Optimist Class Captain – Pete Spedding

The Optimist dinghy is a safe and stable boat designed for children to learn to sail. It is 7′ 6″ by 3′ 8″, flat-bottomed, hard-chined and weighs 77lbs.

The Optimist is easy to handle requiring control of just one sheet and the rudder. Whilst simple to rig it still presents a challenge when the more experience sailors seek the ultimate rig tuning for any particular conditions. In this way the Optimist offers plenty of opportunity for young sailors to grow and learn.

The Optimist typically attract sailors from around 7 to 15 years of age and is the only dinghy approved by the International Sailing Federation exclusively for sailors under 15 years of age.

The Optimist track record speaks for itself, with over 400,000 boats in 80 countries, virtually 50% of all of the sailing medal winners at the Sydney Olympics were former Optimist sailors.

So if your children are keen to sail the only questions left to ask are “Where do we find an Optimist?” and “How do we join Dee Sailing Club ?”.


DSC recognises that the future success of the club will in part depend on the continued introduction of new members and especially families. The introduction of three club-owned DART 16 catamarans last year now provides an ideal stepping stone for sailors to move between the already popular Mirror Dinghy class and many of the adult classes.

The Optimist class completes the picture by providing an opportunity for children starting around 7 years of age to become involved in sailing.

In response to this initiative several DSC members have acquired Optimist dinghies and many more are looking to follow suit. Optimists (and Blue Peters) now sail regularly and are included in the DSC sailing program. Interested parents are invited to bring their children along and have a go.

Interested please contact Pete Spedding

Buyer’s Guide

Optimist dinghies are manufactured in three different materials; wood, glass-reinforced plastic and plastic. Each material has its own characteristics broadly as follows:

Material Cost (used) Weight Durability Aesthetics
Wood Moderate (~£500) Moderate Excellent Excellent
GRP High (£1000 +) Minimum Good Good
Plastic Moderate (~£300) Heavy Indestructible Poor

Wooden boat checklist

1.Check that the boat is ready to sail (see parts list) ask the owner to rig the boat.
2.Check the hull for signs of damage and poor repair work. When was the boat last re-painted and why? Have there been any major repairs?
3.Check that all fittings are secure. The mast foot is known to break free; check that the wood is sound in this area.
4.Check the weight of the boat, two adults can lift the boat easily with one at each side.
5.Check the main sail for signs of damage around the fixing points.
If in doubt about any of the points above come and have a look at one of the boats at the club and talk it through with the owner.

Optimist parts list

Hull (with mast foot, pintels, toe straps, mainsheet blocks (2), buoyancy bag straps, daggerboard elastic)
Rudder (with folding tiller extension)
Buoyancy bags (3)
Boom (with outhaul cleat and rope, kicking strap and mainsheet block)
Mast (with sprit cleat, block and control wire, kicking strap cleat, burgee)
Cover (optional)
Launching Trolley (optional)
Road Trailer (optional)

Sailing Calendar 2023