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SailNDive

Best sailboat to teach a small child to sail

77 posts in this topic

We live on a pretty protected lake (though also very close to the ocean...see attached screenshot.) We have to make it under a powerline to get out to the main lake (though we are only the second lot in from the main lake so not too far to get down a canal).

What sailboat is the best kind to teach a young child to sail?

 

Lake Osborn screenshot.jpg

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You don't say how young... 

Traditionally an Opti or similar small pram is a good starter. 

Boat needs to fit kid's size/strength and your local conditions

If you plan to be in boat with kid, that's a factor. 

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I would pick the boat based on his age and ability to rig the boat.  If he's 12 or so, probably a laser.  Younger, probably an optimist.  Make sure he is comfortable swimming and a lifejacket is a must.

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Also, have a look what others are sailing in the area. It's much more fun for the kids, if they can sail with/against each other. Steeper learning curve as well. 

Paul 

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My 12 year old hates Optis and is having the time of his life with our Club's Hartley 12s.

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whatever they are most likely to have fun in.

the answer depends a lot on the child :)

 

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2 hours ago, Bob Perry said:

I started my boys at 6 years old in an El Toro..

 

Oh...I learned on an El Toro.....Formosa late 50'

IMG_0008.jpg

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   depends on area...my experience is that kids really eventually want to race (at least mine did)...   in Lake Ontario age 7 to 12 that's an Opti..

     any older than 12 .....kids usually (or at least should) be embarrassed being in Opti and they (in single handed and depending on size) transition to a Radial

 

  ive heard of some areas getting enough open bic's together to have a fleet that can race.....    I dont know anything about sunfish

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Optimists are pieces of shit.  Uncomfortable, perform like snot, are a total bitch in shallow water because of the daggerboard and the fixed rudder, and just love to turn turtle without a masthead float. You also can't fit an adult in an optimist with the kid, so unless the kid knows how to sail or you have a tender dighy, they suck. They're popular only because of the size of their racing fleets.

 The RS Tera beats it hands down.  As does the laser pico.  

Another thing you may want to consider is to get a small 2 hander.  Don't rig the jib and he'll still learn to sail on it, but when you want to have fun you can throw the jib on and go with him at a reasonable pace.

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TP52. Get the little fuckers tykes started young.

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52 minutes ago, Grrr... said:

Optimists are pieces of shit.  Uncomfortable, perform like snot, are a total bitch in shallow water because of the daggerboard and the fixed rudder, and just love to turn turtle without a masthead float. You also can't fit an adult in an optimist with the kid, so unless the kid knows how to sail or you have a tender dighy, they suck. They're popular only because of the size of their racing fleets.

 

                        Yes an opti is uncomfortable for a helicopter parent that sails with his child (probably child wearing helmet) in 3ft of water.....

 

                         their race fleets are large because the boat is popular.....the best opti sailors turn out to be the best laser sailors..49er...etc...etc...

 

           now if your child has no competitive instincts or spirit then a pico might be good...  you will have to buy new though as there isnt much of a used pico market...unlike a billion optis available for cheap.

     +++ to ishmael starting young...my son and daughter...started at 7 and 6 (no adults in their optis) both instruct now and one even had 2 national champs...so a life of sailing for them...    one child is taking a gap year to travel to visit all the European kids we have billeted over the years in opti and laser regattas...that to me is the power of both regattas and sailing in them        or get a pico or RS Tera......

                   

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10 hours ago, toolbar said:

Also, have a look what others are sailing in the area. It's much more fun for the kids, if they can sail with/against each other. Steeper learning curve as well. 

Paul 

I agree. When she is old enough, I'll be hoping my daughter will be interested in sailing lessons at my clubs juniors school sailing with kids her own age. She'll sail whatever they use which I think may be opti's 

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6 hours ago, Ishmael said:

TP52. Get the little fuckers tykes started young.

i like your thinking    ;-)

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We let our 5yr old take the helm. :)

 

14089048_10155207849049251_1487579983609

 

13731635_10155118720799251_2255072611491

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Thanks for all the responses... so I guess the next logical question is how young is too young? 

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12 minutes ago, SailNDive said:

Thanks for all the responses... so I guess the next logical question is how young is too young? 

Diapers.

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Depends entirely on the kid. My boys started at 6. I put them in the El Toro and stood waste deep in the water. They sailed out, tacked and came back in and I caught them and we did it again and again. Finally I stopped catching them and they were doing two tacks. They would sail up and down the beach while I called out instructions. Must have driven the neighbors nuts. But in time they were doing it. Some times I would sail along side them on my windsurfer or my Tasar. I'm sure there is a more formal way of teaching kids but I know my way worked. Put a 60 lb. kid in an El Toro and it sails like a rocket. Chines are barely in the water. As soon as my younger son saw his older brother doing it there was no stopping him.

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7 minutes ago, SailNDive said:

Thanks for all the responses... so I guess the next logical question is how young is too young? 

Depends on the child. My usual answer to this (I run the junior sailing at my local, small, sailing club) is "some are ready at five years old, some are not ready at fifty..."

The main issue is water confidence- if they are enjoying playing close to water in a boat then they can learn, if they are terrified of falling in, they won't learn anything (any age).

 After that, the main difference is teaching style- if they are over about ten years or so (depends on the kid...) then they can be taught by using drills and explanations, if they are younger then what you are aiming to do is to put them into an environment where they can learn, not "teach" them. So you put them in an Oppy, show them where to sit and how to hold the "stick" and the "rope" and get them to steer their boat across the wind to where someone will grab them and turn them around to sail back (on a rib?). Once they can steer, you get them to tack (being VERY specific about facing forwards, not swapping hands early etc) and then they can figure-8, then close reach, to get them going upwind, then set them up to work out how to "zig-zag" up to their destination. Fit in all the other stuff they need- knots, rights of way, capsize recovery etc when the weather's wrong for sailing.

 

 Oppies have some big advantages over other small singlehanders that easily outweigh the downsides in most (not all) cases.

 Bigger kids (early teens) are better in a bigger boat. A laser is too powerful (yes, even a 4.7). In the UK we often use Toppers, I think most countries have something similar- Splash?  Sabot? etc Are Sunfish the US equivalent?  I haven't sailed one but the 7sqm sail looks too big, unless you are in a light wind area.

 

 Main thing is the fleet- it's a lot more fun to sail with your friends, and that's a lot more fun if you all have the same type of boat. A kid doesn't don't want to be the only Oppy in a fleet of Teras any more than they want to be the only Tera in a fleet of Oppies... what does your local club sail? If it's Picos or Bugs, try the next club and see if they know better... Those El Toros look pretty good!

