Optimist History

House Salad

Anarchist
931
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WLIS
.... ... 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?

 

maxman

New member
45
11
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.

 

Gouvernail

Lottsa people don’t know I’m famous
37,993
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Austin Texas
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

 
.... ... 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.

 

kent_island_sailor

Super Anarchist
27,218
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Kent Island!
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?
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
44,188
9,572
Eastern NC
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

 

Rawhide

Super Anarchist
1,899
99
Pittwater
.... ... 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.

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,639
1,209
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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CaptainAhab

Anarchist
844
230
South Australia
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.

 

House Salad

Anarchist
931
5
WLIS
.... ... 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.

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

[SIZE=12pt]Ø [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]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![/SIZE]

[SIZE=12pt]Ø [/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]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.[/SIZE]

 
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fastyacht

Super Anarchist
12,928
2,596
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.

 
[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.

 

dacapo

Super Anarchist
13,620
1,568
NY
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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