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mickymau5

Optimist History

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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!

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Fuck knows, they are horrible little shitters. Kids in those pigs spend more time bailing than sailing. Outdated hull and rig, slow, nothing good to say about them.

Unfortunately more kids sail them than anything else but then they drive huge numbers of kids from the sport because of the way they run them as a super competitive racing class rather than what they were intended to be; a basic training boat.

 

BTW, if you want to see Ugly Sport Parent Syndrome up close, rock up to any Optimist Regatta.

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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!

Opti is way cheaper than the Sabot and presents smaller barriers to entry for parents considering entering the sport.

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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!

Opti is way cheaper than the Sabot and presents smaller barriers to entry for parents considering entering the sport.
Was that true of the US Sabot?

 

Is it still true in AUS?

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So let's look at the optimist.

 

Is there better boats than the Opti ? Yes, I can talk to 10 different parents from all around the world and get 10 different better designs in their eyes.

 

Is it a bath tub when full of water ? Yes and so are other boats as well.

 

So why does the optimist work over so many other designs ? Its like the laser. It's simply to sail, but to sail it well takes some skill.

 

So let's look at the Opti.

 

Design - when the class first got started it was cheap to build and dad could build it at home. Great way to start a fleet

Cost of the boats - the Opti is a cheap boat to buy and they hold a good resale price. I've seen other classes cost $15 k to build a new boat and the Opti costs under $5 k. After all the class is a jounor starting class.

Sailing - it's a safe boat for beginners to sail and yes it's a bath tub when it capsizes. The thing is the more you sail it the better you get at moving your weight to balance the boat. The good kids don't capsize that much. My daughter has been sailing 4 years and only capsizes a hand full of times in trailing.

Fleet sizes - at the Australian nationals we get fleets of 220 + boats and even at some smaller regattas we get 50 + boats. In Australia we used to have different fleets in each state and the sabot Australian title was really only a east coast title. We now have kids from every state and territory sailing in our fleets and they now travel more to different regattas.

 

Fleets around the world - I can take my children to most major countries and they can sail a optimist with other kids.

Worlds - when it comes to the worlds, if my kid makes the Australian team of the top 5 in Australia then she gets the chance to race the top kids from all over the world.

 

As for the sailing parents in Opti's and sailing in general - have you been to a teams sports matches lately ? Our parents in sailing are mostly better than other sports.

 

So is there better boats for our kids to sail than the Opti ? In my eyes the Opti is a great boat for what it is, a jounor beginners class.

 

In Others eyes their may be better classes around than the optimist, this thing is what other classes have the numbers that the optimist have around the world ?

 

Pulpit

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Success of a class is seldom about the boat itself, it is about the people involved in the class and its organization. At the local level its about having a group of similar boats with parents who want to support sailing for their kids. It does not have to be competitive sailing to be fun. It really doesn't matter which boat you choose.

 

Some people want to compete and do so beyond their local venue. If that is what the kids (and parents) want, then there really is no more dedicated, stronger, and better run organization in this country than the USODA. You will find some parents that are jerks and a PITA, but mostly you will find parents that care about their kids and contribute to every one having a good time and a good experience. In the hands of an 8 to 15 year old, the boats are highly maneuverable and build confidence in one's abilities on the water. They can be self rescued, but a capsize will cost many places, so one must consider that when pushing the limits. There are always plenty of support boats around if someone has a problem beyond their ability to handle it. There is a very well tested check in / check out system in place so that everyone is accounted for.

 

So you can argue that this boat, or that boat is better than another, but when you consider the entire package of boat, organization, camaraderie among competitors, parents, coaches and race management, you really can't find a better package than the Opti.

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It's just mind boggling that this boat is so popular compared to the Naples or US sabots. The opti kids in my club waste over an hour rigging those sail ties, and when will they ever need to know how to adjust a sprit pole? The sabot is designed to be built in a garage too, and when the opti arrived on the US west coast, it must have had some pushback because there were plenty of cheap sabots for sale. I suppose the aspect of international competition is what did it?

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Just a wild ass guess but program-owned boats driven by builder batch pricing has to be part of it. Somebody bought market share?

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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!

 

Because it's an inexpensive, stable, simple, good-performing little boat? Because kids can handle them on their own, quite well, and gain a wide range of skills from total newbie to advanced?

 

I'm not all that familiar with Sabots but I have seen them sailing and to me they do not seem better in any respect. In any event, the Opti didn't "replace" the Sabot because it was never common on the East Coast at all. If anything, there were far more Turnabouts (now known as the National 10), InterClubs, and El Toros than Sabots.

 

My perspective- I did not sail Optis as a kid, I saw a few of them here & there as they were mostly home built back then. But about 8 years ago I helped start a junior sailing program at our club, and we began using Optis for the kids (ages 6 to 9 or 10). I did not particularly like them. However I learned to appreciate how well they can get moving in light air, and still handle a sea breeze + chop. The initial stability is nice, the fact that a slim 6-year-old girl has the muscle to sail one is a big plus.

 

Bailing? Not good, however I learned to bail as a critical sailing skill so I don't think it's terrible. It also keeps the students from wanting to capsize all day instead of learning to actually sail.

 

The racing class? Yeah I'm not a big fan of that, but it does have it's plus side. The kids learn a lot regardless, and it keeps the few asshole parents away from me.

 

FB- Doug

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Never sailed an opti but my sabot was built by my mom out of fiberglass. My brother and I attempted to compete in it but to be honest we spent most of our time yelling at each other and flipping. Good times on the Brisbane River.

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The only really good thing I could say about an Opti is everyone has one. It is incredibly hard to change a huge OD fleet into something else, even if the original rationale for the class of home building out of plywood sheets is decades in the past.

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OK, background. The Clearwater (Florida) Optimist Club was looking to sponsor a father-son project similar to the Soapbox Derby. Not much hills in Florida, but plenty of water. So the Optimist Club approached local designer Clark Mills to design a boat that a father and son with minimal woodworking skills could build at home. The details were left entirely up to Mills, and after a bit of experimentation he settled on an 8' plywood box. It was called the Clearwater Pram. When I sailed them in the mid-late 60s, they were still primarily wood, although professionally built...Luzier Boatbuilders in Sarasota was the guys to go to. Fiberglass was just starting tocome into the class, and they were slow.There was about 1500 boats in Florida by the mid sixties. There were fleets in several other Gulf and East Coast states, but I don't know those numbers.

Over in Europe, the boat started to catch on, except they increased the sail size a bit and allowed mid boom sheeting. This is what became the Optimist Dinghy. I think the class first caught on in Scandinavia.

 

Edit: Clark Mills is also noted for designing the Windmill, and several early models of Compac Yachts, plus many custom designs.

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The only really good thing I could say about an Opti is everyone has one. It is incredibly hard to change a huge OD fleet into something else, even if the original rationale for the class of home building out of plywood sheets is decades in the past.

Quantity does not equate to quality. The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

Everybody has one - I guess you're talking about arseholes?

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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!

Opti is way cheaper than the Sabot and presents smaller barriers to entry for parents considering entering the sport.
Was that true of the US Sabot?

 

Is it still true in AUS?

The helicopter parents buying $14k sabots for little johnny and jenny were the kiss of death for the sabot in Aus. They tried to design a sabot mk2 with self draining and a few other things, but it was 10 years too late.