 Local geography/climate matters a bit- Oppies work well for me because the high freeboard and stability keep kids drier. The fact that you need to bail them discourages small kids from capsizing for laughs and hence getting cold and quitting (Scottish Lochs have cold water!). If you have light winds, warm water & sun that's a bit less of a concern!!

 Cheers,

               W.

 

 

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Learned when I was about 12 years old, in parallel with my dad, on a large pond / really small lake in Kentucky on a $150 Snark (there's a thread about these boats somewhere around) purchased from a box store like K-mart / Wal-Mart. We had a couple "learn to sail books" including one put out by AMF that focused on a Sunfish. We would take turns single-handing (boat too small for both of us). If it started blowing too hard (pretty rare for Kentucky in the middle of the Summer) it was easy to get to shore. Never had any formal instruction; there were no sailing clubs / junior programs anywhere close.

Still going strong 41 years later. That Snark made several trips the beaches of South Carolina and was then passed down to cousins. Great investment. My path proves that formal programs, support boats and such are not required as long as you start in a good, safe body of water.

As for what age is appropriate to start, I can't comment since I wasn't born into a sailing family. My dad did not sail before we both started but he had always been interested. His requirement was that I became a good swimmer and understood water safety, which came via Boy Scouts. He waited for me to get interested and then we started together.

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What I learned on many Moons ago:

http://n10association.com/

Back then it was the Turnabout, popular in New England since it was made in Newburyport Mass.  Apparently still going strong up there.  All the technology of the 1950s though I recall them as decent sailors in a breeze, so-so in light air.  Big enough for two small kids, and way easier for and adult to shoehorn into than an Opti or an El Toro.

But if you're in an area where it's Optis, then Lasers or 420s, then go with the flow...

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Sunfish.  Easy to sail, doesn't swamp when capsized, has autobailer, rig is very adjustable for weight of sailor and wind conditions. If in trouble, the sail can be lowered. Located everywhere and CHEAP.

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What ever boat the other kids are sailing.

 

To start with, its all about confidence and if a child sees other children enjoying the sport, the chances are that he/she will take to it too.

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8 hours ago, GTim said:

Sunfish.  Easy to sail, doesn't swamp when capsized, has autobailer, rig is very adjustable for weight of sailor and wind conditions. If in trouble, the sail can be lowered. Located everywhere and CHEAP.

I fail to understand why any kid wants to sail and Opti.  A Sunfish is not too big, is much faster and can plane or surf. I learned in a Sunfish at age 6 can was racing by age 10 and still sail one on occasion.  I've taught dozens of Boy Scouts to sail using Sunfish for the reasons mentioned, plus you can put two 12 year old scouts in a Sunfish which gives them confidence.  You can find one for $500 to $1,000 and if they break it, there are new and used parts available.  They are much tougher than an overpriced Laser, and it's no big deal to repair one with some epoxy.  Every kid should know how to right a capsized sailboat and they Sunfish is great for that because you don't have to bail a bathtub full of water.  Did I mention they are unsinkable?

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1 hour ago, HookEm said:

I fail to understand why any kid wants to sail and Opti.  A Sunfish is not too big, is much faster and can plane or surf. I learned in a Sunfish at age 6 can was racing by age 10 and still sail one on occasion.  I've taught dozens of Boy Scouts to sail using Sunfish for the reasons mentioned, plus you can put two 12 year old scouts in a Sunfish which gives them confidence.  You can find one for $500 to $1,000 and if they break it, there are new and used parts available.  They are much tougher than an overpriced Laser, and it's no big deal to repair one with some epoxy.  Every kid should know how to right a capsized sailboat and they Sunfish is great for that because you don't have to bail a bathtub full of water.  Did I mention they are unsinkable?

 

I have to agree.  I grew up sailing Sunfish since I was around 8 or 9.  It had room for two kids or one kid and an adult.  Sometimes we would put four kids on a boat for fun when I was teen.  Sunfish is all our yacht club had.  If you wanted a laser, f5, or something fancier you had to go buy it.

 

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On 8/2/2017 at 0:57 AM, Grrr... said:

Optimists are pieces of shit.  Uncomfortable, perform like snot, are a total bitch in shallow water because of the daggerboard and the fixed rudder, and just love to turn turtle without a masthead float. You also can't fit an adult in an optimist with the kid, so unless the kid knows how to sail or you have a tender dighy, they suck. They're popular only because of the size of their racing fleets.

 The RS Tera beats it hands down.  As does the laser pico.  

Another thing you may want to consider is to get a small 2 hander.  Don't rig the jib and he'll still learn to sail on it, but when you want to have fun you can throw the jib on and go with him at a reasonable pace.

Well, there you have the Opti-hater peanut gallery. Most of the hate comes from the activities in the racing class, which can be just as bad as any youth sport with overprotective parents.

Actually, the Opti is a great little boat. For little people, like 50 lbs, it works very well because it does not take much strength or weight, it's stable, and kids siting down inside the boat are secure. It handles very well in light air or in heavy, because it's very responsive the kids learn quickly. It does turtle easily but one thing that teaches the kids s how to SAIL not spend all day capsizing because the weather is hot.

The Pico without a jib seems to get stuck in irons more easily than either an Opti or a Tera. OTOH once the kid learns the basics, he/she can take a friend along which is really great.

OTOH much depends on the instructor. An instructor that wants to drone on and on about apparent wind and Rule 18.3 is going to bore the shit out of the kids. My method was to break the basics of sailing down into individual skills which can be practiced, like steering with a tiller and righting the boat after a capsize. Each of these is practiced in seperate lessons so the kids get a break to run around, and by the time they have done all the sessions, putting together the individual skills is not difficult and the kids take to it happily.

FB- Doug

 

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14 hours ago, HookEm said:

I fail to understand why any kid wants to sail and Opti.  A Sunfish is not too big, is much faster and can plane or surf. I learned in a Sunfish at age 6

 

Really? The Sunfish is one hell of a lot bigger and faster and more powerful and heavier than an Opti. It also has a lot of bad sailing habits, like getting stuck in irons so bad that you need the Coast Guard to get out, chine-steering, and if you let go of the tiller in panic they will loop in a series of increasingly violent gybes.sh

There are a lot of 6 year olds who could handle a Sunfish, skill-wise, but it could easily get out of hand due to their arm reach, strength, and weight.

The good thing about Sunfish is that yes, they sail and yes, they are very common and inexpensive. Our area has Sunfish literally laying around for free. You can put an adult and a kid on it, with the idea that the kid will learn to sail. That often works. OTOH the reason I got started in the sailing coach business is that out of all my friends who wanted to teach their kids and grandkids to sail, none were successful and all the kids learned is that grown-ups are into some really boring shit when they're not pissed at you for no apparent reason.

