What is an OPTIMIST?
It is the boat in which the young people of the world learn to sail.
The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. Nowadays boats are usually made of fibreglass, although wooden boats are still built. It is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, with over 150,000 boats officially registered with the class and many more built but never registered.
The Optimist is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation. Optimists are designed for kids. They can handle them without danger, fear or back-strain.
This is the pathway through the Optimist fleets. These are average timescales only - every sailor is different and may be more or less than stated.
Learn To Sail
It all starts with Learn to Sail. Confidence with the water and with the boat, and how to get the boat moving in the direction you want. It's a magic moment for you when your child goes "solo" for the first time; let's make sure it's a happy one too. More details on our Learn To Sail pages.
Class Rep: See our Class Reps page.
Courtney Reynold-Smith (Head Coach)
Wednesday 4pm - 7pm
Sunday 9am - Noon
Session run in term time through term 1 and 4. Please see the club calendar for exact dates.
After LTS the sailor has the basics, and is ready to move in to Blue Fleet and learn more. Our Blue Fleet program is run in accordance with Yachting NZ Sailing Fast (Level 2) and Go Racing (Level 3) courses. Sailors will become capable of mixing it safely with other boats, and be able to do club level racing
Read more about Blue Fleet here.
Class Rep: See our Class Reps page.
Coaches: Sam Beckman, Saffron Nixon
Tuesday Rigged and Ready 4pm - 7pm
Sunday Rigged and Ready 9am - Noon
Sunday - Briefing 12.45pm. First Race 1.30pm
Thursday Sprints (Post Christmas ONLY) - Rigged and ready 4.30pm
It's only a small transition from blue to green fleet, where your sailor is ready to take on bigger courses against children of similar ability. They can start racing in regattas around the country and start meeting sailors from other Yacht Clubs.
Learn more about Green Fleet here.
Class Rep: See our Class Reps page.
Tuesday evenings, Rigged and Ready 4pm - 7pm
Sunday Mornings, Rigged and Ready 9am - Noon
Sunday - Briefing 12.45, 1:30 start
Thursday nights sprints: Feb-Easter
The Optimist Open fleet program offers a variety of sailing to extend your skills which includes:
Open fleet sailors are strongly supported and encouraged to compete in interclub regattas, culminating in the National Championships each year at Easter, from which the New Zealand team for the Optimist World Championships is selected. Murrays Bay has a proud record of success in the Nationals, with many of our sailors having been members of past World Championship teams.
|Key Optimist Regattas for Open and Green Fleets
Winter Champs - MBSC - Middle weekend of September School holidays
North Island Champs - rotates Taupo/Napier/New Plymouth - November
Sir Peter Blake Regatta - Torbay - 1st weekend of December
Auckland Champs - Auckland Anniversary Weekend
Junior Sail Auckland - Kohimaramara - February
Opti Interislander - Picton - February
Opti 6 hour Race - MBSC Lake Pupuke - 24 Hour Race weekend
Nationals - Easter
Blue Fleet is the Murrays bay follow on group for sailors that have completed Learn to Sail (LTS) and have a basic knowledge of sailing. We teach our sailors:
When do we sail?
Blue Fleet sails from Murrays Bay each Wednesday evening from 4.00 to 7pm and each Sunday morning from 9am - Noon. Then we can join club racing on Sunday afternoons. Each group is taught by a head coach and an appropriate number of qualified youth coaches. We find that the children listen and learn better from young adults than they do parents from within the club.
Whilst much of the sailing training is on learning how to race, great emphasis is also on having fun. Not all of our sailors want to compete in regattas and some just want to enjoy the sail! We run destination sails throughout the season, with sailing trips to local beaches to get an ice-cream or other treats. Our coaches are well skilled in designing games that have the children learning, whilst hunting for treasure or competing in fun events with the other sailors at the club.
Get a Boat
Each sailor is required to have their own boat to join the Blue Fleet program. We suggest that you spend around $750-$2,000 for a boat for this class. It would ideally be made of fibreglass as they are usually more competitive than a wooden boat. We would not advise that you spend much more than these amounts on the initial boat for the Childs sailing career. These boats can get knocked around a bit as the children hone their sailing skills, and invariably some other child will hit the side of your boat, no matter how careful your child is. We have found that a reasonable boat purchased in Blue Fleet will get your child through until they are in open fleet, having raced in green for one or two years. TradeMe is often the best place to source a second-hand boat.
Sailors generally stay in Blue Fleet for one term. However this is not a given, and we will ensure that your child is competent, confident and happy to move to the Green fleet, rather than automatically pushing them through. Sometimes, a child's progress may slow due to a term of bad weather or lengthy absence from the program. Similarly, some sailors progress extremely fast through the sailing programs. It is better to let the sailor guide the timing of their own progression through the Opti classes.
Clothing is an essential component to the sailors having a good time and wanting to sail. There is nothing worse than being cold and wet. An investment in the correct gear by parents will certainly keep your child keen on the sport. I would recommend the following as a minimum:
Other options include;
Many of these items are often available second hand at the club, or can be purchased at Burnsco, The Watershed or NZSailing.net
Sailing is a family sport and requires a lot of involvement from parents. The club has a roster to allocate the tasks for Sunday afternoons when we have club points racing. Parents are asked to volunteer for a task that may include, Beach duty for safety, organizing launching and retrieving, kitchen duty, or perhaps helping to record finishes on the Race Committee boat. If you are unable to do your rostered day please arrange to swap with another parent and let one of the Green fleet convenors know.
