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.
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.
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.
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:
$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:
The list of clubs is growing fast, contact your State Association.
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.
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.
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
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 Bureau of Meteorology