FB- Doug

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Laser when he or she weigh 90#.

 

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I think Optimists are the work of the devil. Their name comes from the fact that you need to be an optimist to think they will move.

Kids have more fun sailing together, which means two-person dinghies.  Solo boats work for loners, but most kids are not loners.  We used Mirror dinghies, which are outdated now, but any simple under-canvassed two-hander works fine, provide it's easy to right after a capsize.

The other thing I reckon most adults get wrong is capsizing, introducing it after basic boat handling.  That means the adults worry about capsizes, while kids are frightened of it.  Not good for anyone.

So I start out with capsizes as the first thing.  Take them out accompanied, and start capsizing after a few minutes on the water.  Make it fun, like playing a pool.  Whee splash, hahaha.  Lots of laughing.

When they see how easy it is, they capsize the boat on me, trying to catch me out.  I reduce my role until they can right the boat themselves ... and they are ready to start leaning to actually sail, with them not frightened about a capsize and nobody else worried about them getting into trouble that way.

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  two legged...i was about to come up with 200 words on what a stupid post you wrote (you obviously didn't watch the skill of opti sailors in the previous video).....   and then I realized....you are just teaching kids to sail down on the bayou ....maybe in the holler when the creeks run high...or if I mistake your back country accent....in a quiet lagoon....  you arent teaching kids to race....    and this is I think where this whole thread pivots....   sunfish on a quiet lake for recreational sailors...or a mirror (pic below)...versus the aggressive bad ass kids in that opti video launching in waves at 20kts +     this isnt really a discussion....if you want to race....opti then laser...        if you want to fart around  maybe become a cruiser...then sunfish or mirror (?) or open bic...or RS Pico. to beneteau Oceanis...fine thats your path..      just do me the favour and watch that whole video and tell me that optis suck....      those waves would have any other 12 yo non opti sailor crying on the beach...not these kids...  do any of them look frightened ?...DETERMINED is the ethos of good opti sailors...

 

a mirror    wtf?  (is that kid 15-16yo?....look at him go....)

 

to_zinnowitz.jpg

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Hi,

      Optimists are a huge class for good reasons. That doesn't mean they are the perfect solution for everyone's problem but to write them off as the work of the devil or a piece of shit suggests a lack of understanding.

  Even if there is another boat that ticks the same boxes, it doesn't have the international class infrastructure that the Oppy does, and probably won't have it anytime soon. That counts for quite a bit. If a kid/parent wants to be able to race their dinghy locally but have the option open to move on to regional, national and international competition then the options will be pretty limited. Fans of SMODs should note that the Oppy one-design format allows sails, spars and even foils to be varied to suit the size of the sailor, extending the competitive life of both the boat and the sailor.

 One key thing to bear in mind is that it's very easy to sail an Oppy badly- if you are new to sailing, you are likely to be sailing badly so having a boat that is easy to sail that way is a Very Good Thing. It's less scary, less cold, and being less exciting is also generally a good thing at this stage. The boat is also very, very difficult to sail well... which means that the front end of the racing fleet is likely to be a challenging place to get to... hence the number of Olympians who learned to sail in Oppies.

  So, that's two groups of sailors well catered for- small kids learning to sail and kids that want competitive racing. Often I find that the first becomes the second pretty quickly!

Any boat is a compromise and no boat is ideal... In many ways what you are looking to do is minimise the bad points, especially those that are specific to your own situation (eg I teach small kids on cold water, keeping them dry helps a lot. eg2: a nearby club gets serious tidal flows, as a result they don't do very small kids and don't use Oppies).

 One other example I'd like to cite is of a parent who came to our club as a cruising sailor and was adamant that he didn't plan to get involved in racing, just wanted his kids to learn to sail- his younger son is now in our national junior programme and has qualified for several international event teams... things change :-)

 So, to the OP- I'd advise not focussing too much on the choice of boat but look harder at the opportunities in your area- if there's a good junior sailing programme at a club nearby then get engaged with that before buying a boat.

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6 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

I think Optimists are the work of the devil. Their name comes from the fact that you need to be an optimist to think they will move.

Kids have more fun sailing together, which means two-person dinghies.

Hah! We all know them and many of us learned in them because Clark Mills did a great job of designing something that could be built easily for little money and sailed by kids. Sailing together meant a fleet of them, or just a few, depending on who was around. If the answer was no one, I could still pick it up and sail it alone.

To the topic question, I'd say a Bic if the kid is little and a beach cat if the kid is older. Lakes get boring quickly and there are chicks at beaches...

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How young is too young?

My 3yr old is happy to go for a 20-40 min sail in 'his' boat most weekends when we go to the club as long as the weather is reasonable. We either start the first race of the morning and just do the first lap or launch just after the start and have a sail up & back through the fleet, depending how close to the club the start line is and what the weather is like. Sometimes we don't bother with the race area and just head off to look at something he has spotted. He likes to wave at the other boats, spot numbers on the race marks, try out all the different places to sit in the boat, play with the jib sheets and eat snacks. Occasionally he likes to steer.

We picked a boat that is designed for 2 teens to sail, but can be comfortably sailed single handed by a smallish adult (neither of us is that big). If you go down this route with a little kid though its worth making sure that the boat is properly set up for single handing & that you can reach any control you are likely to need in a hurry.

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As a kid I sailed various boats, some of which I can't remember the names. Sprites, Albacores, Lasers, any dinghy lying around, then windsurfers, Hobies etc. 

One boat that stands out as the most fun for a 12 year old kid was something called a 'Flipper'. You could put one or two kids on it, one 12 year old could go main only (if I recall correctly), and we used to have dry capsize contests to see who could do the most w/o falling in the water. Easy to manage and lighter than a laser for a 12 year old. The memories get more vague...hope I've got the right boat.

 

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Learned sailing the parents big boat. Solo'd around 8 years old on a AMF Puffer around a lake. Sailed that boat most summers until I was older. Also Sunfish in scout camp. Honestly I would say a little 12' dinghy so you can sit with them at first is a great idea. But that's just me. 

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7 minutes ago, forty six & 2 said:

Learned sailing the parents big boat. Solo'd around 8 years old on a AMF Puffer around a lake. Sailed that boat most summers until I was older. Also Sunfish in scout camp. Honestly I would say a little 12' dinghy so you can sit with them at first is a great idea. But that's just me. 

