Watch Hill Yacht Club

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Watch Hill Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program Details


Let us tell you a little about the Watch Hill Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program…

Welcome to the Watch Hill Yacht Club. We are pleased to extend an invitation to all our WHYC members and sponsored guests, to learn the fundamentals of sailing. Our goal is to cultivate a lifelong passion and appreciation for the best sport in the world!

The WHYC Jr. Sailing program offers a variety of different sailing courses over the months of July and August, in two different classifications: Optis and c420s. Optis are a small, single-handed, simple one sail rig; an excellent beginner's boat as well as a highly competitive dinghy class, designed for ages seven to fifteen. Club 420s are fourteen feet, double handed (skipper and crew), high performance boats used by all ages. WHYC recommends that c420 classes be reserved for students who are 14+ or have outgrown the Opti. C420s remains the choice boat for high school and college racing. Classes are taught by our WHYC Jr. Sailing instructor staff. All instructors are US Sailing Certified, Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified, and have a background in collegiate sailing. Below, please find a detailed course description of each program offered at the Watch Hill Yacht Club, to better help you find the right match for your child.

Sailor Girl Taste of Sailing
An introductory course to the world of sailing. Taste meets once a week (Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM). This program is designed for seven to nine year olds, who are interested in getting a 'taste' of sailing. This light-hearted, fun class gives students the opportunity to sail in a variety of different boat classifications: optis, c420s, and WH-15s. Taste of Sailing is a prerequisite course to our Beginner OPTI I program. Recommended 1-2 years of participation.

A beginner program, used to introduce students to the basics of sailing, with an emphasis on fun and safety. Students will learn: the names of the different parts of the boat; how to steer, tack, and jibe; recover from a capsize; and other basic water safety skills. The goal of Opti I is to build confidence about boat handling, while working in teams with their fellow junior sailors. Opti I is ideal for ages nine and up; 1-4 years of sailing experience; and for those who have not participated in regattas. It is recommended that students successfully complete 1-2 years of Taste of Sailing prior to joining the Beginner Class program (or instructor approval).
Sailor Boy

Once a junior sailor has successfully completed the beginner OPTI I class, the next step in the WHYC sailing program is OPTI II. This intermediate class directly builds upon the skill-sets fostered in OPTI I, with new focus on boat handling, upwind sailing, the triangle course, starts, rounding marks, using the tiller extension, sitting on the rail, basic rules, and getting out of irons quickly. OPTI II will provide a true introduction to the world of racing. The goal of this four day / week program is to prepare students to participate in local Green Fleet Regattas and encourage sailors to partake in weekly WHYC Interclub Races on Monday Nights. OPTI II is designed for those whom have had 3-5 years of sailing experience (including Taste of Sailing).

OPTI III and IV Racing
This joint class is designed for Intermediate and Advanced Opti racers, who have had five years (minimum) of sailing experience, participate regularly in regattas, and exhibit excellence in boat handling. OPTI III specifically refers to sailors that are still in the Green Fleet division, while OPTI IV are those racing in the RWB Fleet. This class likewise meets four days / week with focus on fine tuning, boat handling, racing strategy, and heavy air sailing. Students should have a strong commitment to sailing and be independent, with little instructor supervision. Participation in local ECSA regattas is built into this program.
Boy Racing

Boy holding the tiller Beginner 420 Sailing
This class is designed for students in their first year of 420 sailing. Knowing when to transition from Optis to 420s is always a difficult question to address. WHYC recommends that students stay in Opti Sailing as long as possible. Beginner 420 Sailing is meant for sailors ages 14+ (or upon instructor approval); are in their first year of 420 sailing, and / or have not participated in a 420 regatta. Focus is placed upon learning boat handling, upwind sailing, the triangle course, starts, rounding marks, using the tiller extension, sitting on the rail, basic rules, and getting out of irons quickly.

