This past week, Seaton Hawpe (11) and Beau Phillips (9) sailed in the 2023 USODA Optimist Nationals Regatta. In youth sailing, the Optimist Sailboat is the international standard sailboat for 8-15 year old sailors. The Optimist is used worldwide for youth sailing education and competition. Optimist Sailors are divided into four fleets based on experience and age.
- Green Fleet: The green fleet is for sailors who are ready for regattas, but not yet ready for the intense competition of the championship fleet. Typically, kids have more fun sailing in green fleet and the racing is a bit more casual with more lenient rules and no after-race protests.
- Championship Fleet (Red, White, and Blue): The Championship fleet is for sailors who have sights set on international and national level titles. This is ‘olympic level’ sailing for young 10-15 year old sailors. The Championship fleet is split into age groups outlined here:
- Red: 14-15 years old
- Blue: 12-13 years old
- White: 10-11 years old
Many sailing coaches recommend staying in the green fleet, maybe forever, but certainly until a sailor is consistently sailing in the top 10 in regional level regattas with more than 30 boats competing. Hatteras sailors demonstrated that they are competitive with sailors from major yacht clubs with decades if not centuries of history and very mature youth sailing programs. “It am proud to see Hatteras Sailors competing on the national stage with sailors from Chicago, San Diego, and Annapolis. Every time we enter a regatta these kids make lifelong relationships and treasured memories they will carry with will them for the rest of their lives” says Hatteras Sailing Program Director and Optimist Coach, Meg Phillips.
Regattas are a collection of races. In the green fleet, a typical regatta will race between 6-10 races with the worst score for each sailor dropped. The 2023 National Green fleet was a 4 day regatta and there were 12 total races and the low score was not dropped. There were 38 competitors in total.
Both Hatteras Sailors finished all 12 races including crossing the finish line in the last race. The wind died halfway through the last race and the bottom half of the fleet was scored in place rather than being allowed to cross the finish line. In this race, Hatteras Sailors showed a newly gained patience, perseverance, and skill in light wind sailing. These light wind sailing skills are tough to coach here on Hatteras Island where we typically have more than 12 knots of breeze and often more than 18 knots. Hatteras Sailors leveled up their light wind sailing skills showing markedly improved score from the first day to the last during light wind races. Our overall best day was the second day of racing when the wind picked up to 12-15 knots sustained wind with both Hatteras Sailors finishing two of three races in the top 10.
- Seaton Hawpe finished all 12 races with three races in the top half of the fleet and two races in the top ten. Seaton’s best score was 7th, and he finished the regatta ranked 24th overall.
- Beau Phillips finished all 12 races with 7 races in the top half of the fleet and three races in the top ten. Beau’s best score was 6th. Beau finished the regatta ranked 16th overall.
Hatteras Sailing offers summer “learn to sail” camps and year round competitive sailing to Outer Banks Youth and Adults. Scholarships are available. For more information on how you can get involved with sailing or provide a scholarship, contact Hatteras Sailing here.