There's an age at which the kids do GREAT sailing with parents/grandparents, learning tasks within their strength, occasionally steering, playing with rubber duckies etc etc. Then there's a sharp dividing line where they need to get away from the old farts and do stuff with other kids. This is where a good junior program comes in handy. And boats they can handle themselves.

The Puffer is a cool little boat, highly underrated. I have one myself ;)

FB- Doug

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On 8/3/2017 at 11:30 PM, TwoLegged said:

I think Optimists are the work of the devil. Their name comes from the fact that you need to be an optimist to think they will move.

Kids have more fun sailing together, which means two-person dinghies.  Solo boats work for loners, but most kids are not loners.  We used Mirror dinghies, which are outdated now, but any simple under-canvassed two-hander works fine, provide it's easy to right after a capsize.

The other thing I reckon most adults get wrong is capsizing, introducing it after basic boat handling.  That means the adults worry about capsizes, while kids are frightened of it.  Not good for anyone.

So I start out with capsizes as the first thing.  Take them out accompanied, and start capsizing after a few minutes on the water.  Make it fun, like playing a pool.  Whee splash, hahaha.  Lots of laughing.

When they see how easy it is, they capsize the boat on me, trying to catch me out.  I reduce my role until they can right the boat themselves ... and they are ready to start leaning to actually sail, with them not frightened about a capsize and nobody else worried about them getting into trouble that way.

I agree completely.  After swim test, capsize is next before any sailing. Two kids on a boat makes is a lot more fun and I think they learn more than with an adult on board.

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On 4/8/2017 at 5:59 AM, Kingstonsail said:

  two legged...i was about to come up with 200 words on what a stupid post you wrote (you obviously didn't watch the skill of opti sailors in the previous video).....   and then I realized....you are just teaching kids to sail down on the bayou ....maybe in the holler when the creeks run high...or if I mistake your back country accent....in a quiet lagoon....  you arent teaching kids to race....    and this is I think where this whole thread pivots....   sunfish on a quiet lake for recreational sailors...or a mirror (pic below)...versus the aggressive bad ass kids in that opti video launching in waves at 20kts +     this isn't really a discussion....if you want to race....opti then laser...        if you want to fart around  maybe become a cruiser...then sunfish or mirror (?) or open bic...or RS Pico. to beneteau Oceanis...fine thats your path..      just do me the favour and watch that whole video and tell me that optis suck....      those waves would have any other 12 yo non opti sailor crying on the beach...not these kids...  do any of them look frightened ?...DETERMINED is the ethos of good opti sailors...

Kingstonsail, you make a lot of bizarre assumptions about me on the basis of no evidence, and unsurprisingly, you get it all wrong.  (Just like you get punctuation wrong. Sentences end with a full stop, not an ellipsis. If you want to call other people "stupid", try to write as if you had passed your junior school's first-year English class)

I'm Irish.  In Ireland, we don't have "creeks [which] run high", 'cos we don't have a dry season.  Apart from once-in-a-generation summer of sun, we have a wet season in the middle of the year, and the rest of the time it's even wetter.

Ireland is a windy country.  It's a 150-mile-wide island, so nobody is more than a good day's bicycle-ride from the coast where the prevailing westerly winds charge in off the ocean; it is not a 2,000-mile-wide continent where the coast can be several days drive away.  We don't have windless creeks, but we have lots of areas where the winds are so routinely fierce that the only trees left are bent over like a wizened man leaning on a stick.

I was sailing Mirrors by the regularly by time I was 10, and moved onto 420s when I was 14 (proper 420s, with spinnaker and trapeze, not the pathetic Club 420s).  When I was 15, I pitch-poled my 420, having taken it out on a day when keelboat racing was cancelled cos the weather was too fierce. If you want to get an idea of the wind needed to do that, look at how broad and buoyant a 420 bow is.

In Mirrors and 420s, we routinely launched in conditions like those in the video; we broke masts and lots of other gear.   Several of my fellow-teens who followed the same path went on to international success in 470s, and in offshore racing.  Some of the less sociable ones did international compeititions in Lasers.  That video isn't "bad-ass"; it's just a normal windy day.

It seems that in the North America, serious  dinghy racing is now almost all Lasers.  Not so in Europe, where a variety of two-person dinghies are thriving -- especially in the UK & Ireland.

That's why you start your kids off in a  "boat" shaped like the box it came in, with a hankerchief sail.  It's a way of winnowing out the kids who like sailing with someone else or who seek a little excitement, which is why the drop-out rate after North American junior sailing courses is precipitous.

One of the fun things kids can do in 2-person boat is raids: sail up to another dinghy, and the attacker's crew jump ship to capsize the "enemy" before being picked up by the helm. You can't do that if the helm is the only person board (cos the attacking boat sails away empty), and it's mean to do it to a Weetabix-box which swamps when capsized.

Mirrors are antiques now.  There are much better two-person starter boats.  So do your kids a favour: stop torturing them in loner's Weetabix-boxes, and let them have fun in real boats.  That way some of them might still be sailing when they are 20, your harbours might not all be filled in to build apartments, and your boatbuilders might not be folding as as an amphetamine-fuelled origami compeitition.

PS You're wrong about my accent too.  It's more like Sinead O'Connor, only I'm nowhere near as pretty ... and the Garda Síochána warn me that my singing is a war crime

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9 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

....   ...   ...   ...

It seems that in the North America, serious  dinghy racing is now almost all Lasers.  Not so in Europe, where a variety of two-person dinghies are thriving -- especially in the UK & Ireland.

That's why you start your kids off in a  "boat" shaped like the box it came in, with a hankerchief sail.  It's a way of winnowing out the kids who like sailing with someone else or who seek a little excitement, which is why the drop-out rate after North American junior sailing courses is precipitous.

One of the fun things kids can do in 2-person boat is raids: sail up to another dinghy, and the attacker's crew jump ship to capsize the "enemy" before being picked up by the helm. You can't do that if the helm is the only person board (cos the attacking boat sails away empty), and it's mean to do it to a Weetabix-box which swamps when capsized.

....    ...    ...    ...

I would be glad to sing along with your lament here, except that you badly misjudged the Opti. All of the things people blame it for, are not the poor boats' fault.

About the Opti- it was designed to be an inexpensive father-son project that would actually sail; thousands of them were built inexpensively and then handed off to kids. In some cases it might be because the father was busy sailing his own boat, or perhaps built the boat as a nice project but didn't sail. Either way, the boat sails quite well and it's sized for little kids. Any body over about 4'8" (1.44m in real measure) is too large for the boat. About my opinion- I started out ten years ago, having not sailed an Opti when young but a lifelong sailor, tasked with 1- keeping kids around the sailing club out of the grown-ups hair and 2- inexpensively teaching them to sail if possible; we acquired some cast-off Optis and fixed them up a bit and although I disliked the boat at first, when observing I realized that it sails quite well. Clark Mills got the areas and proportions and shapes right, it's a good boat.

