Sailing Director and Staff

Sailing Director – Maxwell Plarr​

After leading the Christopher Newport University Varsity Sailing Team eight years, head coach Maxwell Plarr has accepted the new Sailing Director position for Hampton Yacht Club in February of 2020. Coach Plarr was a three-time Team MVP and four-time All-Academic Sailor as an undergrad for Christopher Newport University. Maxwell began instructing junior program teams for HYC, GPYC, and the Navy’s MWR. After college Plarr lived and sailed in Australia prior to taking the head coach role at CNU. During his tenure as head coach of the CNU team, the Captains competed in their first ICSA Women’s National Championship and two ICSA Singlehanded National Championships. His sailors hold such accolades as MAISA Undergraduate South Representatives, MAISA Undergraduate President, ICSA Undergraduate Vice-President, Purrington Award recipient, MAISA All-Academic Team, ICSA All-Academic Team, and MAISA Sportsman of the Year.

Maxwell lives in Little England in Hampton, Virginia with his wife Lexy and dog, Cooper, who you may find to greet you with a wagging tail at the sailing center. Max is an avid sailor, fisherman, and cyclist in his spare time. The new director is a US Sailing Certified Level III Coach and a Level I Instructor Trainer that plans to bring US Sailing models and methods to enhance all areas of sailing and power boating at Hampton Yacht Club from juniors to the most ancient mariner. The new sailing director has a vision that is focused on safety, education, and fun! Besides his daily duties of junior and adult sailing he will be planning clinics and will make himself available to any member seeking advice or knowledge with listed office hours. Maxwell started his position by traveling to the US Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, CA to network and learn the latest strategies to implement into club programming at the highest contemporary levels. Maxwell is settling into the position by professionalizing the spaces in the Adult and Junior Buildings to maximize classroom, storage, and office space capabilities. There is much to be done and volunteers will be crucial to help in the process. The summer is rapidly approaching and the sailing director is keen to develop a rewarding, fun, and competitive and/or exploration experience for all junior members planning to participate in the summer program. There will be a youth panel and a parent interest meeting announced soon coupled with an evening of Virtual Regatta Game Night for junior members. Please help us in making this one of the best summers for our young sailors! Maxwell can be reached at

The club’s Junior Sailing Program has produced racing champions at different levels of sailing worldwide. Many of these individuals have maintained their relationship with the Club since their sailing beginnings in our Junior Program. HYC promotes all levels of sailing from Club owned fleets of Optimists, RS Fevas, 420s, and Sonars, through One Design Racing and a strong PHRF racing circuit. Our members are also active in powerboat and sail cruising. HYC holds numerous well run and attended regattas from small One Design classes to big boats such as Southern Bay Race Week and the prestigious Down the Bay Race.

Meet Tom – Summer 2019 Head Instructor

Tom Etheridge is a Norfolk native and started his sailing career at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, where he learned how to sail and race.  After outgrowing Optis, he moved into Lasers and in 6th grade joined the Maury High School sailing team.  While studying naval architecture and marine engineering at the University of Michigan, Tom was a two-time captain of the sailing team and competed in the collegiate co-ed fleet, team race, keelboat and match race national championship regattas.  Since graduating in 2016, Tom has coached the Maury and Norfolk Academy high school teams and the NYCC Opti Race Team. Tom was our Summer Head Instructor and has coached HYC’s Fall and Winter Race programs. He is US Sailing Level 1 certified.

Meet Anna – Summer 2019 Instructor

Anna Patterson is a Hampton native who learned how to sail and race when she began sailing for Hampton High School in eighth grade. She was an active participant on HYC’s C420 race team until 2016. She is currently a junior at Christopher Newport University where she is one of the captains of the varsity sailing team. At CNU, she drives A Division for the women’s team and crews for the coed and team racing teams. Beyond college sailing, she is a crew in HYC’s 505 fleet and competed in the 2017 505 World Championships in Annapolis, Maryland, as an all female team. This summer she plans to attend the 2019 505 Canadian Nationals and 2019 505 North American Championships in Kingston, ON. She has worked as a junior and adult sailing instructor at Hampton Yacht Club since 2016 and is US Sailing Small Boat Instructor Level 1 Certified.

Meet Alesha – Summer 2019 Instructor

Alesha Darling is from Chesapeake, Virginia. Alesha is a rising senior studying Psychology at Christopher Newport University where she is a member of the varsity sailing team. Alesha learned to sail Opti’s when she was eight at Hampton Yacht Club and continued sailing on keel boats and sunfish with her father till she reached college and stepped into 420’s and FJs. Alesha is excited for her second summer instructing at HYC. She is US Sailing Level 1 certified. 

Meet Cole – Summer 2019 Instructor

Cole Handly is a returning certified US Sailing Level 1 instructor who makes learning fun and exciting for his sailors.  He is a Hampton native and has been raised on the water.  Cole has grown up sailing Lasers, Sunfish, Opti’s, c420’s, and FJ’s.   Cole has been sailing on his high school team for 4 years now and is a starting skipper. Cole plans to attend Roanoke college to study business and entrepreneurship to pursue a career in creating his own company. We are excited to have Cole for another summer at HYC.

Meet Spike – Summer 2019 Instructor

Spike Douglass was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and grew up overseas in Doha, Qatar.  He learned to sail when he was in the sixth  grade. After learning to sail and race in Lasers and RS Fevas, he became a part-time instructor at his local sailing club, Regatta Sailing Academy. After working there for five years, he came to CNU and is majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the CNU Varsity Sailing team. Spike is certified under the Royal Yachting Association as a Dinghy Instructor. Spike looks forward to his first year teaching at HYC.