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OK, background. The Clearwater (Florida) Optimist Club was looking to sponsor a father-son project similar to the Soapbox Derby. Not much hills in Florida, but plenty of water. So the Optimist Club approached local designer Clark Mills to design a boat that a father and son with minimal woodworking skills could build at home. The details were left entirely up to Mills, and after a bit of experimentation he settled on an 8' plywood box. It was called the Clearwater Pram. When I sailed them in the mid-late 60s, they were still primarily wood, although professionally built...Luzier Boatbuilders in Sarasota was the guys to go to. Fiberglass was just starting tocome into the class, and they were slow.There was about 1500 boats in Florida by the mid sixties. There were fleets in several other Gulf and East Coast states, but I don't know those numbers.

Over in Europe, the boat started to catch on, except they increased the sail size a bit and allowed mid boom sheeting. This is what became the Optimist Dinghy. I think the class first caught on in Scandinavia.

 

Edit: Clark Mills is also noted for designing the Windmill, and several early models of Compac Yachts, plus many custom designs.

 

Mills did a great job designing something cheap and easy that would work.

 

His crowning achievement, of course, is the Sun Cat, but it was designed before there was a Com-Pac Yachts. The original is in his museum in St. Pete. It has a centerboard and a bigger sail than any subsequent boat.

 

Around the time Com-Pac was having success with the 16, the Sun Cat Company was building fiberglass Sun Cats. Those had bilge boards and a Marconi sail.

 

Com-Pac started building their version in 2000. It has a smaller, gaff sail and a ballasted keel, so naturally that became the dominant design in the Sun Cat racing class.

 

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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!

Opti is way cheaper than the Sabot and presents smaller barriers to entry for parents considering entering the sport.
Was that true of the US Sabot?

 

Is it still true in AUS?

The helicopter parents buying $14k sabots for little johnny and jenny were the kiss of death for the sabot in Aus. They tried to design a sabot mk2 with self draining and a few other things, but it was 10 years too late.

14k WOW! I suppose that makes sense when a 505 is 50k

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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!

Opti is way cheaper than the Sabot and presents smaller barriers to entry for parents considering entering the sport.
Was that true of the US Sabot?

 

Is it still true in AUS?

The helicopter parents buying $14k sabots for little johnny and jenny were the kiss of death for the sabot in Aus. They tried to design a sabot mk2 with self draining and a few other things, but it was 10 years too late.

14k WOW! I suppose that makes sense when a 505 is 50k

 

1980 $$

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Opti's are great boats for 5 year olds to learn to sail in. It's ridiculous seeing 10 year olds in them, let alone 15 year olds.

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Opti's are great boats for 5 year olds to learn to sail in. It's ridiculous seeing 10 year olds in them, let alone 15 year olds.

Exactly, suitable for basic sail training and that's all.

 

post-25217-0-83555700-1477916555_thumb.jpg

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.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

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.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

 

I couldn't have said it better, Doug. My son saw parts of the World that he would never have had the opportunity to see because of the Optimist and its Class. Tell me what Class is going to be able to ship 200 boats for charter to a venue in a few containers and have them available in a far reaching location? Could you have done this with a Sabot or a Bic, sure. But it was the Opti that did it. To sit here and slag the boat because of an attrition rate, please. If your kid can't hack it in an Opti, what other class is going to change that?

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Figured I would chime in since I have some experience with both. Sure the Opti is a box, and when I raced (I had US 38) so 38th US built opti (1975) it was pretty much the only training boat around. I started out in the Clearwater Pram which is the foundation for the IOD. As a kid growing up in Florida I traveled all over the state and my last few years I went to two worlds, Denmark 1975, and Turkey 1976. Also to two South American Championships Rio 1975 and Buenos Aires 1976. I met a ton of my friends which I still have today from back then, many from various countries that I see racing still. Additionally many of the kids went on to be Olympic medalist and AC sailors. One is a top cat and AC designer. Pretty good for sailing a box. Also the opt catches crap for the gaff rig. Isn't that what all the top boats have now with the huge top gaf batten?

 

I taught Sabots when I was in San Diego one summer since I had some time on my hands. Boats might look similar but are totally different. Sabot was designed to be a tender that was towed behind a sailboat which could also be sailed around. Hence the leeboard and not a daggerboard where the water comes up the trunk when towing. It also has a lot more rocker and does not plane like an opti. It was also designed for the SOCAL light winds. First day with 15 kts of breeze which is no big deal for an Opti I found out had much the Sabot loves to dig in the bow and swamp. Forget about self rescue which most kids can do in the opti. How about traveling for the Sabot? Just SOCAL. Plenty of great sailors came from th Sabot class too, so not trying to bash it.

 

Both boats are great trainers and do what they need to do. Are there better kids boats out there? Sure but not with the low cost and infrastructure that the Opti has.

 

As for helicopter parents, show me any kids competitive sport and I will show you out of control helicopter parents. Manage your own kids and yourself and don't worry what the Jones are doing.

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I started sailing in the Optimist Oram in 1958. At the ripe old age of five I could go play with the big kids

I had a blast sailing my very own boat in a thirty boat fleet every afternoon for most of the summer.

When the wind picked up, my brother and his friends who were seven to thirteen years older than me had to go inbecause they couldn't handle all that breeze

 

I compare the Opti to the twenty inch one speed bike. Smaller baseball bats, 10 pound bowling balls, BB guns, coloring books, .....

 

They give kids, like me, a chance to get started and interested and those of who understand the starter toys generally also understand when we are ready for the next level.

 

International contests in Optis?? I see that like I see little miss beauty pageants. That is for a limited group of parents. I don't see it as being about the kids

 

But.... it sure would be great if all kids could get to travel across the country or to another continent as part of their pre term experience

 

So it isn't all bad

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.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

 

I couldn't have said it better, Doug. My son saw parts of the World that he would never have had the opportunity to see because of the Optimist and its Class. Tell me what Class is going to be able to ship 200 boats for charter to a venue in a few containers and have them available in a far reaching location? Could you have done this with a Sabot or a Bic, sure. But it was the Opti that did it. To sit here and slag the boat because of an attrition rate, please. If your kid can't hack it in an Opti, what other class is going to change that?

 

Any training class with a built in bailer, that doesn't fill up and become un-bailable and un-sailable in rough water which quickly disillusions many kids who find themselves in that situation. Any training' class that doesn't divide the kids up into the highly coached 'good' sailors group and barely coached at all lesser ability sailors who most need the coaching group. Any class that recognises that its actually a training class, not a fucking grand-prix race circuit pandering to the egos of the parents. Parents who keep their kids slugging around in a basic training class for 5 years or more in the hope that they might eventually win something should be horse whipped. That's just for starters...

 

BTW I have been involved with teaching kids to sail in all sorts of boats for 30+ years in this country and others, also driving rescue boats and dealing with the kids at the coal face so allow me to have a bit of an idea of what I am talking about.

 

The Opti phenomenon has only reared its ugly head in relatively recent times (here in Aus) and the numbers of kids who start the programs but are lost to sailing because of it is a major concern in a sport that needs every young sailor it can get to have any sort of future. I will concede that some of the problem is due to the poor quality of the programs themselves, (the Australia wide Tackers Program is an absolute con job but that's another issue for another thread one day) but the poor characteristics of the boat itself certainly don't help.

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Like I said, the good point is there are a lot of them all over the place.