About why kids drop out- many reasons but the foremost I see is that most junior sailing programs are not "sailing" programs. They are day-care with boats. They are efficient though, kind of a double day care for older teens hired as instructors as well as the younger students. They are not given a good curriculum and not given good examples of anything except "hammer the brats into racing-racing-RACING" and the result is that kids 1- don't learn to sail very well therefor they don't have much confidence and they don't enjoy it for it's own sake and 2- the work is done for them so as soon as this stops, they have no interest in continuing. I was a volunteer, no vested interest plus dealing with my friends kids and grandkids, I was going to make sailors out of them.

Back to the topic- I think there are a LOT of great boats for beginners. It should sail well; that is, it should sail along smartly on all points and maneuver reliably and consistently; it should be of high enough performance to reward good sail trim and steering and make mistakes obvious... but it should also be stable and forgiving enough that mistakes are not too painful. There are a lot of boats out there which are NOT suitable for beginners, design for higher performance at the cost of quirks and idiosyncrasies... and there are still a few remnants of the 'glory days' when people who had no business going into the sailboat business did so anyway, and produced boats that sail badly. The best example of this I can think of is the MFG Pintail which mercifully you will never see in your home country, a disaster of a boat which is underpowered yet tippy, difficult to steer on a steady course and has an uncomfortable cockpit layout. SA'er Gouvernail worked for the company which built these, and his assessment is harsher than mine, having once suggested that their best use is as a sled on a steep snowy hill... once (maybe onto a highway).

Sorry, didn't mean to type out a whole book.

FB- Doug

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57 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

 I think there are a LOT of great boats for beginners. It should sail well; that is, it should sail along smartly on all points and maneuver reliably and consistently; it should be of high enough performance to reward good sail trim and steering and make mistakes obvious... but it should also be stable and forgiving enough that mistakes are not too painful.

Hard to argue with this.

I would add that some of twoleggeds points are very valid, I also grew up with sailing 'programs' that did not emphasize racing at all. We went out and sailed, mainly 2 person boats, on a small lake or the sea. We had all sorts of other stuff we did, including 'raids'  though typically for those it was a case of sailing toppers, 4 people 3 boats, and some weird and complex rules about who had to pick up the extra person.

 

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On 8/1/2017 at 1:49 PM, SailNDive said:

We live on a pretty protected lake (though also very close to the ocean...see attached screenshot.) We have to make it under a powerline to get out to the main lake (though we are only the second lot in from the main lake so not too far to get down a canal).

What sailboat is the best kind to teach a young child to sail?

 

Lake Osborn screenshot.jpg

Out of curiosity which lake on the chart?  I used to spend every x-mas in the area and spent time at Okeheelee (sp?) Rec area and also Lake Ida, watch for gators-lol.

That said as other posters have mentioned filling in the blanks here would help, how old/weight, etc and also if the goal is to have them sail solo or with you or someone else in the boat as instructor.  If solo and they are smaller/younger then I would suggest a more modern version of the Opti-the Open Bic.  If the goal is someone else in the boat to provide instruction, (so two people) then my vote would be for the Sunfish as it was/is a boat you can grow into and also a boat you can sail from beginning to very late in life.

Just my 2cents FWIW. 

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Another vote for El Toro.

 

My parents bribed me into getting straight As in 4th grade by offering to buy me a sailing dinghy if I did.  Photo was in 1990, I was 11 years old, but started sailing in this boat alone at 9.  My Dad could sail it with me, unlike an Optimist.  A little tight, but do-able.  Younger sister and brother with me.

Don't ask about sail trim :wacko:  This boat was $100 from a person moving out of the area having a "MUST SELL ALL" Sale... :) 

Mr. Perry is correct, at that age and weight, alone, El Toro is screaming fast (relatively speaking).

Never once capsized that thing.  Water over the gunwales MANY times, though.  Never had a hiking stick or hiking straps, would have been even better with those!

PICT0011.JPG

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Learning to sail on an Opti is fine..for that week.. unless you are planing on enrolling into an all opti program and joining opti races for a few years,  I would def go for the sunfish  esp. if you guys just plan on personal use...Why? well for one, the sunfish is just as easy to learn on. 2 you or other members of the family ie adults..can also use it..3 the child can grow with it.. If the child is really young..like 5 years old.. use a very small sail... my son learned to sail at 5 yrs old in a day I myself had summer sailing lessons  on a sabot in a  2 week summer  program  when I was 12.. then after that about a week later I bought a hobie 12 with the money i saved from summer work... by 15 I was sailing hobie 16's by myself and by 16years old I started teaching sailing to adults on everything from Hobies to small keel boats.. My point is.. when your young, sailing can transition  quickly  into higher levels.. you asked how young is too young..make sure they are old enough to talk...if they can swim, they can sail

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edit..how did I teach my kid to sail in a day?  I got in the water holding the boat with him in it. "pretending to sail"I put the boat into all points of sail having him trim the sail for up wind, down wind, go through the motions of tack, jibe (gybe) ect. after that I i had him do a series of very short  course ( starting at a few feet to several at first) tacks and jibes each time  getting a little  farther away from me as he got better..in a very short time he was just going where ever he wanted to sail completely  under control..after that I enrolled him into a youth sailing program...but he wasn't a team player and would just break away and sail off on his own doing his own thing... some people are racers...some people are cruisers I guess... I never forced the issue of YOU MUST SAIL with him. He flies airplanes now...He says its like sailing in the sky

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1 hour ago, captpiratedog said:

 

edit..how did I teach my kid to sail in a day?  I got in the water holding the boat with him in it. "pretending to sail"I put the boat into all points of sail having him trim the sail for up wind, down wind, go through the motions of tack, jibe (gybe) ect. after that I i had him do a series of very short  course ( starting at a few feet to several at first) tacks and jibes each time  getting a little  farther away from me as he got better..in a very short time he was just going where ever he wanted to sail completely  under control..after that I enrolled him into a youth sailing program...but he wasn't a team player and would just break away and sail off on his own doing his own thing... some people are racers...some people are cruisers I guess... I never forced the issue of YOU MUST SAIL with him. He flies airplanes now...He says its like sailing in the sky

Excellent stuff... great minds think alike.

