Australian International Optimist Dinghy Association

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started in the Optimist Fleet is an exciting time as for many it is the starting point for a lifetime enjoyment of the sport of sailing.

Optimists are designed for kids

  • They can handle them without danger, fear or back-strain.
  • Single-handed is best, they didn’t learn to ride a bike on a tandem.
  • Over 250,000 kids in more than 120 countries cannot be wrong.
  • The only junior class in Australia offering international competition and travel.
  • The Optimist is not only the biggest dinghy class in the world, it is the fastest growing.
  • The only single-hander dinghy recognised by the ISAF, the world organising body for sailing, exclusively for under 16s.
  • 85% of Olympic medalists at the last Olympics were Optimist sailors.
  • Builders on five continents, promoting competition and cost savings.
  • Your local sailing club has them – and if it doesn’t, it will.

At what age should I start sailing an Opti? 

Kids 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 Australia.

  • Sailing is fun: a great social life, now and for the rest of your days
  • Sailing is for all: tall? short? fat? thin? girl? boy? green with pink spots? – sailing is for you
  • Sailing builds self-reliance, physical strength, quick thinking and a love of the environment
  • Sailing doesn’t cost a fortune – we’ll talk about that later

How long can I sail an Optimist?  

A skipper can only race 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, unless the regatta they are competing commenced on or before the 31st of December.

What is AIODA and why should I join?  

AIODA is an acronym for the Australian International Optimist Dinghy Association. This is the national body that governs Optimist racing in Australia. Join your state association and support the people who are supporting your child to get the most out of this wonderful life experience. 

The aims of AIODA are:

  • Promote the Optimist dinghy to yacht clubs, kids and parents considering the Optimist as the boat to train young people
  • Arrange training and development opportunities for sailors
  • Host an all inclusive fun filled and well managed national championships
  • Liaise with the international and state Optimist organizations.

What will it cost?

$2,500 buys a very good first boat (pre-owned) – and you can expect the value to drop $300 when you sell. Trade up every other year or so and reckon on adding around $400 a year to your investment. When you sell your last Optimist you have the price of a second-hand International Class dinghy like a Laser or 420 – and the path to a lifetime of sailing. If you want to buy new, beginners’ GRP boats start around $3,000. Add a good lifejacket, appropriate clothing and a kid and see your little one grow up, quickly! Check the noticeboard at your local club, families that have 'aged-out' or outgrown their Opti usually try and keep them within the club to build numbers, otherwise there’s a number of new Optimist suppliers:

Where can I get a boat?  

Optimist Suppliers:-

Winner Optimist
NB Sailsports
Binks Marine

Which clubs in Australia sail Optimists and when do they sail?  

The list of clubs is growing fast, contact your State Association.

What is Green Fleet?

Green Fleet is the beginner racer fleet, run at most clubs and regattas, using the simplified Introductory Rules of Racing and coaches are available to assist the sailors at the back of the fleet.

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

DO NOT BUY A BOAT WITHOUT ITS MEASUREMENT BOOK, you wouldn't buy a car with rego papers. Each boat manufactured by an IODA endorsed manufacturer will have a mould number on the bow. 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 national event if you choose to take your boat with you. You will also need this book when it comes time to sell your Optimist.

How do I get my boat registered with AIODA and why is it important? 

It is important to have your boat registered in the name of the current owner by the registrar of the national association AIODA for you to compete at State and National events - see BOAT REGISTRATION

How do I get a sail number?

If your boat did not come with an AIODA registered sail number you will need to formally apply for one - see BOAT REGISTRATION


International Optimist Dinghy Association
Australian Sailing
Australian Bureau of Meteorology 



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