Frequently Asked Questions

You may be wondering about what your child is doing in the FIYC sailing lessons, especially if you are not a sailor yourself. Sailing is a fun activity that anyone can do.

The principles and skills your child is learning can be used for a lifetime and on any sailboat. This document is to answer some common questions and give you an idea of what may be coming up during the summer.

How and when do I register for sailing classes?

You must fill out a registration form and medical authorization for each of your children. The forms are available in the ‘How to Register’ section of this site or on the HHC website. You may register via e-mail, mail, over the phone or in person.

Registration opens in early June. However, you may also sign-up at any point during the summer by contacting the HHC front office—as long as it is 24-hours before the start of the lesson. Please note that while we do our best to accommodate everyone, classes do fill up and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

I am a member of FIYC, but not HHC. How will HHC know I am a FIYC member?

On the registration form there is an area where you may indicate your FIYC membership status.

Will I receive confirmation that my registration has been received?

Because of the large volume of registration forms we must process, we cannot send everyone a confirmation email. You will only be contacted if something is missing with the registration or if we cannot accommodate the lesson request.

What should my child bring to class?

  • Properly-sized life jacket (Personal Flotation Device or PFD). If your sailor does not own one or forgets theirs, they may borrow a club life jacket for the class.
  • Closed toe shoes. These can be something like Crocs, Tevas, Keens or even fast drying sneakers. Flip flops and bare feet are not appropriate as there is hardware in sailboats that you can stub a toe on and there can be splinters or loose screws on the docks).
  • Bathing suit or clothes they can get wet in and a towel (getting wet is a normal occurrence)
  • Sunscreen (please apply before class) and a hat or sunglasses with a tie-strap
  • Water bottle

Is there a swim test?

Yes, there is a swim test administered during the first sailing class. All junior sailors are expected to have the ability to swim prior to beginning lessons. You may also ask an HHC Swim Instructor to vouch that your child is an able and confident swimmer. If your child is not a strong or confident swimmer, please contact the HHC front office and Sailing Director prior to the start of lessons. The Hay Harbor Club offers swimming lessons, both group and private.

If my child is a strong swimmer, does she/he need a life-jacket?

Our number one priority is the safety of your child. It is possible to end up in the water for a variety of reasons, both intentionally and accidentally, which is why wearing a life jacket is mandatory for sailing class. It is important that sailors are comfortable in the water, with and without a life jacket.

Where and when should I drop off and pick up my children?

For lessons at Hay Harbor, you should bring your junior sailor(s) down to the sailing shed approximately 5 minutes before class begins. If there is a class finishing up, please wait on the dock outside the shed until the other class has formally ended.

At the conclusion of class, parents can pick their junior sailors up at the sailing shed. If you are running late, a Junior Sailing Instructor will bring your junior sailor up to the HHC front office and wait with them on the porch, unless you have approved that they may take themselves to their next activity.

Please note that if you are a HHC member or a Yacht Club member with a child age 9 or under, a caregiver 14 or older must take the child to the sailing clinic and pick them up promptly at the end of the clinic.

For lessons at Fishers Island Yacht Club, classes assemble on the veranda outside the clubhouse approximately 5 minutes before the start of class. At the conclusion of class, once boats and sails are put away and the Sailing Instructor gives the thumbs up, junior sailors are free to leave.

Can I stay and watch my child sail?

Parents are always welcome to watch their children during lessons—from a distance. Our experience has been that most young sailors learn best when they can focus on their instruction without the distraction of a nearby parent. All of our Sailing Instructors are trained to run safe and fun classes and appreciate being able to do so without parental input during class. Please ask the Sailing Director if you have any questions.

Does my child need a boat to sign up for sailing lessons?

The answer is: it depends.

  • Novice I & II level sailors use Prams supplied by the program for their lessons.
  • Intermediate, Sailing Adventure and West Harbor Racing Optimist sailors can rent a boat for their use. (Please note: If you have a West Harbor Racing Optimist sailor, his or her boat will be at FIYC and not available to share with any siblings who are in Intermediate or Sailing Adventure classes.)
  • Open BIC and 420 sailors use boats provided by the program.

In order to optimally maintain all the sailing equipment as well as keep the sailing shed tidy, we require individually-owned boats to have all parts labeled properly, including name on stern.

Except during Novice lessons, a sailor is responsible for the damage caused by and to the boat on which he or she is skipper. There are prescribed rules for determining fault in all instances.

Sailors using HHC or FIYC boats are responsible for keeping the boat they use in good order and are also responsible for damage to the boat.  All sailors are responsible for the repair and maintenance of their boats.

Do we need to let you know if our child will be absent from class?

Yes, it is very helpful to know if your child will not be attending a particular class. Please call the HHC front office or the FIYC Sailing Office to let your instructor know. Please note that there is no refund or make-up for missed classes.

