Ahoy from the New Bedford Yacht Club Junior Boat Regatta

Jul 10, 2023

When the flag marking a two hour postponement was raised, the sailors at the New Bedford Yacht Club Junior Boat Regatta didn’t complain, they just turned up the Taylor Swift and chatted about sailing.

The Yacht Club was filled with young sailors competing in the New Bedford Yacht Club Junior Boat Regatta the weekend of July 8 and 9.

The cluster of races hosted kids aged 7 to 18, each hoisting their sails and enjoying a sunny day out on the water.

A bit of friendly competition is 13-year-old Hoyt Hotter's favorite part of sailing. The Dartmouth resident started sailing when he was around 5 years old.

“I really like it, it’s a lot of work but it’s really fun,” Hotter said.

The regatta hosted 23 different yacht clubs from across the state and country.

“Even though technically we’re racing against our club, we’re still with them,” Hotter explained. “We’re not going to purposely let them win … [but,] if someone from my club wins it’s better than someone from a different club.”

The races are broken up into four categories depending on age and boat size. The largest boats are known as 420s, which hold two people typically aged 12-18. The Junior Regatta had 50 different 420 boats competing.

The next largest boat size is a Laser, which is a one-person boat for sailors under 16 years old, only 9 Lasers participated in the regatta.

The most popular category, which had 112 boats competing, was the Optimists, commonly known as Optis. These are small sailboats for ages 11 and up. There is also an “Opti Green” category for children under 10 years old. Thirteen kids competed in that category.

“Some of these kids have never ever, ever done this before, so it’s a lot of fun,” said Amy Ferreira, the chief judge at the Regatta. “That's the Opti Green, my favorite fleet,”

Not all the kids who competed in the race are first timers.

“Laser is an Olympic class boat, those kids could be thinking about making an Olympic campaign,” said Ferreira.

Regardless of the fleet, the kids were in, everyone had to wait to get out on the water because there was no win in the bay.

“You can’t sail without wind, because the sail is powered by wind,” said 14-year-old Grace Tucker.

The wind picked up around 11:30 a.m., and the boaters headed out to sea. Once on the water, they had a quick lunch, and then they set off sailing around a course marked by huge orange inflatable triangles.

The Regatta takes months of planning, said Jennifer Vescio, who has been working on it since January. Overall, she was happy with the way everything turned out other than the lack of wind.