 

 

.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

 

I couldn't have said it better, Doug. My son saw parts of the World that he would never have had the opportunity to see because of the Optimist and its Class. Tell me what Class is going to be able to ship 200 boats for charter to a venue in a few containers and have them available in a far reaching location? Could you have done this with a Sabot or a Bic, sure. But it was the Opti that did it. To sit here and slag the boat because of an attrition rate, please. If your kid can't hack it in an Opti, what other class is going to change that?

 

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Any training class with a built in bailer, that doesn't fill up and become un-bailable and un-sailable in rough water which quickly disillusions many kids who find themselves in that situation.

 

??? Not sure what you're saying here, it seems you feel the Opti is not a good heavy-air boat. You're wrong. With proper rigging and the right techniques (which I had to learn myself) the Opti can sail... and self-rescue... in anything a sane person would send out little kids to sail in. I've had groups out practicing heavy-air skills... basically just getting acclimated to the difference in how you handle a boat in big stuff... in 20~25 and 4~5ft rollers.

 

Any training' class that doesn't divide the kids up into the highly coached 'good' sailors group and barely coached at all lesser ability sailors who most need the coaching group. Any class that recognises that its actually a training class, not a fucking grand-prix race circuit pandering to the egos of the parents. Parents who keep their kids slugging around in a basic training class for 5 years or more in the hope that they might eventually win something should be horse whipped. That's just for starters...

 

I agree with you on all these, especially about keeping the kids in the boat too long. But that's not the boats' fault.

 

BTW I have been involved with teaching kids to sail in all sorts of boats for 30+ years in this country and others, also driving rescue boats and dealing with the kids at the coal face so allow me to have a bit of an idea of what I am talking about.

 

The Opti phenomenon has only reared its ugly head in relatively recent times (here in Aus) and the numbers of kids who start the programs but are lost to sailing because of it is a major concern in a sport that needs every young sailor it can get to have any sort of future. I will concede that some of the problem is due to the poor quality of the programs themselves, (the Australia wide Tackers Program is an absolute con job but that's another issue for another thread one day) but the poor characteristics of the boat itself certainly don't help.

 

 

Well, you say 'poor characteristics' of the boat but then you simply don't seem to know what the boat is capable of. Or perhaps you'd like a boat that doesn't sail as well? I did not like the Opti when I started working with it, but then that was only 8 years ago. Since then I have come to realize that it is an awesome boat for little kids, very difficult to improve one.

 

You all have a lot more types of boats to chose from down in Oz, but I bet the best of the trainers intended for Opti-sized kids ( under about 4'10" and under 90 lbs) have many of the same design characteristics. Meanwhile, I know for a fact that of all the improvements suggested for the Opti which I have heard involve spending a good bit more money, making the whole package far less accessible.

 

My perspective is that I don't give half a shit about racing. I care about making real sailors, and especially skippers, out of the kids. Let them learn how difficult, yet how rewarding, this complex action involving physical skills, acute observation, and mental sharpness, with absolutely nothing computer/digital/video anything about it. Let them learn resourcefulness, self-reliance, and gain a bit of a work ethic too... of course we never even mention this last little bit -_-

 

It is the inner essence of being human: to use the forces of nature to your own advantage. It's like sending them out into the woods to hunt their own food and make their own shelter, except you can do it on a suburban pond for a couple weekend hours a month.

 

It takes imagination and hard work to teach sailing outside the context of racing, but it makes the sport far more vital for the kids and when they DO race, because they've decided for themselves that they want to, they generally come out OK.

 

FB- Doug

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.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

 

I couldn't have said it better, Doug. My son saw parts of the World that he would never have had the opportunity to see because of the Optimist and its Class. Tell me what Class is going to be able to ship 200 boats for charter to a venue in a few containers and have them available in a far reaching location? Could you have done this with a Sabot or a Bic, sure. But it was the Opti that did it. To sit here and slag the boat because of an attrition rate, please. If your kid can't hack it in an Opti, what other class is going to change that?

 

Any training class with a built in bailer, that doesn't fill up and become un-bailable and un-sailable in rough water which quickly disillusions many kids who find themselves in that situation. Any training' class that doesn't divide the kids up into the highly coached 'good' sailors group and barely coached at all lesser ability sailors who most need the coaching group. Any class that recognises that its actually a training class, not a fucking grand-prix race circuit pandering to the egos of the parents. Parents who keep their kids slugging around in a basic training class for 5 years or more in the hope that they might eventually win something should be horse whipped. That's just for starters...

 

BTW I have been involved with teaching kids to sail in all sorts of boats for 30+ years in this country and others, also driving rescue boats and dealing with the kids at the coal face so allow me to have a bit of an idea of what I am talking about.

 

The Opti phenomenon has only reared its ugly head in relatively recent times (here in Aus) and the numbers of kids who start the programs but are lost to sailing because of it is a major concern in a sport that needs every young sailor it can get to have any sort of future. I will concede that some of the problem is due to the poor quality of the programs themselves, (the Australia wide Tackers Program is an absolute con job but that's another issue for another thread one day) but the poor characteristics of the boat itself certainly don't help.

 

I'm not a fan of the Opti, but they are cheap which gets lots more kids into sailing than might have other wise. Personally I think the burn out rate is due to the Opti scene rather than the boat itself. While it caters well for the kids that are pushed hard by their parents those who just want to sail and have some fun but not compete at high level are soon left behind with the endless training and other bullshit programs pushed on them.

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I think that it's hard to understand the Opti without putting it in context of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. There were hundreds of plywood boat plans around, companies even devoted to selling pre-cut kits. It was a different era, people had time and interest to build things like that. Getting a huge bump from the Optimists Club helped too, they take in pet projects like that, and can standardize their plans across chapters, since from then to now, they had/have annual national meetings ... the essential power of the internet for that design some twenty-five years before the internet.

 

At the time, that was a hot little boat for kids, and then, as now, kids were an Optimist focus. (My local Optimist chapter now does bikes, they recondition, repair and donate hundreds of bikes per year to kids.)

 

I think the original Opti design was a two-sheet design, and two sheet projects were big, Popular Mechanics, Carpentry and Boys Life had those kinds of plans. (I'm not sure when it became a three sheet design.) So a two sheet like the Opti that was designed by an actual naval designer rather than a garage woodworker had a lot of credence.

 

Compared to the two sheet Folbots and such of the day, it was a pretty good boat.Yeah, look at it through a 2016 lens and it looks dated, but remember that it's a 70 year old design. And as for the small size like the Sabot, that was a feature in a sense, a common way to transport boats back then was in the trunk of a car, or sometimes on top. An 8 foot boat could fit about 2/3 into trunk and was easily car-toppable. When I was a kid in the seventies, many small sailboats were car topped; Sailfish, Sunfish, Optis, Snarks, Sunflowers.

 

As far as I can tell, the Sabot seems a better design, but it didn't have the collective promotion of a few thousand Optimists standardizing it. I grew up with the Optimist programs, if they standardized something, it was as if it came down from Moses on the Mount, they were not a group to be taken lightly, they were a lot like Rotarians and Freemasons; captains of industry and the like, they commanded respect from the students and the dads.

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I think Opti's number one redeeming value is its rig. The fact that I can at any moment zoom up in the rib and drop the sprit, which turns the sail into a good looking garbage bag. It depowers the boat to the point that it can be sailed by a novice in 20+knots.

