this event was mental preparation. We utilized positive affirmations and visualization exercises to stay relaxed. When a sailor is dealing with high pressure situations in an important regatta, it is important to stay positive and neutral-not getting too high or low after race. The ability to bounce back from success or failure is critical to an athlete’s success on and off the water.   

A big thanks to the Opti parents for their help in planning logistics and for their on-shore support and assistance. Without your dedication, events like this would not be possible.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Goals for Opti Team

Dear Opti parents and sailors, 

I hope you all had a great Easter! I apologize in advance for my lengthy email…  Please read when you have a chance so that we can work together in making this Opti season as successful as possible. 

I have seen huge improvements from each and every sailor. They are all eager, ask questions, and want to better themselves on the water (and during workouts!).  I would be more than happy to go through individually what was accomplished this fall/spring and what we should work on, but I wanted to share a few updates regarding our team’s goals. 

  1. We will aim to gain a more positive sense of self. No more negative talk!! Julia and I have talked to the sailors about rephrasing our sentences in a more positive light.  Although our minds are brilliant and amazing, they can be easily tricked.  When we say to ourselves before a windy race, ‘don’t flip,’ the last thing our mind remembers is ‘ flip, flip, flip.’ When we change this to ‘keep the boat dry and hike hard,’ our mind remembers factors that are in our control, and this will ultimately push us to be and sail better.  Also, there have been many research studies that have shown the psychological benefits of repeating a positive mantra, such as “I can do this!”  In our classroom and on the water, I want the sailors to focus on being more positive about situations, each other, and themselves. They are all growing exponentially — physically, emotionally, and mentally, — and I want them to feel empowered to do and be better at the end of the season. 
  2. Gain independence — One thing that I have noticed with our sailors is that they are really dependent on the coach and their parents. I understand that they are still young, but they are more mature than we give them credit for.  I mean, they are out on the water sailing a boat by themselves! They are able to multi-task and think about their position on the race course, how to make their boat go fast, where their body should be, planning ahead for their approach to the mark, all the while, avoiding other boats! That’s amazing!! However, I want their independence to grow a bit more when they are on land. I want them to try to launch their boat themselves, try to get a knot out of their bowline by themselves, figure out why their sail is too high, get their dry suits on by themselves, and take ownership of themselves and their boats. I notice that before they even try to do something, they ask for my help. When I ask them if they have at least attempted to do xyz, they say no. Our new rule at practice is to first try, then try again, and if you still need help, I will be right there.  I hope that they do not see me as the ‘mean/lazy coach,’ but the coach that believes that they can do anything. I truly believe that when people feel empowered by others habitually, they will start internalizing that feeling and will begin to empower themselves. 
  3. Foster a better sense of teamwork. As I said earlier, our sailors are asking for help before they even try, but only from me! With that being said, there are tasks (such as flipping your boat or putting your boat on the rack) that requires at least two people. I want the kids to learn about teamwork! Instead of me running from the opti dock to the pad to the grassy area to help each sailor flip their boat, I want to see more camaraderie. I want to hear more “Can you help me flip my boat? I can help you roll your sail!”  Again, it is not that I do not want to help the sailors flip their boats, but I think that teamwork helps foster a healthier sense of community. The environment switches from competitive to collaborative, allowing the sailors to feel like they can be themselves, ask questions, and learn from each other. 
  4. Lastly, the people that you grow up sailing Optis against are the people that you’ll sail against in high school, and then again in college, and for the rest of your life! So, let’s try to foster friendships from a young age :)

I plan on going over these goals with the sailors on Wednesday and/or this weekend, so please let me know if you have any questions/concerns/comments regarding these thoughts before then. 

With all of that being said, I absolutely LOVE to coach all of these sailors. I have seen huge strides made by each sailor, and most importantly, it seems like they are all still having fun!! 

Happy Tuesday! 


