A Beginner's Guide to Sailing Cadet Week

Cadet Week is essentially a weeklong regatta crammed full of races for the more experienced cadets, whilst younger attendees engage in a wide range of training, games and social events. There’s really no set syllabus or training schedule, it’s more of an excuse to get as many people out on the water having fun, building confidence, making friends, and improving overall sailing skills. 

Before we go any further, it’s probably a good idea to define what a ‘cadet’ is within the wide world of sailing. It’s one of two things. The first being a class of sailing dinghy designed to be sailed by two children up to the age of 17. The second, is a term used to describe a newbie sailor at a yacht club that’s under the age of 18 (the sailing ‘grom’ if you will), who is literally ‘learning the ropes’. So for Cadet Week, you’re likely to see cadets sailing Cadets… If that makes sense. 

Who is it for?

Most Cadet Weeks are members only, tailored to younger cadets (aged up to 18) within local yacht clubs. However, if you or someone you know fits the bill but isn’t part of a club - it’s a great opportunity to get involved. Simply contact your local yacht club and ask if they have any plans over Cadet Week, usually held from 31st July - 4th August. There will be a bunch of social events to get to know your fellow cadets, and even some friendly competitions to put your newly acquired sailing techniques to the test.  


What happens at Cadet Week?

Cadets are usually split into groups or ‘fleets’ (not a nautical pun) depending on age and experience. On top of this, you may be assigned a wider team to compete for - similar to houses at a school sports day. At the end of the week, there will then be a prize giving to celebrate group wins and individual achievements - all good fun. 

Each day is spent racing, learning on the job and improving skills, as well as getting stuck into a load of games on and off the water. Some yacht clubs will even provide catering and evening events for all the family, so (this one is a nautical pun, sorry) it’s always best to throw yourself into as much as you can. 

The only real difference will depend on your experience. Older cadets will usually compete in a series of races across the week, whilst the younger cadets will be honing their skills a little closer to shore. This will involve water safety, which is a key part of everyone’s journey into sailing and something we take very seriously here at Wetsuit Outlet. 

The boats will also differ, with younger cadets getting to grips with the Optimist - a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for anyone up to the age of 15. For intermediate sailors, you’re likely to get your hands on a Laser Pico, which is a perfect training boat built specifically for family fun. The Feva and RS200 (or equivalent) are then reserved for the more experienced seafarers. 


How do you join?

As previously touched upon, you will usually have to be a member of the yacht club to attend. But it’s always best to reach out to your local yacht or sailing club to get a better idea of what’s required. Many clubs offer a range of memberships to include single person, cadet, and even family packages to suit. Dates may also vary slightly, but a good rule of thumb is that most Cadet Weeks will run over the first week of the school summer holiday. 


What do you need for Cadet Week?

It really depends on your personal preference, but we think it’s always good to be a little over prepared. Some staples not to forget would be a water bottle, some form of sun protection, a cap, a dry bag for valuables, towel poncho, and many many snacks. But what about sailing gear you ask? Well, it’s time to break it down.


If you’re after a few bits to get you started on your sailing journey, we recommend a rash vest, buoyancy aid, wetsuit, and wetsuit boots. This is an ideal starter kit for young seafarers, as it’s a nice set of multi-use gear that you can use for kayaking, paddle boarding, or even just a quick dip in the ocean. But if you’re unsure on the kit required, it might be best to give our expert team a call on 01702 295678 or read our Dinghy Sailing Clothing Guide.


If you’re looking to step up your sailing, or just after a few apparel pieces to brighten up the boat yard, we’ve got you covered. Musto and Helly Hansen are both great options here, especially if you’re out to complete the set. We’ve got a wide range of shore wear that’s perfectly suited to downtime between sessions, or social events into the evening. But if your mind is set on time trials and races, then be sure to check out Optimum Time’s wide range of specialist sport watches.    


If you’re a veteran Cadet Week attendee, you might be wanting to expand your gear whilst picking up a few key investment pieces. This is a great time to think about sailing into the colder months, where more technical outerwear might be required. We recommend Zhik, the athlete-approved, gold medal winning brand based in Australia. These guys know a thing or two when it comes to high-tech performance gear - providing wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets, jackets and more to some of the top sailors in the world.


There we have it. Our rundown of what to expect at this year’s Cadet Week, with a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your time in and around the water. To shop the full dinghy sailing range, click here. Or if you need a little more info on how to get started in sailing, check out our Beginners Guide: How to Get into Sailing.

Updated on 10th July 2023

Originally published on 6th July 2023 in Sailing

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