High School Racing Program -Frequently Asked Questions

DC Sail has a comprehensive Parent/Sailor Handbook for your review. Please click here.

What Do I Need?

During the beginning of the fall season, sailors will need U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, refillable water bottles, closed-toed shoes, appropriate water-oriented clothing, a bailer, and a watch with count-down timer. As the season moves along, we recommend purchasing spray gear as well as a wetsuit or a drysuit. Drysuit/wetsuits are not imperative for the fall, but will be absolutely necessary in order to participate in the spring. Sailing-specific gear can be found purchased at a variety of marine retailers.  It is also relatively easy to find this gear online, and on sale, please see coaches if you need any help. Please scroll down and you'll find a comprehensive list of gear retailers.

How Do Regattas Work?

High school sailing closely parallels the collegiate sailing format. For fleet racing, teams are divided into A and B divisions, with different skippers and crews in each division. Teams may substitute sailors as long as prescribed substitution rules are followed. Short courses--average of 18 minutes or so--are used, typically windward-leeward with a gate. Except in rare cases, only one fleet (A or B) is on the water at a time. After two races are completed, divisions switch, and the boat being sailed by each team is rotated. This allows for coaching and a break. Boat rotation eliminates the possibility of any team having an advantage because of an inherently faster boat.

Schools also participate in team racing events, where each school fields three boats to sail against three boats from another team. In team racing, teammates work together to outmaneuver the other team so that their combined race scores are better than the other team’s combined scores.

Are There Varsity and Junior Varsity Teams?

DC Sail coaches divide high school teams into varsity and junior varsity teams based on observed performance and personal knowledge regarding skill levels. Varsity teams attend local regattas and also travel to venues requiring overnight stays several times a season. Organization of all local and overnight trips is the responsibility of team captains and parents. JV teams typically travel to day-long local regattas. The Green Fleet does not travel. They will engage in intramural regattas at the DC Sail facility.

How Do I and My Parents Get Updates about What's Going On?

Emails will periodically be sent out as needed. You can also request to join the private access DC Sail High School Racing page and follow DCSail on Facebook.

How Is High School Sailing in Maryland Organized?

DC Sail teams are a part of the Central League of the Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Sailing Association (MASSA) District. Teams participate in a number of regattas throughout the seasons, which run from September to November and March to May. The end of each season culminates in a District Championship. In the spring, for those teams that qualify, the National Fleet Racing Championship (Mallory Cup) and National Team Racing Championship (Baker Cup) are held.

What Does It Stand For?

VISA: Virginia Interscholastic Sailing Association, local-level events

MDISA: Maryland Interscholastic Sailing Association, local-level events

MASSA: Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Sailing Association, regional-level events

ISSA: Interscholastic Sailing Association, national-level events

Which is preferable for sailing, a wet suit or a dry suit?

There are three options for cold weather sailing. The first and most expensive option is a drysuit. This, by design, completely covers the body including the feet and keeps the sailor dry at all times (unless there is a fault in the seals or zipper). Prices for these for junior sailors run from $300 and up. The best versions are gore-tex and are between $500 and $1500. The second option is a new item on the market that a few manufacturers are offering: wet/dry suits. These look like traditional wetsuits but have a "hydrophobic" outer layer that prevents the sailor from getting wet. The final option, and by far the most common in youth sailing, is a conventional wetsuit. These, of course, do not keep the sailor dry, but trap water in the neoprene layer and preserve body heat by preventing water and heat transfer. Wetsuits that are called "spring" suits are less than 3 mm thick and are rated for temperatures 60 degrees and above. It is suggested that you avoid a spring suit unless another layer is worn on top of the wet suit. It is very common for kids to wear a wetsuit underneath a waterproof layer. For dinghy sailing it is recommended that this consists of a salopette or bib (waterproof coveralls very like those marketed for skiing) or waterproof pants, and a dinghy smock. Dinghy smocks are worn by sailors and a nearly identical garment is worn by whitewater kayakers. The benefit of this is that when temperatures get warmer the sailor can ditch the wetsuit and just wear the smock and bib/waterproof pants. As per US Sailing guidelines, we require either a wetsuit or a drysuit in order to sail when the combined air and water temperature is below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Are there stores in the DC area that sell the suits?

In the DC area, there are a few kayaking outfitters that carry this gear. Potomac Paddle Sports, Hudson Trail Outfitters and REI all carry gear for kayaking that can be used for sailing as well. The only sailing specific store that carries some of this gear in the DC area is West Marine in Alexandria.

Some other sites where very good deals can be found are Layline, www.layline.com, Intensity Sails, www.intensitysails.com, Mauri Pro Sailing, www.mauriprosailing.com, and Defender marine outfitters, www.defender.com. There are other sites, but the ones provided here have very good reputations.

Two English sites have become popular recently, Trident UK, http://www.tridentuk.com/, has very good products for good prices. You might have to pay customs on Trident's gear. One of our former team captains who sails for the University of Edinborough highly recommends the TR-60 suit. The other site, Crewsaver, http://www.crewsaver.co.uk/, has gotten a high review from one of our adult racers. He found a great deal on his drysuit there. These two sites seem to have the best prices for drysuits even after paying importing fees.

Is there a particular brand that you recommend?

Please click here for an overview of Suggested Gear Resource Document "Sailing Clothing Brands" 

As for specific brands, that's a little more complicated. For sailing specific wetsuits, Zhik, Ronstan and Rooster get very good reviews. For non-sailing specific brands, the surfing gear companies like O'Neill and Body Glove are common.

For sailing specific drysuits, smocks and bibs, the top of the line drysuits are made by Musto and Kokatat. Kokatat products are available at the kayaking outfitters listed above. However, they are both very expensive. Just below that level are Henri Lloyd, Helly Hansen and Gill, all of which are much less expensive and with very good quality gear. Gill puts out the most complete line of junior sailing gear and you will see a lot of gill drytops (smocks) at junior sailing events. All three of these can be found at the sailing stores listed above. There have been some really good deals on junior's smocks.

If you catch a sale, a smock will run around $75, a bib can be anywhere from $75 if you are very lucky, up to around $175 (much more for adults). A wetsuit will run around $100 and up for a 3 mm suit. Spring suits will fall in the $75 and up range unless you find a great deal.

What about shoes, boots, and gloves?

In addition to the above, you should invest in good winter sailing gloves. Atlas puts out a very inexpensive product that is becoming very popular among sailors. Their gloves start at around $15. In addition, a pair of dinghy boots are strongly recommended. If wearing a drysuit, you can wear skiing socks inside them to keep the feet warm. If wearing a wetsuit, some companies sell neoprene booties, but a pair of waterproof socks layered over wool socks and inside dinghy boots is the most common combination.

Please Click Here for Resource Document for Preparation - Cold Weather Sailing

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