Getting Started

Getting started in the Optimist Fleet is an exciting time as for many it is the starting point for a lifetime of enjoyment to the sport of sailing.  It is critical to proceed at the sailors speed of learning with the focus on enjoyment.  The Optimist is an incredibly stable and robust boat in a variety of conditions so perfect for the gradual development of sailors confidence and skills.

We hope to provide you with further information to assist with the following.

  • Where to buy an Optimist?
  • How do I register the boat in my name?
  • Check out the list of clubs around New Zealand where you can access training?
What is NZIODA and why should I join?

NZIODA is an acronym for New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association.  NZIODA is a parent volunteer committee who support the juniors in getting the most out of this wonderful life experience.

The aims of NZIODA are:

  • Arrange training and development opportunities for sailors
  • Promote the Optimist dinghy to yacht clubs, kids and parents considering the Optimist as the boat to train young people
Why are Optimists designed for learning skills to children and young teens?
  • They can handle them without danger, fear or back-strain
  • It is sailed in over 120 countries around the world
  • Over 350 children in New Zealand sail them in clubs around the country
  • Single-handed they learn to make decisions
  • Over 250,000 children and young teens have learnt to sail an Optimist
  • The only junior class in New Zealand offering international competition and travel
  • The Optimist is the biggest dinghy class in the world
  • Your local sailing club has them
  • The only single-hander dinghy recognised by the ISAF, the world organising body for sailing, exclusively for under 16s
  • A high percentage of Olympic medalists at the last Olympics were Optimist sailors
At what age should I start sailing an Opti?

Children should start sailing as soon as they are confident near water, usually it’s around 8 or 9 but there are six year olds sailing Opti’s in New Zealand.  Sailing builds self-reliance, physical strength, quick thinking and a love of the environment.  Talk to your local sailing club and ask them about Learn to Sail courses that they run – some run these in the school holidays.  The coaches and club members can assist and support you to understand more.  As with other sports it’s a great way to make new friends and learning with other children makes it even more fun!

How long can I sail an Optimist?

Initially the focus is on confidence and boat handling but as the sailors confidence and skills grow the class offers opportunities for fleet racing.  Green fleet racing is in sheltered waters and is a simple introducdtion to the open racing fleets and inter-club competition.  The class moves either into White Fleet and onto Open or directly into the more competitive Open fleet.  At Open level sailors enter national regattas and are ranked for representing New Zealand in international competitions.

A skipper can only raced Optimists until December 31 in the year they turn 15.  On December 31 of that year, they are what’s called “aged out” of the Optimist Class and can no longer race the boat.  In addition competitive sailors are rarely over 50 kgs.

More information on understand Optimist Age more detail can be found here.

Where is my local club?

Check out the list of clubs around the country here.

What will it cost?

$3,000 to $8,000 for a pre-owned boat.  Brand new around $10,000.  Remember when you sell your Optimist you have the price of a second-hand International Class dinghy like a Laser or 420 alternatively a Starling.

Brand new expect to pay around $10,000.

Opti sailing doesn’t cost a fortune and most clubs have 2nd hand boats that they can lease out if required.

How do I know that IODA has endorsed the manufacturer of my boat?

NEVER BUY A BOAT WITHOUT ITS MEASUREMENT BOOK.  Each boat manufactured by an IODA endorsed manufacturer will have a plate attached to or a moulded number on the bow or mast thwart (the piece of fibreglass at the front of the boat that mast is mounted into) bearing the IODA insignia and an eleven figure alphanumeric code.

The boat will also have an ISAF sticker on the mast thwart that proves that the builders fee has been paid and corresponds with the number in a booklet entitled “International Optimist Dinghy Association Registration & Measurement Book” with the unique number of your boat.  It is most important that you keep this book in a safe place and are able to produce it at Ranking Regattas if you choose to take your boat with you.  You will also need this book when it comes time to sell your Optimist.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close