As an international class that is robust, simple and stable we believe the Optimist is the perfect beginners boat. However we also believe that sailors develop through good coaching and the experience of sailing different classes.
Each boat has its own characteristics and as a sailor you can learn different techniques from each. For example Optimist class is the accepted introduction to sailing class, it’s stable, forgiving and when sailors are starting out they can’t go to far wrong. However, if a sailor is looking to learn about sail controls then in New Zealand our very own P Class is great for young sailors to jump into and learn these skills. If you want to learn team work then the double-handed Flying Ant or RS Feva are great classes that overlap an Optimist sailors weight range.
We aim to encourage sailors to think about the Optimist Class as being a great learning class, having amazing fleets (think start line sizes and strategies for fleet management) while allowing older Optimist sailors the ability to grow and develop their technical skills in relation to gear selection, sail and spar set-up. In addition allowing them to ‘jump’ in and out of other classes of boat enhances these skills during their Optimist time too.
The following charts aim to provide information to assist sailors and their families looking to grow their skills (and have fun) in other classes of boat.
While it’s not an exact science we have tried to provide rough weight ranges to enable sailors to understand when they may start in a class while also providing a rough top end weight so you can start preparing for a better suited weight class without getting to frustrated when those lighter sailors are going faster.
We hope the information is helpful on your sailing journey.
The following chart takes the class weights and averages them out to give you a rough guide as to which boats may be suitable for your sailor. Note that the blue shading shows the Optimist Class range for easy of visibility across all other classes.