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With both the football Orange Bowl and the real Orange Bowl going on, I got to thinking about Junior Sailing and how classes and programs have evolved since I went through more than a decade ago. Is it headed in the right direction? Are we using the right boats? Are we setting kids up for success whose names are not Melges or Cayard? In the U.S., kids usually start out in Optis at six or seven, and either outgrow the boat around 100lbs or age out at fifteen. High School sailing is almost exclusively done in Club 420's, and high school freshmen are 13-15, while seniors are 17-19. When I coached I tried to put together 250lb combined crews, and it seems like few 420 crews weigh more than 300lbs or less than about 230. College Sailing, with a few exceptions, is done in Club FJ's, Club 420's, and Lasers/Radials. CFJ's have a lower competitive crew weight than 420's, and the high end for Laser sailors in the U.S. seems to be about 185lbs unless you live in the Gorge. A slew of classes exist as the "trainers" or "junior equivalent" of Olympic and ISAF classes: e.g. the i420 is supposed to be the feeder for 470's, the 29er/29erXX is supposed to be the pipeline to 49er/49er FX, the Nacra 15 is supposed to be the trainer for the Nacra 17, etc. What is the entry point for a 12-year old Opti kid to go down the 29er track, or the i420 track? I remember outgrowing the Opti pretty quick and spent a couple summers in FJ's before I got my first Laser a few months before my 13th birthday, but I'm also bigger than the average bear. Laser 4.7's don't really exist in Detroit at least, so what should former Opti kids sail before they're at the 110-140lbs for the Radial? Should they sail 420's first? At what point do you pull them out of the 420 and into the Radial, or do you let them keep going down that path? How do you prevent kids from becoming "skipper-only" or "crew-only" dinghy sailors? In MISSA, there are half a dozen kids on the big teams who do great roll tacks and call wind shifts and are extremely helpful to their skippers, but for whatever reason won't touch the tiller unless they have to. I've seen this continue into college as well, how good a sailor is someone who started crewing on 420's in high school, and now is a college graduate with eight years of 420 crewing experience? With foiling and multihulls, what's the entry point into that pipeline? Seems like the UFO and the Waszp are targeted as entry-level/club-level foilers to get you into the game cheaper than a used Moth, but plenty of Mothies have never touched a Waszp. I'd think that a kid who knows how to trap and fly a kite would be able to adapt to the Nacra 15, so do you end up scalping kids from the 29er->49er pipeine to do that? Seems like there are lots of great boats coming along that kids could enjoy and which will endure as OD classes, like the RS Aero. Should clubs start buying Aeros and 5/7/9 rigs so both the newly liberated Opti kids can play with the post-Laser/pre-Finn size boys? What about asymmetric hiking dinghies like the RS Feva or the Topaz Vibe? The Bic O'pen was supposed to be a nice transition out of the Opti, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What are kids sailing out of college? The Zim 15 was supposed to be the ticket for that, but besides for a promotional video and one race I haven't seen anything happen. How do you expose high school and college aged kids to the "real" classes that we sail, and keep them in the sport? When was the last time you saw anyone older than 22 in a 420?
Looking for an altruistic soul with personal experience launching and/or administering a community or school youth sailing program who would be willing to share their work product. Specifically, a budget and/or a pitch deck. As costs vary by region, resources, and aspiration, I'm more interested in defining the budgetary line items than the dollar figures attached to them; I would be happy to have a file even with the numbers stripped out. Volunteering my time to help my kids's school develop a sailing program based on Oppys. (No Oppy-hating, please.)
No stupid questions, just stupid people as the saying goes... anyway: What is the difference between a new optisail and well used one? The sails are so teeny and the stresses relatively lower than any other sails, I can't imagine that much change with use. And a follow up question, why aren't sails in a starter class like this, which would hopefully be economic, not be regulated sails under class rules to 1) be overbuilt and last a long time, or 2) cheap af & disposable to facilitate ease of access. If you're already racing a slow af one design class why beat the ass with perfect expensive sails and not cheap shitty/overbuilt long lasting ones? FFS, opti sails cost 200-600$, do ya'll like riding a sawzaw like a lover?
While in a conversation with a friend about how inferior the optimist is to the sabot (I live in California), we began to wonder how the opti spread along the east coast and how it ever replaced the sabot. It's crazy to me that people would use a boat with such a small sail in the light California breeze. But somehow it happened. So how did it happen? I'm really curious how the opti got to be as popular as it did. Thanks guys!