Old Cove Yacht Club Junior Sailing -

Frequently Asked Questions

Membership Questions:

Do I have to be a member of OCYC? You need to be a member to participate in the racing events, and to participate in the summer sailing camps. A Family Membership is required in order have a child participate in the Old Cove YC Junior Sailing Program, including single-parent households. Grandparents may enrol as a Family Membership if they wish their grandchildren to participate in the OCYC JS program.

What is an OCYC Junior Membership and what benefits does it provide? A Junior Membership is a special class of membership. Junior members are permitted the privileges of an adult membership including participation in sailing and social activities of the club. Juniors members may not vote or hold office.

What is an OCYC Sustaining Membership? A Sustaining Membership is open to past Family or Single Members who have been active members for at least five (5) years in the past, who wish to continue to be involved with the Club without enrolling children or grandchildren in the Junior Sailing Program.

We do not always get information about OCYC activities. Communication is one of the biggest challenges in a volunteer organization like OCYC . We try to post all activities online and e-mail a newsletter (Monthly from March through October). Please check that OCYC has an up to date e-mail address for everyone.

Junior Sailing Program Questions:

How do I register my child for the OCYC JS Program? Registration takes place on-line through our website. Choose the class suitable for your child and follow the instructions. Payment is made through Paypal.

General Information: The OCYC JS A Parent-Student Handbook will explain most program provisions and a copy may be downloaded here

Are there Scholarships? Thanks to generous donors, including the Sky Bergen Memorial Fund and the Schowalter Family Scholarship Fund, the Old Cove Youth Sailing Foundation (“OCYSF”) can offer up to three (3) annual scholarships for young residents of the Town of Southold to participate in the OCYC JS Program. Any youth between the ages of 7 and 15 years and who is a full-time resident of the Town of Southold is eligible to apply. The OCYSF Board has complete discretion in making the award, however, preference shall be given to those who exhibit good character, an enthusiasm for sailing, a strong commitment to attend every lesson in an effort to obtain the full benefit of learning this sport and financial need. In awarding the scholarship, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin are prohibited. Application instructions and forms can be found here

What is the Parent of the Day? Upon registering your child for the OCYC JS Program you will be asked to commit to an AM or PM Parent of the Day session. Each parent shall sign up to be Parent of the Day so as to have an adult presence at the club at all times. The Parent of the Day shall answer the telephone and record messages and help tidy up the clubhouse. The Parent of the Day shall call to remind the next day’s Parent of the Day for the same session. You may sign up for additional Parent of Day sessions here

What is the Optimist Dinghy?

The Optimist is the largest junior racing fleet in the world and the international standard in junior instruction. The boat’s simplicity and stability make it ideal for teaching young beginners while the popularity of the Optimist class makes the boat extremely challenging for pre-teen racers. OCYC owns a fleet of 24 Optimists to use for the summer program. Most racers bring privately owned boats for practice and racing. The class website is www.USODA.org

What are the Optimist Age Limits

A skipper can race Optimists until December 31st in the year they turn 15. On December 31st of that year, they age out of Optimists and can no longer race the boat.

What is Optimist Grren, Optimist White/Blue/Red? What are these Optimist Fleets? To promote participation across a wide range of skill levels and ages, Optimist racing events are typically divided into fleets. Green fleet is a special fleet for beginners. Green fleet sailors can be any age up to 15. A green fleet might have skippers who are as young as 6 and as old as 15, but sooner or later they’ll move into either the red, white, or blue fleet depending on their age. Green fleet typically sails relatively close to shore and on short courses. Sailors may be coached at any time including during a race. Skippers who are 10 or under sail in the white fleet; skippers who are 11 and 12 sail in the blue fleet; and skippers who are 13, 14, or 15 sail in the red fleet. In all fleets, the determining date is the skipper’s age on the first day of the regatta. Skippers move up to blue fleet on their 11th birthday and red fleet on their 13th birthday. At most regattas, the red, blue, and white fleets all start at the same time and race on the same course. Coaching for the red/white/blue fleets is permissible before and after, but not during individual races. Coaches can observe the racing from designated areas and provide feedback to the sailors at the completion of the race(s) observed.

What is the Laser? The Laser is the single-handed option for sailors who are too big or too old to sail the Optimist. The Laser is an Olympic Class boat (men sail the Laser Standard and women sail the Laser Radial at the Olympics) which keeps sailors sailing from beginner through the highest levels of sailing. The Laser can be rigged with three different sail plans, providing great versatility across a wide range of sizes. Lasers are best suited to sailors 13 years of age or older, over 125 pounds, and focused on racing. Lasers are one of the fastest growing one-design classes in North America and the primary single-handed boat used in youth sailing events. Additional information about the Laser Class Association is at www.nalaser.org

What are the Laser Sailor Weight and Rig Recommendations? There are differing opinions about the recommended weights for the various Laser rig sizes. Even the manufactures of the Laser have differing recommendations. Here are the Performance Sailcraft and Laser Performance recommendations, bearing in mind that at an Olympic level, men sail a Standard rig and women sail a Radial rig.