 

At the same time the least redeeming value is its rig. I would like to write an Opti coaching book called "It's not about the sail ties". It does not lead to better sail trim, because its some convoluted mess of a rig. Beyond the funky rig, the other issue is not enclosed air tanks. It is painful to watch an Opti sailor bailing out their boat after a capsize. The Bic kids capsize for fun.

 

I like the Opti for learn to sail ages 8-10. At that point the child, instructor, and parent should have a conversation about the size of the child, goals, interests and finances.

 

I do not like Opti's because they keep many kids from entering the sport because of the slow boring aspect. The age & size is a problem as well. Good luck finding a 11-15 yr old who will start sailing in an Opti against 8-10yr olds. I

 

I prefer to give the children and family an option like the Open Bic. It is too fast for some kids, just like the Opti is too slow. We use the small sail(3.9m2) in Learn to Sail down to about 9 yrs old. The regular (4.5m2) is plenty of horse power before switching to a Laser radial. The Bic appeals most to the 11-14yr olds which is exactly where the sport loses or never gains kids.

 

Just a few observations after coaching Bics and Optis side by side for 5 years.

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Clark Mills Heritage Museum

 

the Mills name would eventually be synonymous with the Optimist Pram, a small boat originally made for young sailors to use on Clearwater waterways. When he died in 2001, more than 200,000 children worldwide had learned the basics of sailing on his design.

 

 

Nobody ever counted me so it's really 200,001.

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I don't the bic is any faster aside from maybe a very small band. Not to mention mylar is a horrible choice for longevity.... Which is key in a learn to sail program

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.... ... The attrition rate (loss) of potential junior sailors out of those soul destroying little shitters, at least through the programs they run here in Aus, is way too high.

 

 

Makes as much sense as blaming obesity on plates & forks.

 

FB- Doug

 

I couldn't have said it better, Doug. My son saw parts of the World that he would never have had the opportunity to see because of the Optimist and its Class. Tell me what Class is going to be able to ship 200 boats for charter to a venue in a few containers and have them available in a far reaching location? Could you have done this with a Sabot or a Bic, sure. But it was the Opti that did it. To sit here and slag the boat because of an attrition rate, please. If your kid can't hack it in an Opti, what other class is going to change that?

 

Any training class with a built in bailer, that doesn't fill up and become un-bailable and un-sailable in rough water which quickly disillusions many kids who find themselves in that situation. Any training' class that doesn't divide the kids up into the highly coached 'good' sailors group and barely coached at all lesser ability sailors who most need the coaching group. Any class that recognises that its actually a training class, not a fucking grand-prix race circuit pandering to the egos of the parents. Parents who keep their kids slugging around in a basic training class for 5 years or more in the hope that they might eventually win something should be horse whipped. That's just for starters...

 

BTW I have been involved with teaching kids to sail in all sorts of boats for 30+ years in this country and others, also driving rescue boats and dealing with the kids at the coal face so allow me to have a bit of an idea of what I am talking about.

 

The Opti phenomenon has only reared its ugly head in relatively recent times (here in Aus) and the numbers of kids who start the programs but are lost to sailing because of it is a major concern in a sport that needs every young sailor it can get to have any sort of future. I will concede that some of the problem is due to the poor quality of the programs themselves, (the Australia wide Tackers Program is an absolute con job but that's another issue for another thread one day) but the poor characteristics of the boat itself certainly don't help.

 

What class would you propose? I can't for the life of me figure out what your problem is. You don't like bailing? The kids loose interest? The parents want to see their kids succeed? Poor characteristics of the boat? What are you talking about?

 

The boat is unsailable in heavy conditions? What trainer is more sea-kindly than an Opti? I think you're talking in circles.

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The below is a small part of an article that I wrote for Southwind magazine in October of 2010 - my two cents worth . . .



Ø Some kids will always be social sailors. But, if they are at all competitive, put them in an Optimist dinghy. The Opti is just a boat, neither good nor bad, just a boat. The Optimist is so successful because of the program. Based on age the kids compete in one of three groups; there is also a green or beginners group for all of the newbies, for a total of four groups. An inexperienced 6 year old does not have to compete with an experienced 15 year old. Everybody likes to win one every now and then!


Ø If they are over 13 years old and weigh more than 80 lbs., consider a Sunfish as their first boat. The Florida, Gulf Coast and Southeastern Sunfish Associations are all pro active and very supportive of junior sailing. The Sunfish program includes midgets and juniors who race with but do not compete against seniors and masters.


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I think Opti's number one redeeming value is its rig. The fact that I can at any moment zoom up in the rib and drop the sprit, which turns the sail into a good looking garbage bag. It depowers the boat to the point that it can be sailed by a novice in 20+knots.

 

At the same time the least redeeming value is its rig. I would like to write an Opti coaching book called "It's not about the sail ties". It does not lead to better sail trim, because its some convoluted mess of a rig. Beyond the funky rig, the other issue is not enclosed air tanks. It is painful to watch an Opti sailor bailing out their boat after a capsize. The Bic kids capsize for fun.

 

I like the Opti for learn to sail ages 8-10. At that point the child, instructor, and parent should have a conversation about the size of the child, goals, interests and finances.

 

I do not like Opti's because they keep many kids from entering the sport because of the slow boring aspect. The age & size is a problem as well. Good luck finding a 11-15 yr old who will start sailing in an Opti against 8-10yr olds. I

 

I prefer to give the children and family an option like the Open Bic. It is too fast for some kids, just like the Opti is too slow. We use the small sail(3.9m2) in Learn to Sail down to about 9 yrs old. The regular (4.5m2) is plenty of horse power before switching to a Laser radial. The Bic appeals most to the 11-14yr olds which is exactly where the sport loses or never gains kids.

 

Just a few observations after coaching Bics and Optis side by side for 5 years.

This matches the east coast American experience as I see it, too. There are really only 3 years in an Opti--green, white, blue----red fleet is a few kids. Everyone else is either in 420s or on the soccer field.

 

As for the bailing thing, a kid I taught (30 years ago....) figured out a way to get most of the water out--fast. Most of the flotation is up fwd. He'd climb in over the bow and hold there for a bit as the water pored out over the bow. Then there was just a little bit of bailing. Nobody had figured that out yet! Not a racing type of kid either. Albert was his name, from Palmyra NJ--I'll never forget him and his moment of genius.

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[quote name="fastyacht" post="5508819" timestamp="1478030

As for the bailing thing, a kid I taught (30 years ago....) figured out a way to get most of the water out--fast. Most of the flotation is up fwd. He'd climb in over the bow and hold there for a bit as the water pored out over the bow. Then there was just a little bit of bailing. Nobody had figured that out yet! Not a racing type of kid either. Albert was his name, from Palmyra NJ--I'll never forget him and his moment of genius.

 

Love that, will pass that to my daughter, super keen Opi sailor. Good use of a forum.

 

Tink.

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I don't the bic is any faster aside from maybe a very small band. Not to mention mylar is a horrible choice for longevity.... Which is key in a learn to sail program

plus, if you leave the mylar sail on the grass for an afternoon in the sun.....you get a nice effect that the grounds keepers don't really appreciate ;-)

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I'm glad to see that the people who know the boat and have actually sailed an opti really dig it.

 

We had 270 kids racing optis this weekend in Vigo, I hope next year we have 300.

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I don't the bic is any faster aside from maybe a very small band. Not to mention mylar is a horrible choice for longevity.... Which is key in a learn to sail program

plus, if you leave the mylar sail on the grass for an afternoon in the sun.....you get a nice effect that the grounds keepers don't really appreciate ;-)

 

in florida it's hot enough to do that with a spinnaker...