598b17d996fda_AllisonMaddyandDoug3_op.jpg.8f5cd5352c98557c26accaf6dd7cc69a.jpg

I bet you made it fun, let him discover stuff for himself, and threw enough challenges at him to keep him busy and also on an upward curve. I don't know why more youth program aren't like this. I will say it's a lot of work to do it right. But the result is worth it.

FB- Doug

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9 hours ago, nlmasopust said:

Another vote for El Toro.

 

My parents bribed me into getting straight As in 4th grade by offering to buy me a sailing dinghy if I did.  Photo was in 1990, I was 11 years old, but started sailing in this boat alone at 9.  My Dad could sail it with me, unlike an Optimist.  A little tight, but do-able.  Younger sister and brother with me.

Don't ask about sail trim :wacko:  This boat was $100 from a person moving out of the area having a "MUST SELL ALL" Sale... :) 

Mr. Perry is correct, at that age and weight, alone, El Toro is screaming fast (relatively speaking).

Never once capsized that thing.  Water over the gunwales MANY times, though.  Never had a hiking stick or hiking straps, would have been even better with those!

PICT0011.JPG

I forgot in addition to the AMF we had a Dyer knockoff sailing dink for awhile Parents used to let me and my little brother take it around great salt pond and napatree when we were around 10. 

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On 8/2/2017 at 1:10 PM, teamvmg said:

What ever boat the other kids are sailing.

 

To start with, its all about confidence and if a child sees other children enjoying the sport, the chances are that he/she will take to it too.

This. Whatever the instructors are using/whatever the other kids are learning in in that area

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Check out topaz.  Used to run a sailing school and remember talking to them about a full fleet.  1 hull, 5 rigging packages.  Start kids with main only, go to main and jib, then theres an asym option.  Theyre plastic so really hard to break.

At the time i remember thinking it was a great option.  Didnt have the money for a whole fleet but recall thinking it was smart.

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On 09/08/2017 at 4:49 PM, nlmasopust said:

Never once capsized that thing.  Water over the gunwales MANY times, though.  Never had a hiking stick or hiking straps, would have been even better with those!

PICT0011.JPG

Clearly you weren't trying hard enough. I vaguely recall deliberately capsizing my Mirror at times to test it's limits. Did it one day a few too many times and were a bit tired from the righting, so we could not be bothered climbing back onboard and sailed it to shore hanging off the side. 

I still think that the best boat is what everyone else is sailing locally in the same age range.

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On 8/9/2017 at 7:49 AM, captpiratedog said:

Learning to sail on an Opti is fine..for that week.. unless you are planing on enrolling into an all opti program and joining opti races for a few years,  I would def go for the sunfish  esp. if you guys just plan on personal use...Why? well for one, the sunfish is just as easy to learn on. 2 you or other members of the family ie adults..can also use it..3 the child can grow with it.. If the child is really young..like 5 years old.. use a very small sail... my son learned to sail at 5 yrs old in a day I myself had summer sailing lessons  on a sabot in a  2 week summer  program  when I was 12.. then after that about a week later I bought a hobie 12 with the money i saved from summer work... by 15 I was sailing hobie 16's by myself and by 16years old I started teaching sailing to adults on everything from Hobies to small keel boats.. My point is.. when your young, sailing can transition  quickly  into higher levels.. you asked how young is too young..make sure they are old enough to talk...if they can swim, they can sail

Our Community Sailing Center uses Sunfish and Opti's for the Kids Camps. Little ones use Opti's until they can lift one end of a Sunfish up onto a rack. If you can't put it away properly with one helper, you can't sail it. This also tends to ensure that they're heavy enough to right a Sunfish.

 

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I agree with the Sunfish crowd....Optis totally suck and here's why.  This looks like a warm water location, south of West Palm, FL.  Capsizing is fun and educational in a Sunfish which can be "righted".  Capsizing in an Opti is a totally terrifying experience for a kid.  Who wouldn't be scared when you are in a boat that can't be "righted" and your options are waiting to be rescued or waiting to get washed up on shore like a dead flounder?  I never got the whole Opti thing.  Just because there are a lot of them makes them "good"?  They don't even get up on a plane, how boring is that for a kid?  Sunfish do not require the sailor to be tall and as strong as a Laser because, with hiking, they are hard-chined, and go up wind fine without having to be hiked flat.  You can sail one with an adult the first few times. They get on a plane easily and can be left on shore with the mast up and sail furled, unlike a Laser which requires some strength to raise and insert the mast into the deck every time.  Once the kid is a bit older, move 'em up to the Laser.  Sailing is about fun.  Optis don't look like much fun to me. The O'pen Bic looks cool too, but you can pick up a used Sunfish cheaply. Go with the Sunfish.

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33 minutes ago, premiumunleaded said:

Optis totally suck and here's why.  .....  Capsizing in an Opti is a totally terrifying experience for a kid.  Who wouldn't be scared when you are in a boat that can't be "righted" and your options are waiting to be rescued or waiting to get washed up on shore like a dead flounder?  ............

I don't know where you got the idea that Optis can't be righted but that is incorrect. One of the good points about Optis is that even quite small kids can right them and self-rescue with them.

A sailing teacher who does not know how to handle the boat is dangerous. It's not the boats' fault at all.

FB- Doug

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I look at it this way. I've got a perfectly good Opti that I need to sell because my kid hasn't wanted to sail it for for years and never seemed to really enjoy it.  I've also got a few much older Sunfish that I don't plan to sell because kids and myself still enjoy sailing them. 

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On 2017-08-02 at 0:24 PM, Alan Crawford said:

Learned when I was about 12 years old, in parallel with my dad, on a large pond / really small lake in Kentucky on a $150 Snark (there's a thread about these boats somewhere around) purchased from a box store like K-mart / Wal-Mart. We had a couple "learn to sail books" including one put out by AMF that focused on a Sunfish. We would take turns single-handing (boat too small for both of us). If it started blowing too hard (pretty rare for Kentucky in the middle of the Summer) it was easy to get to shore. Never had any formal instruction; there were no sailing clubs / junior programs anywhere close.

Still going strong 41 years later. That Snark made several trips the beaches of South Carolina and was then passed down to cousins. Great investment. My path proves that formal programs, support boats and such are not required as long as you start in a good, safe body of water.

As for what age is appropriate to start, I can't comment since I wasn't born into a sailing family. My dad did not sail before we both started but he had always been interested. His requirement was that I became a good swimmer and understood water safety, which came via Boy Scouts. He waited for me to get interested and then we started together.

So we scoured the countryside looking for the best dinghy to teach the kids to sail, and found the perfect one: a Sunflower.  Lessons on!