Each parent is also responsible for launching and retrieving their own child. So please come prepared each time your sailor goes sailing to get wet. We realise, that non-rostered parents sometimes leave the beach with their child out on the water. Life is very busy and often we have many children requiring assistance. This is okay as long as you have arranged for someone else to take care of your child should they return to shore earlier than expected. In rough seas or easterly winds we would expect all parents to remain at the beach and be available at all times. Please check the forecast before coming to sail.
For club points racing and interclub regattas if your child is racing you will need to help out. Green fleet is a good time to get involved in the wider club duties while you can learn from the old hands! So please help out on kitchen duty, tractor duty, course setting etc where possible.
It is a good habit for all parents and sailors to know the weather forecast before coming to sailing. Warm clothing is a must for the early part of the season. Our coaches find it difficult to coach kids who are cold and may not necessarily be able to return your child to the beach for warmer clothing. A snack in their life jacket pocket can also help! A muesli bar, chocolate bar or barley sugars or anything wrapped is good.
If the weather is too bad to sail, please still come to the club. We use these sessions for extended theory, meaning that we can spend more time on the water at a later date. Often we have world class sailors available to give talks or lessons on tactics and starts.
Sailors from other clubs are always welcome at Murrays Bay, and if you wish to join us, please contact our Blue Fleet coordinator.
More on Green Fleet
Check out our Club Calendar on the main home page.
Green fleet is where sailors transition from Blue Fleet and start racing with children of approximately their own ability. The programme for Green Fleet includes both coaching and racing in an environment that nurtures and encourages the children to be the best sailors possible. In terms one and four, every Tuesday evening from 4.00 until 7pm and Sunday morning 9 to 12, coaching is available for the sailors.
Sailors generally stay in Green fleet until they gain top 5 placings in a maximum of 3 Green fleet regattas, or when their skill level pushes them to compete at a higher level amongst the Open fleet. However this is not a given, and we will ensure that your child is competent, confident and happy to move to the Open fleet, rather than automatically pushing them through. Sometimes, a child's progress may slow due to a term of bad weather or lengthy absence from the program. Similarly, some sailors progress extremely fast through the sailing programme. It is better to let the sailor and coaches guide the timing of their progression
Our coaches are qualified under the Yachting NZ instructor programme or equivalent programme and they are very proficient sailors. We find that the children listen and learn better from young adults than they do parents from within the club.
Sailors will learn racing rules for right of way and how to get the most of out the boat. They will be taught to sail in any wind condition, whether it is blowing 20 knots or no wind at all. They will learn tactics for starts and how to get clean air, plus many other essentials for becoming a great sailor.
On a Sunday afternoon, the club runs three races for the sailors to practice starts and improve their race skills. This is the Murrays Bay Club Points Racing and at the end of each term a winner is recognised for the series. Racing briefing is at 12.30, with the first race starting at 1.30pm.
Weather permitting we will be on the same course as Open Fleet but will usually sail only a shorter triangle course. If the weather is not great we may have our own course, closer in to shore.
There is always a Green fleet support boat, following our sailors around the course helping with any on water support required – often in the form of additional bailing after a capsize, or helping the sailors with direction, or boat tuning. We believe that the sailors should be nurtured through the Green fleet and encouraged to grow in skills and confidence until such time as they can transition to Open fleet.
Members of the Murrays Bay Green fleet travel to many regattas around the country. Each regatta, we will have a support boat and parents are welcome to come out and support our fleet. In our most recent regatta, the 2016 National Champs, Murrays Bay Green were 1st and 2nd overall plus several age group results.
What if I don’t want to race?
Whilst much of the sailing training is on learning how to race, great emphasis is also on having fun and improving our sailing skills. Not all of our sailors want to compete in regattas and some just want to enjoy the sail! We run destination sails throughout the season, with sailing trips to local beaches to get an ice-cream or other treats. Our coaches are well skilled in designing games that have the children learning, whilst hunting for treasure or competing in fun events with the other sailors at the club.
What equipment is needed to join Green fleet?
Each sailor is required to have their own boat to join the Green fleet. We suggest that you spend around 2,000 for a boat for this class. It would ideally be made of fibreglass as they are more competitive than a wooden boat. We would not advise that you spend much more than these amounts on the initial boat for the child's sailing career. These boats can get knocked around a bit as the children hone their sailing skills, and invariably some other child will hit the side of your boat, no matter how careful your child is. We have found that a reasonable boat purchased in Blue or Green will get your child through until they are in mid fleet in open. TradeMe is often the best place to source a second hand boat.
Please see the Blue Fleet section for advice on Clothing, Parent Support, and Safety.
Sailors initially race in the Green fleet, with promotion to the Open fleet when they have gained sufficient experience and expertise. The club programme includes a variety of events throughout the season, designed to improve skills, provide competitive racing, make friends and provide sufficient variety for the enjoyment of all sailors regardless of their age and ability. Sailors, particularly those in the Open fleet, will also be encouraged to compete in interclub regattas, culminating in the National Championships at Easter.
Brief history of the Optimist
The Optimist was designed in 1947 in the USA with the plan that a “competent handyman could build a wooden boat for his child in a weekend for US $150”.
Many of us remember a family Optimist lovingly launched in the swimming pool or at the bach after having being created over winter in the shed.
Optimists are now bought fully made up by one of several large manufacturers.
The International Optimist Dinghy Association - refer www.optiworld.org – controls everything about the class. It’s mission is to promote the class by making it affordable to as many parents as possible. The New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association is our national body which oversees and promotes the Optimist in New Zealand and works as part of IODA.