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I live in AU obviously hot or hotter than anywhere else.. We have had no issues with the 2nd gen Bic mylars. The original ones got brittle like old sailboard rigs and were not reinforced so they could get punctured. The newer ones are reinforced, better mylar, much better sails. My son has hit a triangular channel marker, dropped it on a lawn bench, and whacked a road sign. No damage on the new ones. I should kick his ass, but he would do more stupid shit in retaliation.

 

I think the Opti associations have done great things over the years internationally to promote sailing. However, that said its all happened in spite of the design of the boat. Its so obvious to the outsiders how many kids for reasons I mentioned either leave sailing, never start sailing, or hate sailing(physical & mental abuse of insane Opti parents) directly because of Optis.

 

I would never advocate for one class. As I mentioned before the Optis serve a few purposes, the Bics the have their own. To argue that there should be only one junior training boat or even that one is better for every kid is absurd. My friend on Hawaii coaches El Toros(Sabots) and Toppers as the advanced junior boat.

 

The thing that gets my goat up is the Opti machine. They try their best to convince new sailors and families that the Opti is better for all junior sailing because of bunch of mistruths and blatten lies. It keeps the kids in them for too long, or puts them in the wrong boat to start with. There is some bizarre notion that if they can survive the Opti experience, then they have their choice of other classes.

 

One of my favorite clubs in AU is Sandringham. They have 3 fleets of 30 Bics, Minnows, and Optis. Different boats for different kids. The Minnows are a cool AU pram like a better rigged Sabot. They might be the best of all.

 

Historically everyone races at the club/state level. Good kids with a bit of cash go to Nats. The best kids(with money) go to International events. The Opti Machine has convinced people that with enough rock star coaching any kid can be the best in country. The Toppers in the UK the Minnows and more or less the Sabots(before they got stupid expensive) are still sailed that way. The good kids go International in Lasers, 420's, 29ers after they have proven themselves in the junior classes.

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I think Opti's number one redeeming value is its rig. The fact that I can at any moment zoom up in the rib and drop the sprit, which turns the sail into a good looking garbage bag. It depowers the boat to the point that it can be sailed by a novice in 20+knots.

 

At the same time the least redeeming value is its rig. I would like to write an Opti coaching book called "It's not about the sail ties". It does not lead to better sail trim, because its some convoluted mess of a rig. Beyond the funky rig, the other issue is not enclosed air tanks. It is painful to watch an Opti sailor bailing out their boat after a capsize. The Bic kids capsize for fun.

 

I like the Opti for learn to sail ages 8-10. At that point the child, instructor, and parent should have a conversation about the size of the child, goals, interests and finances.

 

I do not like Opti's because they keep many kids from entering the sport because of the slow boring aspect. The age & size is a problem as well. Good luck finding a 11-15 yr old who will start sailing in an Opti against 8-10yr olds. I

 

I prefer to give the children and family an option like the Open Bic. It is too fast for some kids, just like the Opti is too slow. We use the small sail(3.9m2) in Learn to Sail down to about 9 yrs old. The regular (4.5m2) is plenty of horse power before switching to a Laser radial. The Bic appeals most to the 11-14yr olds which is exactly where the sport loses or never gains kids.

 

Just a few observations after coaching Bics and Optis side by side for 5 years.

This matches the east coast American experience as I see it, too. There are really only 3 years in an Opti--green, white, blue----red fleet is a few kids. Everyone else is either in 420s or on the soccer field.

 

Ha! I'm originally from New England. In AU they go Soccer or Footie or skateboarding and/or surfing.

 

Does anyone in their right mind think for one second a surfer/skater kid(we got plenty in AU) would consider an Opti for more than a year at best? They look at a Bic and say hell ya. They shred it up in 20 kts on a Bic and they are hooked. Do they race forever or move into another class? Who the fuck cares!!! They sailed for a few years and loved it. Those are the same kids that find a used Laser and have a ton of fun with it later on.

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I think the Bic is a cool little boat but comparing the design to the Opti is kinda ridiculous. What was Clark Mills supposed to do, design something like the Bic that would be cheap and easy to home-build with mid-20th century technology?

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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!

It all started with a boat half full of water...

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Here's the deal guys. Your kid should sail what the other kids sail at your local program or club are sailing. That's all there is to it. Sail with your friends, build relationships to last a lifetime and have fun. In 30 years when they are teaching their kids its won't matter. Be positive and take every chance you can to get someone on the water. Be a positive force for good, and stop bitching.

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This discussion is already endless.

But

I have a request:

At the beginning of your rants, could each of you insert whether you sailed Optis, at what age, how many years, did you race, where in the fleet did you mostly find yourself?

 

I will start

 

I raced Optimist Prams from 1958 to 1964 when at 11 I was already a bit big for the boat so I switched to Snipes... for which I was still a bit too small.

 

We had 40 boats available and about 32 went out every afternoon for about six weeks in our club's summer program. Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club.

We had swimming lessons in the morning and must of us completed one level of Red Cross training each summer. I got everything through Advanced Swimmer and Junior Lifesaving at CLYC before we moved away in the summer of 1965

I finished too few races to count in 1958 then 12-10-8-4-4-3 in each of the other seasons respectively.

I think Optis are fantastic boats because they can be sailed by any kid in virtually any condition where any adult would allow a kid out to play. Certainly , in my day, the Optimists were more seaworthy than most of the boats available to the instructors.

I had a wood boat with a cotton sail until the end of 1964 and only used my Dacron sail a few times in 1965 before deciding I was too big for Optis

 

I am a fan of the Opti over boats like Lasers or sunfush because little people who know what to do can take care of themselves.

I remember watching kids who were not big enough to move up to Snipes or Sunfish having to sit on shore when I could go race in my Optimist.

 

I believe the concepts learned were and still are deferred gratification and knowing your own limits

 

There are real races to be found in Optis for kids at every level from giggjeboxes who just want to be on the water to "if those kids were full size they would beat your ass."

 

Whatever advantages other boats may have, I cannot see how those advantages outweigh just using the fifty thousand functioning boats still in circulation.

 

 

Summary:

I am curious what percentage of those who want something to replace the Opti have never sailed in an Opti fleet

I am also curious whether those that won or sailed toward the front of the pack feel differently than those who sailed in different parts of the pecking order.

 

My Opti years were some of the most fun of my life.

 

As were my:

Snipe Years

Rhodes Bantam Years

Star Years

Copperhead years

Sidewinder years

Fireball Years

Thistle years

J-24 years

J-22 Years

Laser Years

 

And pretty much every boat I ever jumped on for a weekend or month or whatever

Except Zumas Suck!!! But I enjoyed the comraderie

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My first opti was a home build. It was a crap boat looking back as an adult but I loved it. My dad built it in the dining room from a kit for £250 pounds in the late eighties. In total 7 were built. Three parents and club members building the other 4 for club boats. Guess what I could still see my Opti and the 6 others sailing at Largs Sailing Club some 20 years later. This is why the Optimist was a success as it is a manageable boat for a 10 year old to go out on the water and have freedom in and you can do it cheap or expensive depending upon what your competitive ambitions are.

