R.I.O.T Program

Rhode Island’s Optimist Team (RIOT)

R.I.O.T. - Rhode Island Opti Team

Rhode Island’s Optimist Team will ramp back up in Mid-March and run through Sail Newport’s Youth Challenge Regatta, hosted on the first weekend of June. Focused on small group skill building through drills and scrimmaging, this is a proven program that takes advantage of all that Sail Newport has to offer. Our award winning facility is a perfect cold weather sailing headquarters, we recruit top-notch coaches, and attract like-minded, dedicated Optimist sailors in the region to come together to raise their game!

Sail Newport R.I.O.T. Practices

With a max of 7:1 sailor to coach ratio, all sailors will get lots of attention and coaching feedback. Our coaching staff continues to evolve, but expect a mix of young and experienced talent dedicated to help Optimist sailors progress in the sport. Fun, safety, and learning to play the game the right way will be our priority. Some of our past regular coaches include:

  • Nick Ewenson
  • Luke Ingalls
  • Lisa Downey
  • Caden Buckley
  • Rich Feeney
  • Meg Myles and more.

Opti sailors will learn:

  • Boat handling techniques
  • Tactics and strategy
  • Regatta preparation and participation management
  • Conditioning and more

Practices are held at the Sail Newport Sailing Center, in Fort Adams State Park.

Training is offered for experienced optimist sailors with at least a season of green fleet regatta experience. The practice days are more structured and rigorous than a typical summer program schedule. While fun is a critical component of the racing program, we emphasize learning new skills, challenging the sailor, and developing a commitment to the sport.

Sailors need to be ready to train for two long sessions a practice, and have the reliable equipment to keep them safe in all conditions.

Skill groups are organized to enable us to work most efficiently on moving from Green fleet to Team Trials Qualified. Most practices have portions in smaller skill groups and combined group training as well.

Green Fleet is usually not offered in the Spring. If there is enough demand, we would be happy to pull together a weekend clinic or two in late May. Contact Nick Ewenson if you’re interested.
Champ Silver

Minimum age is 10 years old.

  • Strong green fleet and champ fleet sailors
  • Experience sailing in local and possibly regional regattas
  • Will spend quality time working on technical skills
  • Aspires to sail national-level events in 2021
Champ Gold

Minimum age is 10 years old.

  • Not TTQ yet
  • Typically two seasons of Champ Fleet experience, and regional regatta experience
  • Aspires to sail national-level events in 2021
  • Aspires to qualify for Team Trials
  • Qualified for Team Trials/or have been qualified in the past
  • Trying to qualify for national team and International regattas

We will practice in small groups, focusing on technical skills and strategy in the morning, with larger group racing drills in the afternoons. Arrive at 0900 and depart at 1600.

A typical practice will have all sailors arrive at the same time and place in their respective groups. Parents will leave and sailors are expected to get rigged and readied in a timely manner on their own. Coaches will be on hand to ensure everyone is set up for success on the day, there will be a pre-training briefing, and a morning on-the-water session in a small group. In the spring, a quick lunch and warmup happens back at headquarters around midday. For the afternoon, we’ll head back out on the water and perhaps combine groups to create repeatable racing scenarios in larger numbers. The day always gets a debrief back in our smaller skill-based groups.

Sail Newport’s Youth Challenge on June 5th and 6th will be RIOT’s only regatta this spring.

RIOT trains Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 4pm from March 20th through the Sail Newport Youth Challenge the first weekend of June. Purchase a punch card and reup as necessary to fit your training program to work for you.

We use a punch card system to give flexibility for when and how much sailors can train, but we will create stable groups based on skill level and rely on timely commitment through Team Snap to ensure we have appropriate coaching coverage. (See Practice Rosters and Communications)

Team Snap is an integral part of making our punch card system work. In order to ensure we have appropriate coverage for each practice, sailors must communicate their commitment to weekend training by Noon the Monday before. We use Team Snap’s Availability feature to lock in the roster for each practice five days in advance. Sailors must register and pay before sailing through the online link at the bottom of this page and always keep a positive amount of practices remaining. While efforts will be made to accommodate last-minute requests for changes to selected dates, it is not guaranteed and there are no refunds for missed or unused days. Purchased practices do not roll over into following seasons or other Sail Newport programming.

*Covid 19 considerations spring 2021: A full refund will be issued in the instance a sailor is unable to participate as a result of considerations from Covid 19 (i.e. a positive test within the household, travel restrictions). This policy will be updated to reflect changes in Covid 19 guidelines by state and federal authorities as necessary.

All messaging and announcements will be made through TeamSnap. Once a sailor is registered and the program fee is paid, parents will receive an invitation to join TeamSnap.

Visit the R.I.O.T. Facebook page.

Sailors are required to wear gear appropriate for what can be the coldest sailing season of the year. Appropriate dry-suits or wetsuits may be required for the Spring season. Hats, gloves and boots are required, and warm clothes to change into make for more productive debriefs! PFDs must be US Coast Guard approved!


Sail Newport has a limited number of charters available. These are race ready Optimists complete with race sails, dollies, deck covers and storage bags. Storage of hulls is complementary with RIOT registration, however spars, sails, and blades may need to stay in charterer’s responsibility. Season charters cost $250 and will be invoiced separately.

Contact Nick Ewenson to reserve.

Sail Newport is committed to providing the opportunity for people to participate in sailing programs regardless of economic status. Admittance to all programs is “need-blind,” and should you decide to apply for Financial Aid, that will not be a factor in our decision to enroll your child or children in a program.

Sail Newport Financial Aid guidelines

  1. It is a confidential process. Your information is not shared with any other entity.
  2. Participants who are awarded partial or full financial assistance are expected to attend at least 75% of the class or program for which the assistance is awarded.
  3. For families who receive partial financial assistance, any balance due will be required to be paid at least 30 days prior to the start of the class/program.
  4. Sail Newport is a 501(c)3 not-profit organization and relies on volunteer support for many of its programs and events. Financial assistance recipients are encouraged to support Sail Newport through volunteer hours. To volunteer, please visit our volunteer page.

How to apply for Financial Aid

During the registration process for RIOT, you will be given the option to:

  • Pay in full
  • Apply for Financial Aid (When choosing this option, you will be taken to a simple and confidential form.)

Financial Awards

  • Will be made within 2-3 weeks of your application.
  • You will receive a confidential letter in the mail from Brad Read, Executive Director, outlining any award and any partial program fees that will be due.

Again, your child’s participation in this program will not be reliant on whether or not you apply for financial aid. You have our commitment on that!

If you have questions about Financial Aid please email Brad Read, Executive Director or call (401) 846-1983.


Have questions?

Contact Nick Ewenson, Race Program Director

Phone: (401) 846-1983
Email: nick.ewenson@sailnewport.org