Just kidding.  Half kidding.  Someone gave us an ancient Sunflower that still floats and has all the equipment intact, so that's what the kids are learning on.  And on the Tanzer concurrently, but the Sunflower is more exciting...  near as I can .tell this is almost the same as a Snark, 10' foam boat, and it says Snark on the sail (not the original though).  Big enough - just - that I can be a passenger with one 10-year old or two 8-year olds aboard.

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On 2017-08-15 at 10:01 AM, premiumunleaded said:

 They don't even get up on a plane, how boring is that for a kid?

They do.  I don't know the lower wind limit, though.  Seems to me that at a regatta I did mark boat on there was plenty of planing at around the 20kt wind range, but that was a while ago, don't remember for sure.

 

 

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1 hour ago, HookEm said:

I look at it this way. I've got a perfectly good Opti that I need to sell because my kid hasn't wanted to sail it for for years and never seemed to really enjoy it.  I've also got a few much older Sunfish that I don't plan to sell because kids and myself still enjoy sailing them. 

Sounds like they already learned ... they don't need it any more

:D

Most of the things that people blame the Opti for is either not the boat's fault, or out of ignorance (or both). If rigged incorrectly, yes they suck. And they're not intuitive for most grown-up sailors who aren't familiar with them, and approach the boat thinking "what a little shitbox, how hard can it be." OTOH the kids all love the SNOTTER (one my favorite sailing terms too)

The bad characteristics I can think of have their plus sides. They swamp when capsized, and need to be bailed out. This gets the kids sailing instead of capsizing all day for fun. They are really only a one-person boat, but this means the kid has to focus on sailing not nattering about, and they can't squabble or blame each other.

The single worst thing about the Opti is it's looks. I think many people just can't get past that.

FB- Doug

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Our kids seem to have the most fun when they sail with a group of other kids. They love summer sailing camps. That is basically why we ended up getting Optis for them. There are many summer sailing camps for Optis and most of those camp are bring-your-own-boat camps. They learn a lot in camp and after the summer, they are fired up about sailing and enjoy sailing their Optis on their own a couple of times during the fall.

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On 8/4/2017 at 0:44 AM, Steam Flyer said:

Well, there you have the Opti-hater peanut gallery. Most of the hate comes from the activities in the racing class, which can be just as bad as any youth sport with overprotective parents.

Actually, the Opti is a great little boat. For little people, like 50 lbs, it works very well because it does not take much strength or weight, it's stable, and kids siting down inside the boat are secure. It handles very well in light air or in heavy, because it's very responsive the kids learn quickly. It does turtle easily but one thing that teaches the kids s how to SAIL  BAIL

 

On 8/4/2017 at 0:44 AM, Steam Flyer said:

 

 

 

Anything but an Optimist.

Optis are the most soul destroying little shit boxes ever foisted on junior sailing. They are seriously unresponsive and frustrating as all fuck for beginners. The lack of any sort of automatic bailing method has driven more kids and families out of sailing than I can count and I was involved in training juniors for over ten years. Beginners dont want to spend half their training time bailing out their boats while the other kids sail away. Saying its a disincentive to capsizing is crap becaise the little fuckers will capsize on a hot day but more particularly on windy day or when there are bigger waves. More likely they will nose-dive going downwind . Unfortunately the yacht clubs here got sold a pup via the National body with a sail training program devised by the bloke marketing Opti's so thats pretty much what they all use. The boat is just wrong on all levels and the program under delivers by a long way from its published list of proficiencies. And I wont even start on that sick circus that has developed around the "high-level" Opti racing circuit.

1798590_743609918984940_1421385194_n.thumb.jpg.5d9dd22a46ce656963eacaea521e3108.jpg

 

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Did anyone else learn to sail on a North Star Dory?  I don't remember what they looked like, but I do remember losing many races. I was 5 or 6 & the captain - my oldest sister - was 10 or 11. 

We later had an El Toro & that was a perfect tender/sailing dinghy.

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I learned on Optis when I was around 7yo, then taught/coached a mixed fleet of Opti and Topaz Taz in NZ, and loved the Taz. Fits grownup + kid reasonably well, and kids can sail solo or two handed. Carries main and optional jib, self bailing, tons of fun. Rotomolded so you can play bumper-boats.

So I got a Taz for my kid when he was 5, then 6 months later got a second one so he could solo and I'd sail along. He's 7 now and is asking whether I can rig up a trapeze wire for him (!?). He can handle shifty/gusty up to 15kt; we run little races,  take his friends out, play bumper boats, shoot water guns.

You can sometimes spot a second hand Taz for very reasonable money. We'll probably sell these two in a year or two. Only downside is hull weight, but I'd rather help him on the ramp a bit than find myself fixing fiberglass every second weekend.

Here's a quick video - 

 

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I hate optis.  Granted, they are super popular, especially in Europe where it can be very windy. The Opti with its square main has a low center of effort and can handle higher winds more common there. Here on the west coast, it is more commonly light air. That being said, the El Toro is very popular in San Francisco, not generally known as a light air area, but in the winter, i'ts light making the boat more versatile.

My son started in an Opti in Seattle and hated it, as did an olympic gold medalist' sailors son. Both kids are the same age, and with avid racers for parents, got an early start. I took my son out in 30 K on a Hobie 33 K when he was 2 weeks old. He slept quite happily down below. I don,t know what feelings he may unconsciously remember, but he is an avid racer at 33 yo. Sailing the Opti at SYC almost cured him. My friends son rarely sails. When my father brought his Sabot (#7) up, my boy took right to it for its faster more fun performance. I had a series of high performance boats, Hobie 33, Olson 30, and he drove them on day sails, and cruising. That got him reinterested in sailing again, but after aar of cruising, we returned to San Diego where he said he didn't want to sail anymore, until the day Vince Brun asked  him to sail his Lehman 12 in an evening race. He won a couple of races, and was hooked again. The Lehman 12  is a shitty little boat, but his friends were sailing them, so it was fun and we bought one for him to race. He did well and helped us win the fleet champs. He sailing in the light, me in a breeze. When he started PLHS, he joined the sailing team sailing club 420's. The PLHS team  is made up mostly of local kids who grew up sailing Sabots in the SDYC junior program. PLHS has won more Mallory cup,(HS NA championships) than any other school. SDYC also has a ton of Olympians. All of the above started in Sabots .They're better trainers. SDYC has some optis, but the kids just won't sail them.

My point is ,most  of these kids parents sail and the kids prefer the Sabot for it's speed, something the Opti just doesn't have for moderate conditions.

One last thing not yet brought up is that sailndive needs to get under powerlines. The stumpy rig of an Opti or sailfish might be just what he needs.

Sorry for the book!

