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Optimist National Championship

Frequently Asked Questions for HYC Members

As you may have already heard, Hampton Yacht Club will host 300 Optimist sailors (plus umpires, coaches, parents and siblings, vendors) this summer.  You may be wondering how all of this will impact your enjoyment of the club, and why it’s so important that the club undertake regattas of this magnitude.  In hopes of answering many of your questions, we’ve compiled answers to what we expect will be common matters.  We’ll keep this FAQ updated on the club’s web site in the coming months so that you have the most up to date information at all times.

What are the dates associated with the event?

Monday, July 24 – boats and competitors will begin to arrive and practice

Tuesday, July 25 – check-in and practice

Wednesday, July 26 – Team Race Championship Day 1, with Pasta Dinner under the tent

Thursday, July 27 – Team Race Championship Day 2

Friday, July 28 – Team Race Championship Day 3, with awards and hors d’oeuvres under the tent

Saturday, July 29 – Nationals Lay Day; water access from HYC prohibited (Hampton Sprints Regatta)

Sunday, July 30 – Girls National Championship, with Pig Pickin presented by Rotary under the tent

Monday, July 31 – Fleet Race National Championship, Day 1

Tuesday, August 1 – Fleet Race National Championship, Day 2

Wednesday, August 2 – Fleet Race National Championship, Day 3

Thursday, August 3 – Fleet Race National Championship, Day 4

Friday, August 4 – competitors, coaches, vendors, sponsors, and others depart the site

How can I help?

On the water – We will need a large contingent of umpire boats and drivers for the Team Race Championship.  If you have a small boat, skiff or RIB that operates reliably and you’re willing to lend it July. 24-July 28 for 3 days of racing, please let our Sailing Director know as soon as possible.  If you are handy with outboards and can standby as a technician to help in the mornings, that would also be helpful. 

On the land – Launching and recovering 300 boats is a daunting task.  We cannot do it successfully without volunteers to help guide the kids, recover dollies, and generally organize the effort.  If you can help any or all days with these efforts, you’ll be kindly rewarded with a distinctive t-shirt.  Please let the Sailing Director or Volunteer Coordinator, Morgan Johnson know your availability.  We will post an online signup sheet in the coming weeks.  We will also need volunteers to help with various preparation tasks, registration, and cleanup.  The signup sheet will indicate what is needed.

From your home – The regatta requires a large number of umpires to get the job done on the water.  Most of the umpires are from out of town and need friendly housing for the duration.  If you can host an umpire or two in their own bedroom, please let the Sailing Director know.  If you’d like to rent out your home to a competitor’s family either for free or not, also let the Sailing Director know.  If you just want to shop, we will post an Amazon wish list of items needed for the event and you can help us out by purchasing some of those necessary items.

From your business – We are still seeking local sponsors to support the event and would welcome your business’ support and logo.  We can provide additional exposure on flyers or coupons for the families, banners in the regatta tent, or other ideas you or your marketing team may have.  Get creative; we welcome your input!

What will be the impacts on my use of the club?

General:  We expect the impacts to be similar to Southern Bay Race Week.  The regatta tent will be set up in the same area with outdoor dining events on several nights during the regatta.  Optimists, competitors and sailing gear will cover three main areas of the club:  “Dinghy Park”, the southern grassy lot adjacent to the Blackburns’ home; the former HRSD lot along Bridge Street; and the grassy lot adjacent to the pavilion near F Dock.  Launching and recovery will take place primarily at the launch ramp adjacent to the A/B Dock entrance, and for Fleet Race Nationals, we expect to add another temporary ramp in place of the kayak dock on E Dock.  Launching and recovery normally take place in the early morning (9 to 10am) and late afternoon (3 to 4pm), but these times are obviously weather-dependent.  We are also bringing in a restroom trailer for Fleet Race Nationals and will locate it to the north of the Sailing Center.  We are hopeful that this will reduce demand on the club’s existing restroom facilities. 


Access to my boat:  Access to your boat may be impacted during certain high demand times, but only for a short period.  Morning and late afternoon on race days will be busy times as boats launch and recover.  Launching and recovery normally take place in early morning (9 to 10am) and late afternoon (3 to 4pm), but these times are weather-dependent.  We are securing as much docking as possible for overnighting coach boats at neighboring marinas, but please expect that the fairway between E and F docks will be quite busy on the Fleet Race Nationals days, morning and late afternoon.  Please be cautious exiting any of the fairways, including A Dock north and south, during times when the kids are coming in or going out.  They are kids, after all! 


Parking:  We know parking is a big concern for members wanting to use the club.  During the event, parking will be restricted to members only with some spaces set aside for employees.  We are working on an arrangement with the City of Hampton to use Darling Stadium to shuttle competitors, coaches and umpires back and forth to the club’s venue.  Please make sure that your car has a club parking sticker prominently displayed as we will be issuing warnings and towing cars that are not clearly designated as members’ vehicles.  Members may also use the shuttle from Darling Stadium on race days if parking at the club is limited.  There will also be several sponsor containers parked around the Sailing Center.  All competitor and coach trailers will be parked offsite.


Social Activities and Dining:  Please consult the schedule above for conflicts with your expected social schedule.  Parents and competitors are invited to the Party on the Bricks on Friday, July 28.  We hope you’ll consider attending and showing them the hospitality for which HYC is famous!


Wednesday Night Races:  The regatta tent will be the site of a pasta dinner for Team Race Nationals competitors on Wednesday, July 26.  We expect most competitors will eat and depart prior to the Wednesday night race return to dock, but there will be a lot going on when the Wednesday night racers are departing the dock.  Please be patient, notify your crew and allow extra time.  Feel free to use the Darling Stadium parking lot and shuttle for your convenience.  Wednesday, August 2 is a Fleet Race Nationals racing day, but there are no post-racing activities planned.  Please be careful exiting fairways if the competitors are still on the water.


Hampton Sprints Regatta, July 29:  As you can see from the schedule, this is a lay day in the Optimist regatta.  There is no racing and competitors are prohibited from accessing the water that day.  We are encouraging the group to go to Busch Gardens or tour Colonial Williamsburg on their day off. 


Junior Sailing Programs:  HYC Junior Learn to Sail programs will continue, albeit at a reduced pace.  Learn to Sail will continue with accommodations made for launching and recovery in conjunction with regatta needs.

Why is the club hosting an event that maximizes our available facilities?

HYC stepped up in the final hour when the previously-committed host was no longer able to successfully run the event.  Grateful for the save, the Optimist class leadership is thrilled to bring this regatta back to our club; HYC also hosted the Optimist National Championship in 1999. 


This event is without a doubt the largest and most prestigious event in the United States for the Optimist class.  It will bring the very best coaches and competitors from around the country to our beloved southern Chesapeake Bay.  We have a unique opportunity to showcase our club’s facilities, our dedication to the future of the sport, and our club’s focus on the mission of supporting competitive sailing and sailors at the highest levels.  The economic benefits to the region and even to Downtown Hampton are immense and include hotel stays, restaurant meals, groceries, fuel purchases, and all the shopping done by Opti Moms while the kids are racing! 


Successful events of this caliber generate national recognition, which can lead to new partnerships and sponsors and will help us continue to bring in the very best coaching talent for the benefit of our local sailors.  An added benefit is that our local sailors who are excelling at the national and international level are afforded the opportunity to do so in their own backyard.  Overall, the returns will benefit our club for years to come. 

For questions regarding the event please contact the Sailing Director at

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