Katia DaSilva

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lime Fleet Parent Meeting Notes

Lime Fleet Opti Parents,

We had a constructive Parents Meeting yesterday. I know some of you were unable to attend the meeting, so below is an outline of some of the information that was covered.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

  • Sailing gear required for the spring
  • Spring lime fleet
    • practice schedule: Friday 4-7pm & Sunday 12-5pm: May 7-28. *There will be no practice on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 14th, we will be adding an additional practice on Sunday, June 4th to make up for this cancelation.
    • Spring Coaches: Amy Kehoe, Julia Melton, and Claudia Isbell.

  • Summer green fleet
    • can my child participate in green fleet?
      • Yes!!! Green fleet is intended for sailors who have participated in at least one season of Lime fleet. You have the option to register for a half summer or full summer. This is an excellent way for sailors to improve their skills with full day practices and attending regattas. The summer is also a great time to make new friends and have fun on the water.
    • practice schedule
      • M-F, 8:30am-3:30pm. No CYC practices during a scheduled regatta or regatta travel days.
      • Half Summer: June 19-July 14 (1stHalf)  / July 10-August 4th (2nd Half)
    • regatta schedule

  • Please note that on May 1st summer registration fees will increase by $200.00. You can register here.

  • Opti Blog
    • Please subscribe to the CYC Opti blog by inserting your email address in the top right box.
    • Calendar- Find our season calendar under the calendar tab. Refer to this Google calendar for changes to our practice schedule, regattas, and registration deadlines.
    • Regatta signup sheets can be found under the regatta & clinics tab.
      • You must sign up on the regatta signup for each event to reserve a spot for your boat on the trailer  
      • You will need to register to become a member for as well as for US Sailing

Please save the date for our next parent meeting on June 7th at 6pm!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

April 1-2 Opti Spring Practices Start

Opti Race Team,

We will start spring practices next weekend, April 1-2! Katia will be coaching the team on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-4pm. Sailors should be rigged and ready by 9:30am. Wednesday practices will begin on April 5th 4-7pm.

We will have morning workouts on Saturday and Sunday, so pack accordingly. Workouts will start promptly at 9:30am. We will be doing be a fitness test in the beginning/half way/end of the season to have the kids set some goals and stay motivated/active. Exercises will include 1. Max pushups in 1 minute 2. Max Sit-ups in 1 minute 3. As a team we will increase our time for Wall sits.  

Please take all Optis off the trailer. After practice, Opti hulls can be stored on the rack on the floating dock in any of the open spots. Opti dollies should be stacked neatly together in the pad (no dollies should be left on floating dock or in the patio area).

Be sure to bring the following to practice:

-dry suits are mandatory. If you do not have a dry suit, do not plan on sailing.

-warm sailing gear: layers, long underwear, fleece, neck warmer, winter wool or fleece hat, rubber gloves or dish gloves to wear over your regular gloves.


-refillable water bottle

-Sun protection: sunblock, hat with visor, sunglasses

-tennis shoes & workout clothes (only on Saturday and Sunday)


- Opti equipment you will need that was brought home over the winter

We are excited for the team to get back on the water this spring! I am away doing some personal sailing this week. I will be able to check email during the week, so please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 Sunshine State Championship Debrief

2017 Sunshine State Championship

On March 3-5th, 7 CYC team Optimist sailors traveled to Jensen Beach, Florida to participate in the 2017 Sunshine State Championship hosted by US Sailing Center Martin County. The regatta is the biggest tune up before Team Trials for the teams in the south-east, and the regatta was also a qualifier for Caribbean teams and attracted lots of international talent. Thus, there was fierce competition amongst 227 boats, and it was a great experience to be a part of! Jack Baldwin led CYC placing 30th overall.
Jack Baldwin

Peter Barnard

Despite the sunny name, the regatta occurred on the second day of a massive cold front coming through that part of Florida. A total of 6 races were sailed, 4 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. The conditions were extremely windy on Sunday - in the upper teens to low twenty's. Saturday was slightly less but still pretty spotty!  Many sailors were intimidated by the conditions; I am happy to say that our sailors all went out every day and showed determination throughout the event. Attitude was an important factor in order to survive a long day in breeze and I felt that the sailors grew in their confidence sailing in breeze by the end of the regatta.

