My First Away Regatta

My First Away Regatta 

by A. Olivo

Out of town regattas are great opportunities for Opti sailors to expand their skills and share great experiences with their families. To get the most out of these activities advanced planning and commitment from both sailors and parents will be required. Look at the schedule and decide which regattas you plan to attend. Ask your coach any questions that can help you make a decision.

Not all venues offer the same quality or conditions 

If I plan to go, what do I need to do? 

Let your club/coach know you will be attending this event. Try to do this as soon as you've decided that you are attending the event. It is important to coordinate with your program and coaches because arrangements need to be made for coaches depending on the number of kids attending the event. Waiting until the last minute to decide and register for the vent can cause problems with your program as logistics have to be arranged well in advance.

Go to the web site of the host regatta and download the Notice of Race. You can then register for this regatta online through the Regatta Organization Site, like ClubSpot, Regatta Network or Yacht Scoring. Be sure to note any deadlines and try to register early. Print any pertinent registration forms to bring to the regatta for backup.

  • If this is your first time registering for a regatta, be sure to also register with the sanctioning body (US Sailing and/or USODA!)


You have several options and we strongly recommend basing this off of a budget for the regatta. The average hotel room night in the US is $181 so it would be a good starting point. Remember! Booking early is best - you will have secured the necessary lodging which can come in short supply since some Opti sailing venues are small with limited hotel inventory. You will find the closest hotels to the venue if you book minimum 2-3 months in advance.

Air BnB is also a good option but buyer beware - do your research before booking as your mileage may vary greatly with Air Bnb rentals. Air Bnb is a great way to save money as you can find rentals closer than hotels, as well as split costs with other families, so it may be worth looking into. Check out my related post on how to book an Air Bnb for a sailing regatta

What about my boat and gear? 

If you are not transporting your own Opti and plan to put your boat on your club trailer, please let your coach know. Prior to the regatta the coach will announce a time for loading hulls, usually at the last practice before the regatta.

What else do I need to bring?

Make sure your sailor has the necessary clothing and that their boat is up to spec! Try to find out the expected conditions for the event and plan accordingly. If the event is expected to be rainy and windy, make sure you bring extra change of clothes for your kids per day of racing. Make sure to get all boat gear from the club (spars, sails, blades)

What next? 

Once you've arrived at the venue, check in to your hotel/rental and if you're there the night before, find out where the boat trailers are in order to bring your boat down with your sailor. Contact your coach or other sailors to check for last minute issues or changes. Make sure you go over the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions with your sailor the night before in order to be ready for the days of racing.

Regatta Day 

We recommend being early to the venue in order to have time to situate yourselves and know where everything is if you did not have a chance to do it the day before. If you arrived too late for checkin, normally you'll be able to do it the first morning of racing. While your sailor is rigging his/her boat or before, go to the registration table and finalize your registration.

After the sailor rigs his/her boat have the coach check it. This can only happen if you are ready early. The coach will probably call a team meeting prior to the skippers meeting, so it's a good idea to check with the coach prior to this as to where and what time that meeting will be. It is crucial for a sailor to attend that team meeting in order to be on the same page with the team and have any doubts about procedure or Race Committee's intentions clarified. At the meeting the coach will most likely review the Sailing Instructions and update the sailors.

Team Meeting over breakfast

Launching and Recovery

Parents should stay around to help the sailors launch. Try not to help only team members but any other sailor who needs assistance in launching, after all - sailors help each other! For recovery,  plan on arriving early at the end of the sailing day (usually 3 or 4) to help sailors and boats back on to land. Make sure to store your boat for the night as directed (sometimes upside down, sometimes in a secured area.) Every regatta is a little different.

Launch Ramps and docks can get crowded

After the Last Race 

Once racing has concluded, bring your boat back to the trailer and load your boat yourself. Trailer loading usually is first come, first served. Try to lend a hand with as many boats as you can since the faster they are loaded the easier it is for the coaches to secure them and get on the road! But -  if time allows stay and attend the trophy presentations, even if your sailor hasn't won anything. We've found that it is motivating for the kids to see trophies being handed out, especially if you have a self-motivating child.

Final Thoughts

DO NOT PROCRASTINATE on organizing your sailor(s) for out of town events. The earlier you prepare, the smoother and easier these events will be for all concerned. And remember, each regatta is a little different, so do your research and ask questions! Coaches are your number one resource, and other families in your sailing program can also help you know what to expect. Check out Opti TV's growing list of venue reviews to get some first-hand info on your upcoming regatta!

See you out on the water,