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50 Beach Road, Groton Long Point, CT 06340 | | +1 860 536 0242

Seashell Sailing

Seashell Sailing

(Not applicable for Summer 2020 due to Covid-19)

“Seashells” is the Youth Sailing Program at the Club, designed to introduce children (ages 5+) to sailing and to develop their basic sailing skills and knowledge. Seashell classes are held in the calm waters of the Inner Lagoon with instructor dinghies on the water for safety at all times. Students learn sailing techniques, racing rules, and basic knots in the security of an enclosed body of water. All students must wear life jackets. All classes meet at the Inner Lagoon.

Participants in the Seashell program sail either the traditional Seashells dinghy or Optimists (Optis), an easier-to-source and widely used one-design trainer.

D Class is for the youngest new sailors. Sailors must be age 5 and should be comfortable wearing a personal flotation device. This class will be held in the Club-owned Optimists and is designed to provide an orientation to sailing through both on-land and on-the-water activities. There is no need for students to pay an additional fee for use of the Club Optimists in D Class -- use of the boats is included in the price of D Class.

C Class is for the true beginner. Sailors must be age 6 and should be comfortable in the water wearing a personal flotation device. There are two to three children in each boat, a captain and one or two crew. This class works on familiarizing the children with basic sailing skills through the use of on-land drills and on-the-water practice sessions. Students can sail in either Seashells or Optimists in C Class.

B Class is designed for the novice to intermediate level sailors with two children per boat. Racing basics/fundamentals are taught, in addition to developing confidence on the water. Captains and crews work together to refine skills. B Class participates in races on Wednesdays and Saturdays and points are accrued for monthly trophies. Students can sail in either Seashells or Optimists in B Class.

A Class is the most competitive class in the Inner Lagoon, with one sailor per boat, handling both helm and sail. A Class also competes in races on Wednesdays and Saturdays and accrues points towards monthly trophies. The curriculum focuses on improving sailing skills, racing strategy, improving starts, tactics and the rules of racing. Students can sail in either Seashells or Optimists in A Class.


All Seashell dinghies used in our program are privately owned or rented. In addition to any privately owned or rented Optimists, the Yacht Club owns 10 Optimists which are available for a fee to A, B, and C Class students for in-class use. As mentioned above, the students in D Class will sail in the club-owned Optimists for no extra charge.

There are four ways to participate in the Seashell sailing program:
  1. Purchase a Seashell or Optimist,
  2. Rent a Seashell or Optimist from a private owner,
  3. Sign up for a class as a crew without a boat, or
  4. Pay an additional fee for use of a Club-owned Optimists during A, B or C Class (no extra charge for D-Class).
To reiterate, Yacht Club Optimists will not be for rent; for an additional fee, they will be available for in-class use. Please see the usage agreement below. Once you register for Seashell Class A, B, or C, you will see the Opti option and will be able to sign up for the class usage.

Students in B and C Classes who do not have a boat and who have not subscribed to use a Club-owned Optimist will be matched with another student with a privately owned or rented boat on a best efforts basis subject to availability. While some sailors may have paired themselves up before classes start, we make every effort to ensure every participant has a boat in which to sail. In the rare event we are not able to match students, we will refund class fees. If you have questions about this process, please email us at Our office staff maintains a spreadsheet of boat owners and crews, and may be able to help you with a pairing before the season starts.

We also have a “Boat Sales/Rentals” forum under the "Member Resources" tab on the website (available only when logged in). Please use this (and/or the bulletin board in the Casino) if you are looking to buy, sell, or rent a Seashell or Optimist.

Completion of the Seashell Statement of Understanding is required for participation in the Seashell program. Both Seashells and Optimists require a sticker, which will be available in the Yacht Club office upon completion of the Storm Plan. Both these forms will be emailed to participants after registration. They can also be found by clicking on the form name below, reviewed, completed, and emailed to

During class registration registrants will be prompted to accept Seashell Statement of Understanding