 

They now have a Tera class in the UK and where will that class be in ten years time. I would suggest a giant landfill with obsolete spares. The Opti with its class rules and multiple builder/sailmaker policy will still be going strong. The Tera is not even a great value proposition when you take into account likely resale costs. Whilst the Optimist might be a bit limited in performance for 14-15 year olds it more than makes up for this with the best racing in the UK. If the kids want to sail other boats as well then this is fine but if they have competitive ambitions they will continue to train in the Opti.

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Coral Reef Yacht Club, 1976, won first in the class.

 

I have been in other sailing races and won some, but never since won one I'm really proud of.

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'66 - '70 in SW Florida. Our fleet was small and fairly casual, but we did well in regattas south of Tampa Bay. North of the bay we'd get our butts kicked by St Pete YC, which had Ed Baird and Allison Jolly on their team, coached by Dr John Jennings. Most memorable experience was a Labor Day Regatta in Sarasota, where during registration I looked at the race schedule and figured out I could sail the morning Pram races, and then hightail it out to the 'big course' to race in the Portsmouth Class starting right after noon.. Won Prams, was third in Portsmouth.

I wouldn't suggest Optis as a good boat for teens, but it's perfectly fine for pre-teens and 'Tweens. I do have a problem with how the youth sailing is run...too much emphasis on racing, and not enough on boat care. Most of the current kids can't even use a screwdriver. Although our boats were owned by the local YC, we kids did our own repairs and maintainence, including varnish (wooden boats then), and also kept the boat shed and grounds clean. It was as valuable part of the learning experience as the sailing part.

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You know, its probably a tall order to design a boat for short people (heheh, see what i did there?... anyway). You cant make them fast because that will a) make them harder to sail B) require more strength c) require more righting moment - which the sailor wont be able to provide due to their stature. Ok so what about self bailing? Elvstrom bailers require speed. If you're not even remotely near planing, you're going to need to bail. This includes the venerable club 420... Less than 15kts? you're probably bailing... Less than 10 - when you're going to get some water on the roll tacks? you'll be bailing. Ok so open cockpit? Requires more freeboard or you end up in a 29er situation where the boat swamps very easily in light air. More freeboard? Now its harder to get back into the boat - hell harder to get back on the centerboard. I dunno, maybe a tiny laser would work (shudder) with a proper mast and rudder - point is the hull shape might allow for a small cockpit that even with an autobailer wont become unmaneable. Of course, when you go for a foot-well locker like the laser, you've now made it harder to send a couple tykes out together. This is one of the advtanges of the opti as well, not uncommon to put two 8year olds in the boat.

 

Whats my point? I guess that no one has really suggested a proper boat. The only positive thing i've seen about the Bic is the marketing and the class's attempt to focus on fun. Lack of freeboard, mylar sails are dumb for durability (yes i saw the comment that the newer generation sails have more scrim and therefore better durability.... dont worry their time will still come before the equivalent dacron), overweight, under-floated, etc.

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Saw a FB post from a coach who was out coaching Opti sailors yesterday morning - at 5:30AM on a school day

 

You're fucking kidding me, right? Nope.

 

Is it any wonder so many kids are lost to this sport. Can you say Burnout?

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Saw a FB post from a coach who was out coaching Opti sailors yesterday morning - at 5:30AM on a school day

 

You're fucking kidding me, right? Nope.

 

Is it any wonder so many kids are lost to this sport. Can you say Burnout?

Right. Because sailing is the only sport that does that.... If the kid wants it , and then parents can afford it, power to em.

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You know, its probably a tall order to design a boat for short people (heheh, see what i did there?... anyway). You cant make them fast because that will a) make them harder to sail B) require more strength c) require more righting moment - which the sailor wont be able to provide due to their stature. Ok so what about self bailing? Elvstrom bailers require speed. If you're not even remotely near planing, you're going to need to bail. This includes the venerable club 420... Less than 15kts? you're probably bailing... Less than 10 - when you're going to get some water on the roll tacks? you'll be bailing. Ok so open cockpit? Requires more freeboard or you end up in a 29er situation where the boat swamps very easily in light air. More freeboard? Now its harder to get back into the boat - hell harder to get back on the centerboard. I dunno, maybe a tiny laser would work (shudder) with a proper mast and rudder - point is the hull shape might allow for a small cockpit that even with an autobailer wont become unmaneable. Of course, when you go for a foot-well locker like the laser, you've now made it harder to send a couple tykes out together. This is one of the advtanges of the opti as well, not uncommon to put two 8year olds in the boat.

 

Whats my point? I guess that no one has really suggested a proper boat. The only positive thing i've seen about the Bic is the marketing and the class's attempt to focus on fun. Lack of freeboard, mylar sails are dumb for durability (yes i saw the comment that the newer generation sails have more scrim and therefore better durability.... dont worry their time will still come before the equivalent dacron), overweight, under-floated, etc.

Aussie sabots manage to use elvstrom bailers. They only work in breeze, and need the boat to be 2/3 empty, but they do work.

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Saw a FB post from a coach who was out coaching Opti sailors yesterday morning - at 5:30AM on a school day

 

You're fucking kidding me, right? Nope.

 

Is it any wonder so many kids are lost to this sport. Can you say Burnout?

Obviously you have never been a swimmer, sunrise was something you maybe saw on your way home 6 days a week. Winter, the fucker came up after you got home and had breakfast. Must be why there are no swimmers left.

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. I do have a problem with how the youth sailing is run...too much emphasis on racing, and not enough on boat care. Most of the current kids can't even use a screwdriver. Although our boats were owned by the local YC, we kids did our own repairs and maintainence, including varnish (wooden boats then), and also kept the boat shed and grounds clean. It was as valuable part of the learning experience as the sailing part.

 

I agree with you on this one. A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at a big regatta on the Opti course (not as a safety boat) and came across a young girl who had lost her mainsheet. I offered to pull her bow into the wind so that she could run it through the blocks again. She replied that she did not know how! Since I was alone in my boat and it is hard sided, the only thing I could really do was call her coach on VHF and stand by until he got there.

 

However there are some community sailing programs in Florida who do focus more on fun and skill, and much less on racing. You don't hear about them so much because they stay local and do not take teams to the bigger regattas. They do however take the kids to a few small local events where the competitors will be at a similar skill level. They boats they use are wooden Opti's built by parents and the kids.

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Saw a FB post from a coach who was out coaching Opti sailors yesterday morning - at 5:30AM on a school day

 

You're fucking kidding me, right? Nope.

 

Is it any wonder so many kids are lost to this sport. Can you say Burnout?

Obviously you have never been a swimmer, sunrise was something you maybe saw on your way home 6 days a week. Winter, the fucker came up after you got home and had breakfast. Must be why there are no swimmers left.

 

 

Heh. I was going to comment that 5:30 was when morning water polo workout began. Sailing would have been a vacation.

 

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. I do have a problem with how the youth sailing is run...too much emphasis on racing, and not enough on boat care. Most of the current kids can't even use a screwdriver. Although our boats were owned by the local YC, we kids did our own repairs and maintainence, including varnish (wooden boats then), and also kept the boat shed and grounds clean. It was as valuable part of the learning experience as the sailing part.

I agree with you on this one. A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at a big regatta on the Opti course (not as a safety boat) and came across a young girl who had lost her mainsheet. I offered to pull her bow into the wind so that she could run it through the blocks again. She replied that she did not know how! Since I was alone in my boat and it is hard sided, the only thing I could really do was call her coach on VHF and stand by until he got there.

