Green fleet regattas are where it all starts for the new racer. These regattas are just for beginners. Remember when you go to a Green Fleet regatta that all the other sailors are in the same boat as you, everything is new to them as well. And just as important remember that many of the parents are new too. Most have not been to a regatta before. Actually, USODA reports that, on average, 50% of the parents of Optimist sailors have no background in sailing.
Green Fleet has two purposes: 1) To encourage novices to attend their first Optimist Regatta, and 2) To encourage their continued participation in Optimist racing. To achieve these underlying goals, each regatta with a green fleet division may make up their own rules.
Here are some useful guidelines to consider about green fleet divisions from USODA:
- Skippers must be age 15 or under on day of the regatta.
- Clubs are encouraged to give all sailors participation awards rather than placement trophies.
- “Winning” is not as important as encouraging novice sailors.
- Coaching of the bottom half of the fleet during racing may or may not be permitted (it should be spelled out in the sailing instructions).
- Coaches should use due caution when coaching to not cause wash or other actions to interfere with other racers.
- Coaches should coach all participants that need it, not just their own sailors.
A separate skippers meeting for the green fleet sailors is highly recommended. Green fleet races should be held on a separate course so as not to delay the more efficient racing on the Red-White-Blue course.
Is my child ready for green fleet? Consider the following questions when deciding if your son or daughter should try their hand at racing in green fleet. The goal is to have a good time, make new friends, and try to do well racing sailboats. And it should be pretty much in that order. The fact that a regatta organizer has a green fleet indicates that they will try to provide an environment that engenders this spirit. If you can answer yes to most or all of these questions, then your sailor is ready to give it a try.
- Can sail upwind, reaching, and downwind?
- Understands the basic rule (no crashing) and can do his/her part to avoid crashing?
- Can identify the race course (usually a triangle marked by orange floating balls)?
- Can hear and figure out (even if it means following directions and other sailors) the starting signals?
- Wants to have fun and knows how to smile and have a good time!
Remember the goal is to have a good time. So if a half day is all that remains fun, stop sailing at lunch and come back another day for more fun!
If you think it is time to give it a try, or if you are not certain, give your sailing instructor a couple of minutes of your time, and ask. They know your sailor’s skills, and are familiar with Optimist regattas. They can give you lots of help.