Intermediate 420 Sailing
Sailors expand upon their basic boat handling knowledge learned in Beginner 420 Sailing, while being introduced to 420 racing. This class requires a student to have a commitment to sailing and be independent with little instructor supervision. Intermediate 420 Sailing places emphasis on mastering c420 sailing under a variety of conditions and situations. Concepts include fine tuning, sailing upwind with strategy, racing, and rounding marks. Intermediate 420 sailors will be introduced to spinnaker and trapeze work. This class is designed for students with 1-3 years of 420 sailing experience who have participated in 420 regattas.
Kids having fun

Advanced Racing Advanced 420 Team Racing
This curriculum will introduce strategy for short course racing, advanced sailing, team racing rules, nuances of sail trim, use of weight and positioning for benefit. There will be opportunities for team and individual racing. Attendance at local ECSA events is strongly encouraged as well as participation in area Race weeks and Class Nationals. We recommend that juniors take advantage of participating in Wednesday night Watch Hill-15 races. Students should have a minimum of two years of 420 sailing experience and participate regularly in regattas and Team Racing. If you have any questions about picking the right class for your child, please feel free to contact us at
Peeking over a clipboard

Below please find an overview of the daily schedule for the course offerings at WHYC

Class Day Time
Taste of Sailing Wednesday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Opti I & II Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Opti III & IV Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 1:00 - 4:00 PM
420 Sailing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 1:00 - 4:00 PM

Part of being a good sailor is being prepared.
Use the list below to help assemble your sailing bag with items that you should bring to class each day.

  • US Coast Guard approved properly fitting lifejacket
  • Backpack or bag (that can be closed to hold all your child's belongings)
  • Foul weather gear
  • Bathing suit
  • Change of clothes
  • Towel
  • Whistle (available for sale at the WHYC)
  • Water / snack (nut free)
  • Sunglasses / hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed-toe shoes: non-skid, rubber soled shoes or sandals.
  • Bailer
Laying It Down

When your child is ready to take on a regatta, he / she will need to bring a few things along for the ride.
Here is a helpful guide of things to bring on race day!

  • Registration form (online)
  • Payment - unfortunately, we cannot place charges on yacht club account
  • Change of clothes
  • Snacks
  • Lunch
  • Lifejacket
  • Water bottles
  • Sunglasses / hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Fowl weather gear
  • Towel
  • Bag
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Whistle
  • Bailer
  • Racing Pinny
How do you know if your child is ready for a Regatta?
All sailors interested in participating in a regatta must first successfully complete a Monday Night Race. What does this mean? Each sailor needs to be able to make it around the Triangle Course, without the assistance of an instructor. We implement this rule because at a regatta, every sailor will need to be able to go around the course by themselves. Monday Night Racing is supposed to better prepare each sailor for a Regatta.
Colorful sails

Everything you need to know about Monday Night Racing and Potluck Dinner at WHYC
  • Each sailor should be rigged and ready by 4:45 PM
  • First whistle will be at 5:00 PM
  • No race will begin after 6:00 PM
  • Potluck dinner on the dock following races. We encourage everyone to stay for dinner! Grills are available.
  • We ask that all parents help to enforce that their child fully derigs (sails, blades and boat) prior to enjoying dinner
  • Monday Night Racing dinners are themed! An email blast will go out in advance to help with potluck planning. We highly encourage everyone to participate, as it is a wonderful way to meet new families and cultivate friendships. Everyone is welcome (members and sponsors, family, friends). Even if your child is not ready to race, you are still welcome to participate in the potluck dinner. Any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Monday Night Racing Parent Spectator Boats:
  • We love to get the parents out on the race course for Monday Night Racing; as we otherwise have closed class hours. Monday Night Racing is a fantastic opportunity to see your kid sail!
  • If you would like to sign up to take parents out to watch the races, please let us know. We would like to have at least one parent boat out on the water each week.

Private Lessons are a great way to get a little extra water time.
Here is how they work!
  • Ideal for anyone who wants added time on the water or work on a specific area; also for anyone who is feeling a little apprehensive in class.
  • Private lessons can be scheduled with any instructor, outside of classroom hours. To book a lesson, please contact us at
  • Please note: one does not need to be enrolled in the Junior Sailing Program to participate in private lessons.
Parent Volunteers

The key to WHYC Junior Sailing's success is based on our fantastic parent volunteers!

We are always are looking for parent support. We truly believe that the success of our Junior Sailing Program is solely based upon our incredible parent volunteers. Therefore, we encourage our parents to be as involved as possible. If you are interested in volunteering for a Monday Night Spectator Boat or Regatta support, please let us know at WHYC hosts two regattas each season Class will be closed during home regatta events. We will be looking for parents to help with lunch distribution as well as water, cookies, and watermelon donations. If you are interested in signing up to help at an event, please let us know.