Sailing Regattas Continue Pensacola’s Racing Heritage

Pensacola Yacht Club to host 2018 Optimist US Nationals

Since the Spanish first landed here in 1559 and later pirates hid in Perdido Bay, the Pensacola Bay Area has been a natural playground for sailing and racing. With numerous yacht clubs serving the area and junior sailing programs that teach the next generation of sailors, sailing regattas in the Pensacola area bring the best competition from the region.

Now returning after an event in 2015, The United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) has selected Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) to host their 2018 Optimist Nationals. This will be a week-long sailing spectacular on Pensacola Bay showcasing the nation’s best International Optimist Dinghy sailors 8-15 years old.

The event is three championships— the overall Optimist National Championship, the Optimist Girls National Championship and the Optimist Team Race National Championship. There will be Green Fleet coaching and racing for beginners, too.

Racing is scheduled for July 15-22, 2018. Practice racing will be offered the week before and with PYC’s US Sailing Junior Olympic sailing festival earlier in July.

This year, in a change from previous years, the overall Opti National Championship will lead the schedule July 15 - 18. The Optimist Girls National Championship will be July 19 and the Optimist Team Nationals will wrap up the action July 20 - 22. Prizes will be awarded after each event. Registration is Saturday, July 14.

Participants are urged to make hotel or rental reservations early because this is ‘high season’ in Pensacola and the very popular “Blue Angles” summer airshow at the beach is Saturday, July 14.

Organizers expect between 350 to 450 young sailors, one coach per 10 participants, plus the sailor’s parents and family. The promotion of the event urges— “Bring the whole Family for a Florida Beach Vacation.” Pensacola Yacht Club expects Northwest Florida to host more than 1500 people for the week.

Pensacola YC hosted the Optimist Nationals Championship in 2015. The turnout boasted 323 young sailors entered for the week with an economic impact of over $1.2 million for the Pensacola metro area.

Under the direction of Hal Smith, PYC’s Fleet Captain and Principal Race Officer (PRO), many of the 115 volunteers, Race Committee and Race Officers from 2015 will be back with that experience behind them to help run a first-class regatta that will once again showcase PYC and the Pensacola area as a choice area for future international regattas.

All qualified Opti sailors, not just sailors from the USA, are invited to come to beautiful NW Florida for great sailing in the National Championship in Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola Yacht Club is waiting with warm water, warm hospitality, lots of cool fun and big plans for a fantastic regatta.