1. Preparing for your First Opti green fleet regatta
If your child is sailing in our Intermediate or Optimist 1 programs, he or she may be interested in participating in Green Fleet regattas. The following information is intended for families who haven't attended junior regattas before.
Opti green fleet was created to give younger sailors experience of regattas in a safe, supportive environment. Once you are comfortable in green fleet, you can move on to Championship fleet., where the courses are longer, the standard is higher, and sailors are expected to be more independent.
Typical first regattas for Pleon sailors include Marblehead Junior Race Week (run by Pleon, in late July), Hingham Junior Regatta (in mid July), Manchester Green Fleet regatta (mid July), Linda Weiditz regatta (in Rockport, timing varies) or Junior Olympics (early August, location varies). Usually your child's coach or another parent will suggest that your child participates. If you are interested, make sure the program director knows.
Regatta sign-up is almost always on line now. You have to register in order to be able to race. Registration is likely to require a sail number and health insurance information, as well as general information about the child and boat. It is your responsibility to register your child, not Pleon's. Check with the Commodore or Program Director if you can't find the information you need.
You might need to sign up for Mass Bay Sailing or US Sailing in order for your child to compete. If you have a family membership then your child should already be covered. Otherwise sign up through http://www.massbaysailing.org/ or http://ussailing.org/
2. At the regatta
You need to bring your own boat to regattas! If you don't own an Opti, check with the program director about availability of boats to charter from Pleon. You are also responsible for getting the boat to the regatta, even if it is one owned by Pleon. You will also need a dolly for launching.
When you arrive at the regatta site, first find out where to store boats and drop yours off. There will be plenty of people around to help you. It's fun to put your boat with a bunch of other Pleon sailors. If boats are stored on a beach, make sure you are above the high water mark. Next, even though you have already registered, your child should check in. When you check in, make sure that your name, club, contact information and sail number are accurate. You will be given a packet of information and maybe a t-shirt too! Read the information in the packet carefully. It will include sailing instructions - these are the rules for the regatta. It may also include information about the regatta schedule, parties, food, special parking restrictions, and other things you need to know. You will probably receive a colored streamer to attach to your sprit; this is so people can tell which class you are in.
The regatta will start with a skippers meeting, and a harbor start time. Check whether your child should rig his/her boat before the skippers meeting or if there will be time afterwards. If you can't find something you need, never borrow anything from another boat or club without asking first. Once your child is rigged, or if you have any trouble, ask your coach to check the boat. It's important for all sailors to attend the skippers meeting and listen carefully. Harbor Start means that a sound signal is made, and then you can launch your boat and sail out to the race course. Greenies usually wait until everyone else has launched before they go out. Make sure you go to the Green Fleet race course and not to the Championship fleet!
When your child comes in from racing, make sure they pull their boat out of the way promptly - there may be bigger kids behind trying to get their boats out. Put your boat away carefully, making sure everything is stored in a safe place and ready for racing tomorrow. Then go and check for results on the regatta notice board!
Your first Opti green fleet regatta is a big step to take! Going to regattas can be a lot of fun - you will have a chance to practice your sailing skills, perhaps sail in new places, and meet new people. If you sail in events such as the Junior Olympics, you are part of a nationwide series - you may see kids in the same regatta t-shirt as you all over the country!
3. Getting there
If you have a big car, you might be able to get an opti inside; otherwise you will need roof-racks with pads. Pleon has an Opti trailer that takes 6 boats and their rigs and dollies. This is usually reserved for Race Team but may occasionally have space for others. Never load an opti onto the Opti trailer unless you have confirmed with Erin and the race team parent that you have a spot. If you are using the Opti trailer or car-topping your boat, you will need 2 tie-down straps, for the front and back of the boat. The type that can be tightened are the best. Don't forget your sail, mast, boom, sprit, dagger board and rudder, cover and burgee. Optis are notorious for losing the little bits of line that hold the sail on - it's a big help to have an extra supply of line just in case. It's important to take a dolly to put the boat on as it's hard to borrow one at the regatta.
4. Parent coaching for Green Fleet.
Parent coaching during races is permitted for green fleet only, and is restricted to the bottom half of the fleet. If you are coaching, you are expected to coach all children in the bottom half of the race, not just your own child. Never get in the way of boats that are racing. Once the race is over, you may give your child feedback or suggestions. However, if your child's coach is on the water, they should check in with the coach as well.
5. The coach's role at Green fleet
The coach is there to provide support to your child on the water. They should make sure all sailors in their class are on the water and know where to go, and that they reach the race area. Note that the organizing club will generally count all Greenies out onto the water and then into the race area. Sailors are responsible to check in with the race committee when they reach the race area. Opti sailors will usually tie up their boats to their coach's boat between races. The coach will make sure everyone knows where to go, give them suggestions and feedback, and most importantly hand out snacks and drinks. Parents should arrange ahead of time for someone to provide snacks and drinks for the team, and lunch for the coach. It's helpful to put a cooler on the coach boat.
If any child, regardless of which club they are with, is in trouble, green fleet coaches are responsible for helping them, for instance by righting or bailing their boat, or towing them back to shore. Parental help with this is usually appreciated too.
After racing, the coach will make sure everyone gets back to shore and derigs their boat properly. They will then do a debrief with the class, and help resolve any questions regarding scoring or protests.
The coach is not responsible to transport boats or children to or from the regatta or to supervise them once on shore.
6. From green fleet to championship fleet
Once you feel comfortable sailing in green fleet, you can move up to championship fleet. At Pleon, this would include sailors who are in Opti 2 or Opti Race Team. Generally if you have placed in the top 3 at three green fleet regattas, you are expected to move up so that someone else can have a turn winning! It is generally believed that you should only spend one year in green fleet. More typically, children will have one season in which they do one or two green fleet regattas just for experience, and then a second season where they sail several regattas. After that, it's usually time to move up. Championship fleet is divided into White, Blue and Red fleets, depending on age. Sailors are scored in their own fleet as well as overall. All fleets start at the same time.