At the club
For children ages 8 to 15, the Optimist is the ideal boat to introduce and develop sailing skills. It is the fastest growing junior class in New Zealand and worldwide it attracts large numbers of young sailors up to the age of 15 years. As a club, we are committed to the class’ continued growth here in New Zealand and each year we hold the Wellington Opti Champs. Worser Bay has grown to become the hub of Opti sailing in Wellington and we have a strong Optimist fleet in excess of 30 boats, with growing numbers in the ‘Learn to Sail’, Green Fleet and Open Fleet divisions. The 2015 Optimist National Championship will be held at Worser Bay Boating Club.
The ‘Green’ fleet is the first division that our young Optimist sailors encounter after completing a ‘Learn to Sail’ course. Through a high level of coaching and support they are able to learn the basics of fleet racing while under the watchful eye of coaches, their parents, and club members. The Green Fleet Guidelines can be found on the NZIODA website www.optimist.org.nz.
Once competent at Green fleet level, our sailors are encouraged to move into the ‘Open’ fleet division where they will compete against some of our more experienced Optimist sailors. The majority of the Open Fleet sailors compete at interclub and national level. There are four ranking regattas sailed around New Zealand each season.
Our Optimist sailors, in both Green and Open fleet divsions, are offered a mid-week coaching programme which runs throughout the season. The sailors learn to develop boat handling, boat tuning and tactical skills on the programme. It is run in small groups and is managed by a group of experienced coaches.
About the class
The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. Nowadays boats are usually made of fiber reinforced plastic, although wooden boats are still built.
It is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, with over 160,000 boats officially registered with the class and many more built but never registered.
The Optimist was designed in 1947 by American Clark Mills at the request of the Optimist International service club following a proposal by Major Clifford McKay to offer low-cost sailing for young people. He designed a simple pram that could be built from three sheets of plywood, and donated the plan to the Optimists. The design was slightly modified and introduced to Europe by the Dane, Axel Damsgaard, and spread outwards across Europe from Scandinavia. The design was standardized in 1960 and became a strict One-Design in 1995.