Standard Rig

Radial Rig


Performance Sailcraft Australia

65+ kg/143+ lbs

55-65 kg/121-143 lbs

35-55 kg/77-121 lbs

Laser Performance

73-86 kg/160-190 lbs

55-72 kg/121-159 lbs

45-54 kg/100-120 lbs

What is the Club 420 ? The Club 420 is the most popular and versatile double-handed junior boat in North America. The Club 420 is sturdy and safe while providing the challenge of having a spinnaker and trapeze. The boat is best suited for sailors 12-18 years of age and over 100 pounds. OCYC has 7 competitive Club 420s for use in the summer program. Additional information about the 420 Class Association is at www.club420.org

What is the Collegiate 420 and what are the High School Teams? The Collegiate 420 is used for the High School Sailing Program in the spring and fall. The boat is the same as the club 420 with the exception that the trapeze and spinnaker gear is removed. Old Cove YC is the venue for high school sailing in the fall and spring and makes its fleet of C420s available to the sailors enrolled in the High School Sailing Program (run by the East End Youth Sailing Foundation). All OCYC 420s are used for High School Sailing to maximize on the water participation. Information about high school sailing can be found at www.eastendyouthsailing.org

Does my child need his/her own boat? Yes, children need access to their own boat. Boats are the equipment used to learn to sail. Without the proper equipment, a child cannot be expected to progress properly. Sharing does not allow each child to move at their own pace and fully develop their skills. In shared situations, one child usually becomes the leader and the other the follower. This is counter to the goal of developing self-confidence and independence.

Buying a boat is a large financial commitment when my child may not stay with the program. If purchasing a boat for your child is not feasible, OCYC can provide boats for use during the junior sailing classes. These are good quality starter boats for any fleet including the Optimist, 420 and Laser. You may also buy a new or used boat. Used boats are usually in high demand. Trying to find a good used boat in the summer is quite difficult. Historically, Optimists, C420s and Lasers depreciate $200-400 per year depending on age and condition. If the child decides that sailing is not for him or her, the boat can be sold with a minimum loss of value.

I am an experienced racer. Can I coach my child at regattas? If your sailor is participating in an event with a OCYC provided coach, we highly recommended that you leave the coaching to them. Let them do their job without undue influences. If a coach is not present and you desire to coach, you must follow the coaching rules as stipulated in the NOR. Be cognizant that your experience level will be very different than that of a young sailor. Keep it positive regardless of race outcomes and limit your input to a few things at a time to avoid information overload. With the exception of the Optimist Green Fleet, coaching for all junior sailing is only permissible before and after, but not during individual races. Coaches can observe the racing from designated areas and provide feedback to the sailors at the completion of the race(s) observed. Coaching for Optimist Green Fleeter sailors may occur at anytime including during the race.

Does a sailor have to join their boat’s class association? Sailors participating in championship events must belong to the class association. Although not mandatory for sailors participating in club or local events, it is highly recommended that they do join. The cost of joining is not great and in doing so support is provided for the operation and administration of the association. Class associations exist to establish and maintain national standards/rules for the class that adhere to or are complementary to international standards and rules, facilitate class championships and events, and provide overall organization for the class. One benefit of membership is quarterly newsletters that provided regatta results, tips, rules changes, schedules, and a number of other informational items.

Why should I join US SAILING? We highly recommend that all sailors, regardless of age that race at any level, be members of US SAILING. This organization has been chosen by Congress to be the National Governing Board (NGB) for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing in the United Sates. Their mission is to encourage participation and promote excellence in sailing and sailboat racing in the U.S. There are some major regattas that require membership with US SAILING. Others offer a discount in regatta fees to current members. US SAILING offers a family membership that provides for a significantly reduced cost on a per sailor basis.

Can I launch my personal boat at OCYC? OCYC does not have launching facilities for power boats or boats on trailers. There is a boat ramp in New Suffolk available for public use.

As a Member, can I store a boat at OCYC? Old Cove YC has very limited space to store boats. Junior Sailors can store the boat that they will be using in class over the course of the summer (i.e. an Optimist Dinghy, a Laser or a C420) free of charge. Other boats, including kayaks, may not be stored at Old Cove YC. Please refer to Section 6 of the Parent Student Handbook.

More Questions: Contact the Junior Sailing Director here