Packing a Sailing Duffel for Small-Boat Winter One-Design Racing

If you’re lucky enough to sail in a vibrant small-boat one-design class, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have the opportunity to take a trip down south over the winter for some racing. Classes including Lasers, Snipes, Lightnings, Vipers, and Thistles all enjoy regattas and clinics in Florida in January, February, and March. 

Are you headed down to enjoy some small-boat racing that doesn’t involve wetsuits or drysuits? Packing boat and sails can be a complex part of the adventure, but remember that you—as skipper or crew—are a critical part of how the program works, too. Making sure you have what you need to sail at your best is important. As you pull together your sailing gear and off-the-water clothes, be sure to include key items.

Coconut Grove Sailing Club looks inviting to a Chesapeake sailor in February, but bring a winter hat just in case it gets nippy.

Life jacket and sailing boots and shoes.

Sailing clothes are a little bit easier to come by, either by buying on site (many down south regattas are in locations with good gear/clothing stores) or borrowing from a friend. But lifejackets and sailing footwear tend to be pricey and very personal. Knowing my life jacket fits just so and that my boots are the right size to keep me feeling connected to the boat are critical to how I feel sailing. Definitely make room for these.


Yeah, I know. That sun sure feels good after hibernating for a few months. And yes, a certain amount of sun-provided Vitamin D is good for you. But sunburns and skin cancer aren’t. Be sure to tuck a bottle of your favorite sunscreen in your bag. I tend to bring two bottles—one for body, one for face. Last year I splurged on some Coola brand sunscreen for my face (and lip balm too!) and loved it. It worked well, felt light, and even smelled nice. 

Winter hat.

A bit of a non sequitur after the previous item, but trust me on this one. You can wear sunscreen and a winter hat at the same time! Florida can be nice and warm, but in January and February (and heck, even March farther north in the state), it can get downright chilly if a cold front sweeps through. You may not ever use it, but a winter hat stored in a zippered plastic bag to keep it dry can really be a lifesaver if the temperature drops when you’re on the water. Hats are light and take up very little room. Pick a fun one, and make people laugh!

Nutrition and hydration needs.

Yes, part of the fun of regattas down south is catching up with sailing friends from across the country over a beer after sailing. But most of these regattas are a few days long—so for success on the water, you need to be sure to take care of yourself. It will likely be hotter and more humid than our mid-Atlantic winter, so your body will not be used to how things feel, and a sweaty you means a you that needs to be hyperaware of being hydrated. (Imagine if you just plopped yourself right into a Chesapeake July!) Exerting yourself on the water can be tiring; your preparation for the next day of sailing starts as soon as you hit shore. To make sure I have what I need, I bring lots of Hammer Nutrition’s Endurolytes Fizz (tablets you put in water bottles to help with good hydration) and Recoverite (the right blend of carbohydrates and protein for after-exercise recovery) with me. 

Another bag.

Be sure to pack a day bag in your bigger travel bag so you can trek your stuff to and from the regatta site every day without having to use your big airport wheely bag!
Let’s start making plans and packing bags! I’ll see you down south... 

by Kim Couranz