What should I do if I want to buy or sell an Optimist or Open BIC?

If you would like to buy or sell an Optimist or Open BIC, please contact Jonathan Farrar ( or Susan Crary ( The Club has a small number available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrangements should be made well before you arrive on the island.

Can I store my Optimist or Open BIC at the club over the winter?

Yes. If you have a boat which you are planning to store at the Club over the winter, please contact Jonathan Farrar to make arrangements in order to help keep accurate records of boats being stored.

My child’s sailing class ends at 9 AM, however their next lesson/IPP starts at 9 AM. It is OK to pick my child up a little early?

Unfortunately, no. We do our best to have the junior sailors finished and at the sailing shed for pick-up right at the end of class, but because of safety precautions and the fact that many times our sailors are out on the water until the very end of class, this is not always realistically possible.

It is raining, will there be class?

Yes. Sailing classes are not cancelled due to weather. There can be sailing in the rain. You should send a rain jacket with your child in these instances. They should also wear synthetic fabrics that dry quickly, as opposed to cotton which stays wet and cold longer. Your child will not be on the water if there are thunderstorms or conditions that would be unsafe or prevent effective learning. Even if there is no on-the-water sailing because of weather conditions, there are on­shore lessons that will be held in the Sailing shed or FIYC clubhouse.

Does everyone have to race?

No. Every junior sailor can choose whether they want to race or just sail recreationally. For some junior sailors, the competition of racing is a lot of fun, for others this is not the case. Some classes race regularly because it is a way to learn to sail no matter where one finishes. You can compare it to driving a car in an empty parking lot in contrast to driving on city streets. You can learn some skills in the parking lot, but eventually you will need to learn the rules of the road and how to turn at particular places. Sailboat racing requires planning a course and maneuvering to and around particular points while taking other boats into account.

What are “Friday Races”?

At HHC, Optimist sailors meet on Fridays and we hold races that all levels of sailors can participate in. This provides a practical application of the skills they are learning and is highly recommended.

What should I know about racing and regattas for my junior sailor?

Racing and Regattas

  • Boat Transportation – The HHC/FIYC sailing program assumes no liability for damage that occurs to a member’s boat while it is being transported to a regatta. Repair of incidental damage is the responsibility of the owner.
  • Class Schedules on Regatta Days – When the West Harbor Racing or 420 classes are attending a regatta, no class is held for those who choose not to attend the event. This does not apply to Intermediate and Sailing Adventure classes, which meet as scheduled.
  • No lessons are held the day of the annual Fishers Island Optimist Regatta or home regattas.
  • Regatta Entry Forms – Regatta entry forms distributed by the Sailing Instructors prior to a regatta must be completed and returned promptly to the instructor.
  • Regatta Fees – Sailors are responsible for paying the entry fees for regattas in which they participate. For a two-person boat, the entry fee is generally shared by the skipper and crew. If a sailor forgets to bring money for the entry fee, the fee will be paid by the program and billed to the sailor’s HHC or FIYC account.
  • Regatta Expenses – Any additional expenses incurred by sailors at regattas (i.e. lunch, ferry, private charter if participants arrive in New London after last ferry, land transportation) will be billed to the member directly.
  • Cancellation Policies for Sailing Regattas – Any questions concerning cancellation of a Regatta due to inclement weather, please call the Hay Harbor Office at (631) 788-7323 or Jonathan Farrar at (305) 720-8572.
  • Optional races are held on Friday afternoons from 1:15 pm – 3:30 pm at HHC for Intermediate classes and Sailing Adventure.
  • Optional races are held on Friday afternoons from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm at FIYC for West Harbor Racing and 420 sailing.

Can my child’s friend or relative come to sailing class?

No, guests are not allowed in normal sailing classes. However, they may be allowed to sign-up for lessons on a short-term basis. Please check with the FIYC Sailing Director for more information.

Are there private lessons?

Yes! Reach out to the Sailing Director and he will be happy to make arrangements.

What does it take to be an instructor?

HHC/FIYC Sailing Instructors take the US Sailing Level 1 Sailing Instructor course. This is an extensive course that covers everything needed to teach sailing, including risk management, learning styles, lesson plan development, conducting both land and on-­the-­water drills, and much more. US Sailing Level 1 certification also requires completion of a Red Cross First Aid course and a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety course. We actively seek continuing education for our instructors. For example, some have taken the Red Cross Basic Water Rescue course. Junior sailors over the age of 14 who are interested in becoming a Sailing Instructor will often serve as a Junior Instructor for the Novice classes while continuing to take advanced sailing classes at FIYC.

Any (other) Questions?

For scheduling questions, please contact the HHC front office at (631) 788-7323.
If you have any Sailing Program-related questions, please contact Jonathan Farrar, Sailing Director, at or (305) 720-8572.