As best Kevin Beaulieu can tell, the Opti regatta held Sunday at the Warwick Country Club is the first hosted by the club since the 1927 Star World Championships.
Sunday’s event in Greenwich Bay in front of the golf club was surely quite different from the Star Worlds. The Star is a type of sloop that is still raced today.
The Optimist, or “Opti,” on the other hand, is a small bathtub-shaped craft with a single sail used for training kids. There are fleets of them at yacht clubs throughout the bay.
Beaulieu, a member of the club who grew up sailing, reintroduced sailing at the country club several years ago. The club started as a yacht club and had an extensive series of docks and an active boating membership before hurricanes blew the docks away. Today, club sailors launch their boats from the beach.
Sunday’s regatta was an open invitation to Green Fleet Opti sailors throughout the state. “Green Fleet” is the designation for the novice sailors.
“To build a sailing program, you have got to start with the young kids,” says Beaulieu.
The club now has six Club Hunter 14s and six Optis. There are four instructors under the direction of Josh Procaccianti.
A fleet of 10 boats competed, with kids ranging in age from 9 to 13. They were escorted by an assortment of other craft, from inflatables, powerboats and a sailboat carrying coaches, family members and friends who cheered the young sailors on. Action came to a halt at about noon, when a boat from the club made a delivery of sandwiches and bottled water.
Beaulieu said the participating sailors raved about the regatta and the venue, which only supports his plan to make this the first of many annual regattas hosted at the Warwick Country Club.
Placing first in the series of races was Dixon Wixted of Edgewood Yacht Club; second was Clinton Hegarty of Bristol; and third went to Jacob Romano of the Warwick club.