Once you have got the fundamentals of sailing your optimist under your belt, why not come and enter some of our friendly racing events. As there is a broad range of ages and abilities in the Optimist fleet, we split our fleets into 2 (and sometimes 3) to ensure there is a place for everyone to have fun and make friends. 

What are your options? 

Regatta Fleet is a starter fleet, aimed at those sailors who are not yet experienced enough to join Main Fleet. The purpose of Regatta Fleet is to build sailing confidence, and to form a stepping stone into Main Fleet, and we'd expect sailors to spend two years at most in our Regatta Fleet to gain the confidence to sail in Main Fleet. 

Participants and parents should note that the aim is for a balance between these activities (and for the sailors to have a fun time), and completion of a full racing series is not a primary objective. Sailors whose primary focus is on racing are therefore encouraged to join the Main Fleet.

At larger events, the Regatta fleet is often split into two separate fleets:

Please note that all sailors should be capable of completing a triangular course in a moderate breeze and of capsize recovery without assistance. 

As a guide, sailors should spend no more than two years in Regatta Fleet. If your sailor sails in the main Oppie group at your club, or has spent two years in Regatta Fleet, we'd expect them to have developed the skills to progress into Main Fleet. 

Regatta Racing Fleet

This fleet is for sailors with experience of regatta racing who want to race all day but who are not yet confident to join the Main Fleet. This fleet seeks to bridge the gap between Coaching and Main Fleet. The general idea is that (subject to weather conditions) sailors come in for lunch. The majority of races will count towards the racing series. However, the Race Management Team may include some training races depending on the weather conditions, or if they consider it appropriate and useful for the sailors.

To get the most out of Regatta Racing Fleet, you will need to already have mastered all the standard techniques of boat control, even in quite windy conditions, and be keen to learn more about race tactics.  Sailors should have already raced both at club and smaller local open meetings. 

Regatta Coaching

This fleet is generally coached in groups in the morning and race in the afternoon. Regatta Coaching is intended for sailors who have competed in some regional regatta fleet events and have begun to race in their clubs. Sailors come in for lunch each day.

In Regatta Coaching, you will get plenty of help with improving your boat handling techniques, as well as building on your racing skills. For those who have just started racing, there will be plenty of support for the latter part of the fleet during races, and the goal is to make it a fun and positive experience for younger or less confident sailors.

Thinking about making the jump to Main Fleet?

The Nationals can be a good event to have your first go at Main Fleet because it is divided into junior and senior fleets.  So if you are Oppy age 12 or under, this is the one national event of the year where you won't be up against the entire 13, 14 and 15 year old contingent.  However, be prepared for long days out on the water (this can be up to 6 or 7 hours) and big start lines.

Moving from the Regatta fleet to Main fleet is in some ways a bit like moving up to secondary school. Be prepared to find yourself at the back of the fleet instead of the front. However, your sailing will rapidly improve! Even though it might seem quite overwhelming at first, it won't be long before you look back at Regatta Fleet as a long distant memory.

If you just want to race, and are less interested in having coaching, then you may be better off in Main Fleet.  If you are keen to improve your racing techniques and skills, and have the opportunity to try out new techniques in a racing environment, then Racing Regatta Fleet may be the place for you.

Don't forget your friends!  Sailing can be fiercely competitive, but it's lots of fun too, and most of that fun comes from being with your friends. If you move up fleets at the same time as a few of your friends, or you know a few people already, you will enjoy it a lot more and it won't feel like such a big deal.

On the water support

Don’t forget, sailors will be supported on the water in all fleets and all rescue boats are very happy to assist sailors on the water between races, so don't be worried about entering Main Fleet - there will be plenty of friendly faces to support your sailor. Rescue boat crews are always very happy to help unwrap a snack, and share a friendly word between races :)

Still not sure? Feel free to get in touch and have a chat about your circumstances/options.

What's my Oppy age?

Your Oppy age is the age you will be on 31st December in that year. You can sail an Optimist until the end of the year in which you are Oppy age 15. 

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