Fenwick Sailing
Fenwick Sailing
Est. Spring 2016



WHAT’S A 420?

High School sailing typically occurs in a two-person boat with two sails called a 420 – so named for its overall length in centimeters (4.2 meters). This type of craft is mainly used in high school and college sailing programs. Our regattas or races are always held on weekends and mainly take place in the Chicago metropolitan area. Regattas consists of multiple races (usually 20-25), each lasting 15-20 minutes.  Each boat is manned by two people: skipper (who sits in the rear and steers the course) and crew (who sits toward the bow and controls the front sail). For simplicity, each race consists a boat sailing two laps around two established race marks (floating buoys). Scores are based on fastest finish of the course. Penalties may be issued for non-compliance with rules.

Our emphasis is on mastering sailing skills in a variety of conditions, collaboration with friendly competition and safety while on the water.


Regattas (sailing races) come in two varieties: Fleet Racing and Team Racing.  Fleet racing is the classic version of sailboat competition, in which there is a two-division format designated as “A” and “B” divisions. At a given fleet racing regatta, a minimum of 4 total sailors from each school is required for participation. The goal is for each boat to perform at its best. Sailors may be substituted within a boat throughout the regatta. A boat’s final ranking is determined by the sum of its finishes. Scoring is computed by finishing position (for example 1st place = 1 point) minus any deductions for penalties. Each school’s A and B division scores are calculated in aggregate The lowest score wins! Team racing is a newer format of sailing competition. The main difference is that only two schools (each with three boats- minimum 6 total sailors per school) compete at a time. The winning school for a given race is determined by the sum of its three boats’ finishes. Over the duration of the regatta, every school will compete against every other team at least once. At the close, the school with the lowest overall score wins.

Typically, fall racing is a longer season, often blessed with warmer weather conditions and is primarily fleet racing. Spring racing is a shorter season and always delivers a bit of excitement and challenge weather-wise with cooler water temperatures and variable winds. During the spring, drysuits are required for competition and suggested for practices.

Who Can Join the Team?

Fenwick Sailing is an inclusive co-ed sport—we practice and compete together as a team! Students should be in good standing in grades 9-12.

When Do We Sail?

High School sailing is a two season (Fall and Spring) sport. A student may sail for one or both seasons.

Spring- Mid-March through Memorial Day

Fall- Labor Day through Mid-November

A student may select which practices to attend depending on his or her schedule preferences and level of experience. Practice sessions are offered during the week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (4.00-6.30 pm) for more experienced sailors, and on Monday and Friday (4.00-6.30 pm), and Saturday (9.00am -4.00 pm – considered a double) for beginning sailors. If you have schedule conflicts, it is possible to attend practices on days that work for you. It is suggested that students participate in at least two practices per week to develop and advance skills.

Where Do We Sail?

Columbia Yacht Club – 111 N Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Il 60601. Columbia provides eighteen 420 boats available for its affiliated high school teams to sail. This allows 36 sailors to be on the water at any one practice. Each sailor registers through Columbia individually.

Other teams sailing out of Columbia: University of Chicago Lab School (varsity), Beacon Academy (varsity), Lane Tech College Prep, Lions Township, Jones College Prep and Trinity.

For more information: visit  www.Columbiayachtclub.org or call 312.938.3625

Coaching staff: Kurt Thomsen (head coach) and Katie Tinder (assistant coach)

How Do I Get to Practice?

Families and Sailors arrange transportation to and from practices and regattas. Carpools are typically available within the team. Some members utilize public transportation (the Blue Line El or Metra) as well.

Is There Practice if the Weather is Bad?

We all know that Chicago weather can change from hour to hour. While safety is our top priority, our coaches try to get the sailors on the water as much as possible.  If the weather is not cooperating, sailors will participate in indoor chalk talks or informal lectures that review technique and sailing strategy. At the beginning of the season, the coaching staff will begin by presenting basic skills and safety chalk talks for all members.

What If I Play Another Sport  during the Sailing Season?

The commitment needed to practice and compete on a high school sailing team is similar to the commitment required to practice and compete in any other sport. Therefore, it is suggested that Sailing team members practice and compete only during a season in which they are not registered in another sport. Exceptions are possible, but are made on an individual basis after discussion and consent from both sports’ coaching staffs.

How Does High School Sailing Work?

For fleet racing, a minimum of 4 sailors is needed to compete. It is advisable to also have additional members present because team member substitution is possible and unforeseen circumstances such as illness can arise. There are two divisions (designated as ‘A’ and ‘B’) which are each assigned one boat (two sailors per boat). After ‘A’ division sailors complete two races, the ‘B’ division sailors rotate in and sail the next two races. This process is repeated as many times as conditions permit throughout the regatta. Each race typically takes 15-20 minutes.  For more information, visit the MISSA

(Midwest Interscholastic Sailing Association) website at http://missa.hssailing.org.

How Do Regattas work?

For regattas that Fenwick wishes to attend, the parent moderator group and faculty moderator will register the team, keeping in mind deadlines. Some regattas require additional liability/participation waivers that individual sailors will need to complete. While most regattas are open to registration, others are subject to qualification (only top teams go). Regatta schedules are posted at http://missa.hssailing.org.

Notice of Race (NOR) can be found on the same MISSA website under the “Schedule Tab”. The NOR informs families of the event details including location, cost, style of the event, contact information, etc.

Real time team scores can be found on scores.hssailing.org

What If I Just Want to Learn to Sail and Not Race?

Fenwick Sailing supports the goals of all of its members! Teammates who wish to build skills are not required to race and will find that certain practices are more suited toward development.  These sessions are determined by the Columbia coaching staff and may vary from season to season. Outside of school, participation in area summer sailing programs at Columbia and other organizations can be a great introduction to the sport.

Sailing Equipment

All gear will be obtained by the sailor. Type 3 US Coast Guard approved life jacket, spray gear (waterproof jacket and pants), gloves, boots, as well as a drysuit (if participating in spring sailing). A limited number of drysuits may be available through Columbia for rent.

Where Do I Get My Equipment and Gear?

Crowley’s Yacht Yard Lakeside Chicago, IL:  www.crowleys.com Contact person: Phil Pollard phil@crowleys.com 773-221-9990

West Marine (1160 N. HalstedChicago, IL) www.westmarine.com 312.255.1464

Line Honors (Lake Geneva, WI) www.linehonors.com

You can also find new and used gear on the web.

For More Information- 

email fenwicksailing@gmail.com