Annie Samis, hydrating in between races.

In windy conditions, swamping and capsizes can cost you in a race, and minimizing them is a skill. One of the things we taught the kids was that they have the ability to keep their boats upright if they maintain control by having good boat handling. This means hiking out and letting out your sail when you bear away, and playing the daggerboard through maneuvers. It means being able to sail while you bail on all three legs of the race course. The effect of water in your boat is to make it float lower, and to pitch more, which in turn ships even more water onboard! Bail as soon as there is an inch of water in your boat. Upwind, ease the mainsheet very slightly and put it in your tiller extension hand, then hike to heel the boat to windward, and reach your free front hand in for scoops with the bailer. Keep your eyes up on the waves and telltales and rely on the sound of the bailer scraping on the bottom of the boat.
Cali Frerker rigging her sail

Morning Rigging! Madeline Torrey, Katia DaSilva, Peter Barnard

Rigging and tuning are also really important to get right in heavy air:

  • Make sure your sail ties are tied correctly and knots are tight. Sail ties tend to stretch more in bigger breeze so making sure each sail tie knot is tighten goes a long way. Tight luff ties make for a flatter sail.

  • The top ties should be tightened so that there is no space between the sail and the mast. A good trick is to overlap the sail on the mast, then crank your horizontal tie.

  • The line on the sail should be in the center of the two lines on the mast. Higher or lower are both bad - messes with luff tension, sail too high or boom too low (dangerous).

  • Once you sail is fine-tuned and all corner ties are tight, you should present your major controls.

  • Make sure the outhaul is on, then proceed to the vang.

  • Before you put vang on, make sure you boom preventer line is on the hook (super important with new race sails).The preventer adjusts the tension on the luff of the sail, and needs different numbers of twists based on length and how you did your top corner ties, but in general we want FEWER TWISTS in heavy air and MORE TWISTS in light air. Ideally everything should be set up so you have 1 twist in heavy air and a pretty tight luff - the front edge of the sail 'snaps' if you pluck it.

  • Tension in the following order - VANG THEN SPRIT.

  • You want to put on some vang on land- bigger more experienced sailors can adjust on the water, but lighter newer ones need the help of the coach to tighten their vang on the water. Clip the mainsheet to the boom, trim in the sail to centerline, and take out all the slack on the vang. When you release the mainsheet, you will notice that you vang is significantly tighter. How far from the transom you trim the end of the boom is a good measure of how much vang. We go anywhere from 4 inches off in medium - heavy air to 1 in survival conditions.

  • Many of our sailors learned the benefits of switching from a 3 to 1 to a 4 to 1 mainsheet. Having the extra block makes it easier for sailors to trim in their sail.

  • Hiking hard the entire upwind, but hiking especially hard the first third of the upwind. This is because if your boat is not flat, then you are not making gains upwind, but rather side slipping.

  • On the run downwind you need to move you weight aft only when needed and move further forward in the lulls.

  • On the run downwind you never want to ease you sail past 90 degrees to the boat. This will cause the boat to flip or nose dive.

  • The reaches were in flatter water than most of the beats thanks to the close windward barrier island. Keeping the bow up was important as was hiking and aggressive body movements to get planning in the puffs. In general, you should try to heel to windward on the reach, and move forward in the lulls, back in the puffs as you would downwind. While having the high lane is almost always good in Optis, if you can work down in the puffs once speed is achieved, and up immediately in the lulls, you gain!

  • As always, but especially in bigger wind and fleets, having a good start was key. If you had a good start on the favored side and could hit the first shift you would extend your lead right away.

  • In general, there were more shifts on the top of the course because of the land windward to the course.
Peter Barnard, Julia Melton, Annie Samis, Katia DaSilva, Madeline Torrey, Deana Fedulova

Thank you to All-American Katia DaSilva for coaching the Chicago group with me, and to all the sailors and parents for making this happen!

Julia Melton