A Brief History Lesson on Small Boat Sailing

ESC’s youth sailors sail the Optimist Dinghy (Opti), the Laser, the 420, O’Pen Bic, Sunfish, and Hobie Wave. Let’s learn a little more about the three most common boats used in our programs:

www.usoda.org The Optimist Dinghy was developed in Clearwater, FL, in 1947, by Clifford McKay. Over time, the Opti (also known as the ‘pram’) has become the largest one-design racing class in the world. Why should kids sail the Optimist?

  • it was designed for kids
  • the boat is sailed by one person (much like riding a bicycle)
  • former Opti sailors were more than 85% of medal winners at the 2012 Olympics
  • the boat is sailed in 110 countries

There are four fleets within the class: Green, White, Blue & Red. Green fleet is a special fleet for beginners, any age up to 15. The purpose of the Green Fleet is to encourage novice sailors. Young sailors or those who need additional time in this fleet may do so; otherwise, Esc encourages Opti sailors to advance to their age groups when appropriate. White Fleet is for skippers 10 and under; Blue is for ages 11 or 12; Red fleet, ages 13-15. Youth “age out” of the Opti when they are 15. Youth new to sailing (under age l5, and/or less than 100 lbs.], should begin in the Optimist class. Early Optis were constructed out of wood. Some of those wooden dinghies are still sailing!

www.laser.org The Laser was designed in 1969; Canadian designers Kirby and Bruce. The Laser is a popular one-design sailing dinghy, that’s roughly 13’ long. There are three types of sail rigs for the Laser: The Laser Full or Standard, the Radial and the 4.7. The Laser Full is typically sailed by agile, muscular people who weigh roughly 70—80 kg. The 4.7 and the Radial rigs are made for the lighter weights and/or lighter—air conditions. Laser sailing requires an advanced level of fitness — upper body strength, abs, leg muscles are all put to the test in heavy air. Our Opti sailors look forward to the day when their weight, skill and agility can place them in the Laser class.

www.club420.org and www.hssailing.org The 420 is a double—handed sailing dinghy that was first built in 1959 by Christian Maury, a French engineer. Like the Laser, the 420 is roughly 13’ long. The 420 hull is fiberglass and is designed to plane easily. This class of dinghy has become the popular choice for high school and collegiate sailing. Many schools and colleges have competitive teams that sail in geographic districts. The 420 relies on a weight—balance ratio of it’s two-person team for maximum maneuvering. A spinnaker and trapeze may be used.

FYI: there are several YouTube videos on each class of sailboat we use, along with tips on how to rig your boats, the proper knots and equipment for your dinghies.

www.ussailing.org The sailing association to which we belong is the United States Sailing Association, whose MISSION is to provide leadership, integrity and advancement for the sport of sailing. Their PROPOSED VISION is to envision a future where everyone has an opportunity to sail and to enjoy a lifetime of success and rewarding experiences on the water. US Sailing is more than 120 years old! This organization promotes education, training, racing at all levels (including the Olympics and Junior Olympics), and does so using a network of volunteers as well as a small. salaried staff in RI. ESC uses US Sailing curriculum materials and promotes training for qualified youth & adults.