 

However there are some community sailing programs in Florida who do focus more on fun and skill, and much less on racing. You don't hear about them so much because they stay local and do not take teams to the bigger regattas. They do however take the kids to a few small local events where the competitors will be at a similar skill level. They boats they use are wooden Opti's built by parents and the kids.

Wouldn't have been one of my kids... (Back when I coached).

 

Also, and I know I say this every time a youth sailing thread pops up, sometimes you need to show up to the club, drop the kids off , and leave. No coaches. No directors. Definitely no parents. And let the kids go sailing. We tended to do our own drills on days like that, but we also went and sailed to parts if the bay we normally wouldn't go etc. Generally just had fun. I've had parents look at me sideways when I tell them that but I was doing from maybe 13yo and onwards (and a lot of my friends a lot earlier. Of the group of my jr sailing friends that went out and tooled around with no one around, we're all still sailing. Friends who showed up just on practice days, the ratio of who is still sailing is distinctly less impressive.

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. I do have a problem with how the youth sailing is run...too much emphasis on racing, and not enough on boat care. Most of the current kids can't even use a screwdriver. Although our boats were owned by the local YC, we kids did our own repairs and maintainence, including varnish (wooden boats then), and also kept the boat shed and grounds clean. It was as valuable part of the learning experience as the sailing part.

I agree with you on this one. A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at a big regatta on the Opti course (not as a safety boat) and came across a young girl who had lost her mainsheet. I offered to pull her bow into the wind so that she could run it through the blocks again. She replied that she did not know how! Since I was alone in my boat and it is hard sided, the only thing I could really do was call her coach on VHF and stand by until he got there.

 

However there are some community sailing programs in Florida who do focus more on fun and skill, and much less on racing. You don't hear about them so much because they stay local and do not take teams to the bigger regattas. They do however take the kids to a few small local events where the competitors will be at a similar skill level. They boats they use are wooden Opti's built by parents and the kids.

Wouldn't have been one of my kids... (Back when I coached).

 

Also, and I know I say this every time a youth sailing thread pops up, sometimes you need to show up to the club, drop the kids off , and leave. No coaches. No directors. Definitely no parents. And let the kids go sailing. We tended to do our own drills on days like that, but we also went and sailed to parts if the bay we normally wouldn't go etc. Generally just had fun. I've had parents look at me sideways when I tell them that but I was doing from maybe 13yo and onwards (and a lot of my friends a lot earlier. Of the group of my jr sailing friends that went out and tooled around with no one around, we're all still sailing. Friends who showed up just on practice days, the ratio of who is still sailing is distinctly less impressive.

 

This is probably true of most sports. It's the kids that have play games in the backyard or down at the park making up suitable rules, swim in their free time, just have fun doing the things they also train at. It stays with them forever as it was fun as well as work. Plus most of the lasting memories are from these unregulated times rather than the controlled training/competing.

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Wouldn't have been one of my kids... (Back when I coached).

 

Also, and I know I say this every time a youth sailing thread pops up, sometimes you need to show up to the club, drop the kids off , and leave. No coaches. No directors. Definitely no parents. ...

 

 

And soon, many, many lawyers if anything happens to one of those kids.

 

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While I started sailing in an Opti, I never raced it or belonged to a sailing program. I sailed on the lake behind our house with the family dog. If I took off without him he would swim behind the boat until I brought him aboard.

 

Later on, I became a junior member of CGSC in Miami and started to race in larger dingy's. But most summer days I just rode my bike down to the club and went sailing with the other kids. We sailed all over Biscayne Bay and took turns with whose boat(s) we took. Small boat racing was mostly a family affair and many families owned more than one boat. Kids sailed with and against the adults and were not placed in "youth classes" by themselves.

 

Things are different now and looking back, I think I might have become a better racer with a coach to mentor me, but I did become a more self-reliant sailor and person because I didn't have a coach and helicopter parents. But I wouldn't get rid of programs, especially the community sailing programs. Many kids that are not from sailing families start sailing in high school because of the school teams. Sure, many kids drop out of Opti's and other sailing programs, but without them many of these kids would not be sailing at all. The critics should remember that!

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Good evening,

 

For some reason an Optimist just works as a first boat for a 7 or 8 year old. Nothing better than your own boat and your dog and a lot of freedom.

My then 8 year old sailing his freebee wooden Optimist. Rescued by a friend who had the boat stored in a warehouse toilet. Cost us about 20 Dollars in exterior grade paint and a bit of leftover epoxy to get it afloat. Three seasons later it fell apart and we chucked it into the skip and moved on to a bigger 2 man boat.

Have fun,

Multisail.

post-14467-0-42344800-1478635379_thumb.jpg

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Proper boats.

Agree proper boats... but bloody expensive boats

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I got a borrowed opti for a year (1983) and then owned a used one for three more years. Loved every minute I spent on it, I explored the bay, won a couple of races, broke it, fixed it, I even rigged a bed sheet made spinnaker on it...

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LOL I am glad we agree. I'll put the punctuation in to make it clearer.

 

No, Mirror looks like a coffin--unlike Optimists.

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When I was a kid, we learned to sail by crewing with experienced sailors, and moved up to skippering our own boats.

 

Here's what happens now at our club: The sailing program starts out by putting a bunch of kids in old Mercurys, and they all love the experience. They sail with instructors, practice man-overboard, sail to the beach, fool around.

 

The next step--the only next step--is Optimists. Some kids thrive in them, and we've produced some top sailors. But many don't--it's lonely and can be boring, and they don't care about the competition. So they quit. The competitive ones eventually move on to 420s.

 

Why do we allow our junior programs to lose more than half their kids every year? Is this the way to support future sailors? Why don't these programs add a cruising element that can teach less competitive kids about all the many other joys of sailing--seamanship, boat-keeping, just messing around in boats?

 

That's why I dislike Opti's. Give kids other options and maybe so many of them won't burn out.

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When I grew up in Michigan, there weren't any optimists, toros or sabots (same hull). Us smaller kids had sunfish, and we'd get 30+ on the line every sunday, with a pontoon boat for the committee. The bigger kids and adults had snipes. There were no coaches, I just read Elvstrom and hung a stopwatch around my neck.

 

As mentioned, there's nothing wrong with an Opti...per se. The thing is, it's got specific and limited size range for the skipper, and that doesn't fit everyone.

The helicopter parents/coaches/nanny boats are another problem, but it's not the boat's fault.

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When I ran a program with them in the 80s, I came to both like the boats and hate the boats specifically, but to Loon's point, a bigger issue was, "how do I teach and inspire sailing with more than just racing?" The USYRU certification seminars were great--but all based on racing as a primary tool. However, there was an understanding at that time (haven't followed the recent stuff) that that could get tedious. So there were alternative ideas. I build on those ideas and I think I may have been moderately successful. I can't really know. If you just focus on triangle triangle triangle WLWLWLW all day every day, sure, kids will burn out. So there is sponge tag, and capture the flag, and water pistol tag, and voyages to the picnic beach etc. There's also land games when the wind is just not there at all. I got flak (not from parents) but from one of the club types for playing softball with the kids one afternoon. Well, that;s what you do when you've done other drills and there is zero wind and 3 knots of current...

