Let the fun being!
It is never to soon to learn how to race
Guidelines for Green Fleet Regattas
The Green Fleet regatta experience is greatly benefited by delivering an event with a high standard for fun and learning enjoyment. To run a successful Green Fleet regatta a few key ingredients are required:
- A friendly, talkative, encouraging and collaborative PRO
- Engaged and collaborative coaches and parents
- A dedicated on-shore base of Green Fleet Operations for the event
- A schedule that compliments the overall event agenda
- Simple sailing instructions
- A variety of learning opportunities
A Friendly, Talkative, Encouraging and Collaborative Green Fleet PRO:
Picking the correct PRO is arguable the most important factor in creating a positive Green Fleet experience. It is far less about being a seasoned race officer and much more knowing how to engage with younger sailors. The right Green Fleet PRO loves young kids, loves being around them and loves interacting with them.
Engaged and Collaborative Coaches and Parents:
Parents and coaches need to play a major role in the Green Fleet experience. Both on and off the water, these people play a key role in the kids’ experiences. A collective team effort where everyone cheerfully helps, coaches and encourages everyone is absolutely critical and mandatory. The PRO safety boats and coach boats should all be a collective source of friendly and cheerful encouragement and assistance for each and every sailor!
A Separate On-Shore Base of Green Fleet Operations:
If you are running an Opti green fleet event in conjunction with an Opti Red, Blue and White fleets it is best practice to have a geographically separate area for the Green Fleeters.
This where they will launch and retrieve boats, where coach boats dock, where PRO and safety boats dock, and where the skippers meeting and post-race debriefs should take place.
The reason for this is to give the Green Fleet Sailor the feeling of being in their own “world” that was scaled down to them, as well as their skills and needs
A Separate Schedule that Compliments the Overall Event Agenda:
Green Fleeters should have a slightly different schedule than the Red, White and Blue Fleeters. Their meeting and launches should happen after the Red, White and Blue Fleeters launch and they should return to shore from racing before the Red, White and Blue Fleeters return.
Both on and off the water the Green Fleeters should easily see the Red, White and Blue process and races, but should never be placed in the midst of it. Allow them to get an idea of what is next for them – without letting it overwhelm them.
Simple Sailing Instructions & Courses:
Create a separate set of sailing instructions designed specifically for the Green Fleet.
They should be a simplified set of sailing instructions that eliminates the complex procedures and protest instructions. Whenever possible, change wording to terms the kids will understand. Simplify the course layout and starting sequences. Edit it down to something that fits on two sides of one sheet of paper.
Suggested fun tips for the Green Fleet PRO:
- Set a mid line start and finish line to keep the kids within view as well as hailing distance if possible.
- Do single lap races to keep the stragglers from falling too far behind and becoming discouraged.
- Unconventional marks can add some fun to the event (i.e., large inflatable pool toys)
- It seem that kids always want to know “How many more races are we gonna do?” A great way to answer this is to say (with a big smile): “A million!”
- Try to teach the sailors a little something each day. (Example: fly the postponement flag and ask them what it looks like. The answer is almost always “A candy cane.” Then explain the flag to them and have them repeat it back to you and then move on. A good way to repeat this lesson is fly this flag when you do a water or snack break.
- Chat with coaches, parents and spectators on the water whenever possible, especially when the sailors do something well. This will give the coaches good material to teach from and helps the parents fell that this experience was worth their time, effort and perhaps even some parental anxiety. Establishing a friendly dialoge is also very useful when you need their help for any reason.