Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started in the Optimist Fleet is an exciting time because it can be the start of a lifetime passion for the sport of sailing and you'll make great friends and explore beautiful places along the way too!

Sailing is a way of life!

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

Optimists are designed for kids!

  • They can handle them without danger, fear or back-strain
  • Single-handed is best, no-one learned to ride a bike on a tandem!
  • Over 150,000 kids in more than 120 countries can't 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 body) exclusively for under 16's
  • 85% of Olympic sailing 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 you start sailing an Optimist?

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 successfully sailing Optimists all around Australia. Get Involved!

  • Sailing is fun: a great social life, now and for the rest of your life
  • Sailing is for all: tall, short, fat, thin, girl or boy – it doesn't matter - 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

What are the first steps?

Many Optimist sailors begin with the Tackers Learn to Sail program or similar programs that are offered at yacht clubs around Queensland. After Tackers, there are different options offered at different clubs, but they can include some of the following:

How long can you 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 in commenced on or before the 31st of December.

What is QIODA and why should I join?

QIODA is the acronym for the Queensland International Optimist Dinghy Association. This is the state body that governs Optimist racing in Queensland. By joining your state association you are supporting the people who are supporting your child to get the most out of this wonderful life experience.

The aims of QIODA are:

  • Promote the Optimist dinghy to yacht clubs, kids and parents
  • Arrange training and development opportunities for sailors
  • Host an all inclusive, fun filled and well managed State championship
  • Liaise with Australia's governing body AIODA, Australian Sailing and other Optimist associations

What will it likely cost me?

$3,500 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 budget 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, beginner GRP boats start at around $4,500. Add a good life-jacket, appropriate clothing and see your little one grow up quickly! Check the noticeboard at your local club, families that have 'aged-out' or outgrown their Optimist usually try and keep them within the club to build numbers, otherwise there’s a number of new Optimist suppliers:

Secondhand Facebook groups:

Opti Aus - Secondhand Boats and Gear For Sale

Australian Buy-Sell Optimist Sailing

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 without registration papers. Each boat manufactured by an IODA endorsed manufacturer will have a plate attached to it or a moulded number on the bow or mast thwart (the piece of fibreglass at the front of the boat that the 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 a 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.

For the registration form and more info CLICK HERE

How do I get my sail number registered with AIODA?

If your boat did not come with an AIODA registered sail number you will need to formally apply for one. To find out more CLICK HERE

Note, you are able to you are able to sail at events with a different sail number you simply need to advise race officials that you're using a different number on the sail than is allocated to the boat.


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