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When I ran a program with them in the 80s, I came to both like the boats and hate the boats specifically, but to Loon's point, a bigger issue was, "how do I teach and inspire sailing with more than just racing?" The USYRU certification seminars were great--but all based on racing as a primary tool. However, there was an understanding at that time (haven't followed the recent stuff) that that could get tedious. So there were alternative ideas. I build on those ideas and I think I may have been moderately successful. I can't really know. If you just focus on triangle triangle triangle WLWLWLW all day every day, sure, kids will burn out. So there is sponge tag, and capture the flag, and water pistol tag, and voyages to the picnic beach etc. There's also land games when the wind is just not there at all. I got flak (not from parents) but from one of the club types for playing softball with the kids one afternoon. Well, that;s what you do when you've done other drills and there is zero wind and 3 knots of current...

 

Softball is one option I suppose. When I knew we were preparing to bake and torture some kids in the summer sun with zero wind, I brought some kayaks to Kids Camp. They were a huge hit. And I learned that one kid's "problem" was that he just didn't like sailing. It's not for everyone. He LOVED kayaking.

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I actually had kids (the older ones) that wanted to race... Oh no, drills? Oh no, going to xyz cove what are we five? Nah they liked race days. The younger ones were hard to inspire to want to sail instead of swim.

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When I ran a program with them in the 80s, I came to both like the boats and hate the boats specifically, but to Loon's point, a bigger issue was, "how do I teach and inspire sailing with more than just racing?" The USYRU certification seminars were great--but all based on racing as a primary tool. However, there was an understanding at that time (haven't followed the recent stuff) that that could get tedious. So there were alternative ideas. I build on those ideas and I think I may have been moderately successful. I can't really know. If you just focus on triangle triangle triangle WLWLWLW all day every day, sure, kids will burn out. So there is sponge tag, and capture the flag, and water pistol tag, and voyages to the picnic beach etc. There's also land games when the wind is just not there at all. I got flak (not from parents) but from one of the club types for playing softball with the kids one afternoon. Well, that;s what you do when you've done other drills and there is zero wind and 3 knots of current...

 

Softball is one option I suppose. When I knew we were preparing to bake and torture some kids in the summer sun with zero wind, I brought some kayaks to Kids Camp. They were a huge hit. And I learned that one kid's "problem" was that he just didn't like sailing. It's not for everyone. He LOVED kayaking.

 

 

There are ALL KINDS of exercises to develop specific skills; you don't need racing at all to bring young sailors to a high level of skill.

 

One exercise that kids don't love at first, but as they learn it becomes interesting and they relate better: lawn 'sailing.' Give them a specific wind direction and have them work out points of sail & maneuvers, including stopping/docking, walking/talking their way thru each action entailed. Draw a big boat and play "Pin The Tail On The Opti (or the Olson 30)" with a box full of paper slips of boat part names. Combine this with walking the docks, looking at real boats and identifying all the gear. Bonus points- identify hull/rig configurations and how each will work out in practice. Use quick/cheap materials to make a boat- one exercise I've done several times is to have them make tinfoil hulls, and race them against each other using drop-weights & string. Etc Etc

 

I like getting kids involved in all kinds of boats, kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, etc etc. Most of the kids in our program have come to dislike the noise & stink of engines and are not likely to want to jump on a jetski, and having developed their own skills, they recognize the just-slightly-above-total-incompetence of most motorboaters.

 

It's also true that sailing is not for everyone. But if a kid HATES sailing as a whole then there is probably something else going on, in 8+ years of running 2 programs I have seen less than a handful of kids who didn't really like -some- aspect of it a lot... being on the water, the cameraderie, outdoors exercise, whatever it may be.

 

FB- Doug

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I haven't seen a real jet ski in 20 years. All we ever see now are annoying "pwc" droning on and on doing nothing but circles. So at least in Florida, some people still jet ski for real.

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My experience with Optis is 6 yrs as a Learn to Sail instructor and Race coach in Australia.

 

Here's an interesting example. This weekend I ran 2 hrs of race training with 7 Optis and 5 Bics. We have 3 more Opti kids, but they didn't show. It was 0-6 kts on the river in the morning for practice. 10-12kts in the afternoon for the races. We ran 5 short course races in 1.5 hrs.

 

Because of the light wind I ran a ball tag game around the rib(they must have done 50 tacks and gybes) and we practiced kinetics on the way back to the club. Everyone enjoyed the games. I could barely get the Opti kids(1-4yr Opti sailors) to do any rocking and pumping(the most important way to get to the bar or your lunch when the wind dies). The Bic kids are having fun pushing their boats to the edge, capsizing, learning balance & their boats. And most importantly learning how to use your boat with no wind. I had to hop in my Laser to show them how to rock & pump.

 

The races went really well. Mixed Bic/Opti fleet. Here's the trick. All of the Opti kids packed up immediately after the races. All of the Bic kids kept sailing. A couple of them borrowed my full rig Laser. They sailed for another hour. All in pairs simply having fun fucking around in sailboats. I had to finally call them off the water, because I had so many boats and the rib to put away.

 

After age 10, I do not see Opti kids sailing their boats other than in L2S, race training or racing. The Bics are used just like we use the Lasers...whenever you feel like having a sail or playing with your friends. They are used as much or more for casual sailing than for racing.

 

We run Learn to Sail in an Opti age 7-9. Age 10 the kids go Opti or Bic. I think it works well. It will be interesting to see 3-5 yrs from now who is still sailing.

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... It will be interesting to see 3-5 yrs from now who is still sailing.

 

Indeed, or 30-50 years from now.

 

How many here grew up sailing a Bic?

 

I would have loved to have had a Bic instead of an Opti in the 1970s. But it was the 1970s and lots of the Opti's, mine included, were made of wood.

 

I wonder how a "Bic History" thread will read in a few decades?

 

Probable post: "This Ahab guy used to torture us with these horrible little boats called Optimist prams. Anyone remember those? I couldn't wait to grow two more years to get out of the damn thing."

 

This generation can choose better boats. We couldn't but I still have mostly fond memories of my horrible little boat.

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Speaking of things that require every bit as much skill as sailing an Opti...

 

Agreed, but the majority of the fuckwits buying those things don't have anywhere near that level of skill.

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I sailed optis and the one thing that is apparent as you get bigger is it harder to go fast. Although frustrating it does cause the older larger kids to get wiser and it really helped out my strategy.

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Speaking of things that require every bit as much skill as sailing an Opti...

 

Agreed, but the majority of the fuckwits buying those things don't have anywhere near that level of skill.

 

 

Hey, I resemble that remark!

 

seadoospray.jpg

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I was relatively tall and heavy for my age. Had to race in one of the last heavy wooden Optis, with styrofoam blocks wrapped in fabric for flotation. Almost all the other kids were on plastic already. (These boats with the stripe that looked loke an inverted Puma symbol.) Almost never had enough wind on our little lake. When it occasionally blew hard enough for me, races got cancelled for security reasons. I only capsized once, in calm weather, because I overdid that "heel to windward" thing on a run. Man, did I hate the Opti!

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We finally got our club to move away from 420 clubs. Horrible boats. Im would love to see kids move out of optis into crewed boats. Bobbing around in bathtub by yourself is boring for 8 year old.

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Opti? lots around. Grew up 'lernin on a laser. Saved my paper route $$ in the 1970's to buy one. $799 (a whole shitpot-o-money for a 13 year old back then) has to work 4 months or so when Cali raised the sales tax to bank the diff. Now they are $6,250 new. Based on newegg.com, they should be about $3,700 now.

 

Where is that thread about kids not getting into the sport?

 

But... Pokemon go totally rocks the couches.

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