 

 

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My recommendation for kids under 12 is to get a Topper Taz / RS Tera / Laser Pico. 

These boats are large enough that you can get on the boat and sail with them, but the boat size, forces and reaction times are all kid-size. Being on the boat with them is key -- better and cheaper than having a coach boat!

So you start doing/showing, then you hand over tasks while you still help and guide. Then you switch to hands-off mode, you're just a passenger, they do all they do all the sailing. Then you get off the boat :-)

I started with mine at 5yo and I was off the boat at about 2 months. We'd sail together to a sandbar, and I'd get off there, and he'd sail around me. Soon after I bought a second boat to race against him.

These boats are also nice in that once they get rid of the grownup; they're good for 2-3 kids. And rotomolded, they're indestructible.

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On 8/2/2017 at 10:22 AM, SailNDive said:

Thanks for all the responses... so I guess the next logical question is how young is too young? 

My son started joining me on small catamarans around 2 and half or 3. Hobie Waves. He was good at the helm.

Kids _love_ driving/steering something that moves.

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Sometimes kids just enjoy being on the boat. Had a cat rigged 8' boat and the three-to-five year old liked to sit in front of the mast, while we cruised up and down the beach. A few years later, the same kid asks to borrow the boat for a solo trip. Wanted to prove to himself he could do it. He could. That's all he wanted; while he has a natural feel for boats, he doesn't enjoy sailing, and certainly not racing. So, start somewhere, be ready to adjust, but also to back off, if it's not their thing.

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Florida. Get whatever keeps the alligators, water snakes and floating fire ant colonies out of the cockpit. 

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On 8/3/2017 at 0:22 AM, SailNDive said:

Thanks for all the responses... so I guess the next logical question is how young is too young? 

My youngest son did his first Wednesday race when he was 8 days old. Of course he only helmed on the reach. He was a big to young to steer up the first windward leg..

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On 8/9/2017 at 10:41 PM, captpiratedog said:

 

edit..how did I teach my kid to sail in a day? 

Of course this all depends on your definition of 'Learnt to sail'...

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38 minutes ago, LB 15 said:

Of course this all depends on your definition of 'Learnt to sail'...

yes... I guess so...  there is a very broad definition of sailing I suppose ..which brings to mind : What is sailing? or What does sailing mean to you ? Is it a life stlye or is it a sport?... What is the psychology of what it means to be a sailor? .... If we can teach a young child in one day to correctly sail away from and return  to their starting point without any help, did they just start to learn how to sail?..What does it mean to learn how to sail and do you ever in you life actually stop learning? Not to get too far out there, but I think we can see here  that many people have different perspectives to the OP's question  as to what is the best boat to teach a child how to sail.As well as just as many perspectives to the above questions... so Yes... It all depends

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3 hours ago, captpiratedog said:

If we can teach a young child in one day to correctly sail away from and return  to their starting point without any help, did they just start to learn how to sail?

No. I don't see anything in your description about how the kid got the sail on the boat and the boat in the water, nor anything about how everything was properly put away at the end.

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42 minutes ago, Uncooperative Tom said:

No. I don't see anything in your description about how the kid got the sail on the boat and the boat in the water, nor anything about how everything was properly put away at the end.

That would be in " Boat launching , Rigging and Maintenance for kids Forum"

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I remember getting slapped in the face for dropping the sponge overboard on our Barnegat 17' in 1971 when I was just 4 years old. We had been sailin that boat for a couple of years but  I didn't anticipate the gust of wind for some reason and as I went to squeeze the former contents of the cockpit back to its side of the boat we heeled to port and the sponge was ripped out of my hand. My Dad got the side of my face before the sponge got to the transom. We tacked around and I had to grab it and bring it back in while the other 5 kids and Mom had to watch. I got it and another slap on the other side for making my Dad have to take a starboard tack. 

That was the way it was back then...

Next memory is sailing program at 6 years old as a crew on a pram. From then on it was a fun experience for the most part.

Some kids just didn't like it and were forced into it. I felt bad for them. Nobody forced me...

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5 hours ago, captpiratedog said:

yes... I guess so...  there is a very broad definition of sailing I suppose ..which brings to mind : What is sailing? or What does sailing mean to you ? Is it a life stlye or is it a sport?... What is the psychology of what it means to be a sailor? .... If we can teach a young child in one day to correctly sail away from and return  to their starting point without any help, did they just start to learn how to sail?..What does it mean to learn how to sail and do you ever in you life actually stop learning? Not to get too far out there, but I think we can see here  that many people have different perspectives to the OP's question  as to what is the best boat to teach a child how to sail.As well as just as many perspectives to the above questions... so Yes... It all depends

Yep, it sure does.

http://nbnjrotc-sail.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-does-it-mean-to-be-sailor.html

IMHO being a sailor is the coolest thing any person can be, except maybe an astronaut (I used to say fighter pilot, but I've known some fighter pilots that were jerks). A sailor has to be resourceful, observant, to have initiative, to be a capable and reliable team member. Making any kid into a sailor is the best thing you can do for them.

and as CPD said above, you never stop learning. Kids won't appreciate this but that is what keeps a lot of us coming back.

Getting back to the OP's question about the best boat, it's kind of funny to see people talk about how awful the Opti is. There are a lot of great boats which would do very well for teaching; as long as the instructor has the right skills & some empathy with the kids. For example, the NJROTC program linked above used Oday Javelins, which are boxy little wagons. But they are simple and rugged boats, they handle well, and once the kids learn enough to be turned loose in them, they have a blast.

P1230081op1-fleet.jpg

I also help with a sailing club program, with mostly younger kids. Having a boat they can singlehand is important, because they don't have any distractions, they don't have anybody to do it for them, and they don't have any excuses. As I've said before, I think the Opti is a fine little boat for this. However it doesn't mean just letting the kids go; we spend two or three days worth of building up their skills, and their familiarity, so that when they are turned loose to sail, for real, they don't have to think about the tiller or heeling or a dozen other things, they are already familiar and comfortable with that. Having and adult in the boat to show them -can- be good but my experience is that the sooner kids go on their own, the happier they are and the quicker they learn. 99% of adults cannot help doing it for them, and all the kid learns is that having a rope or tiller ripped out of his hands is no fun.

FB- Doug

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Clark Mills in Sailing Hall of Fame

Oddly enough, one searches the article in vain for any mention of his crowning achievement, the Sun Cat.

It seems pretty focused on the Optimist Pram. I have heard that Mr. Mills was a pleasant fellow and probably wouldn't caption this image as I would.

428478928_19983138_8col.jpg

But I would:             Suck it, Opti haters!

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