Optimist sailing at Salterns
The optimist is a single-handed dinghy for children, both girls and boys, up to the age of 15. It is sailed in countries around the world, in local flotillas and sailing clubs. It is a great boat in which to learn to sail - and it is also the boat many top class sailors have started in (including Ben Ainslie).
As boys and girls become more skilful, many will learn to race in local regattas, then national events. For those that become very good, there is even a World Championship each year.
As the optimist is so popular, it is easy to buy a second–hand one for a good price and it will keep its value. Whether you start sailing in an optimist or another type of dinghy, sailing is a great sport of children. It not only teaches them a new skill but it also fosters independence, self-respect, resilience, communication and organisation skills. Most importantly it is fun and many friendships that are made in optimists are friends for life.
The International Optimist Class Association in the UK (IOCA UK) actively supports local optimist flotillas up and down the country encouraging local training and regattas and supporting parents and sailors at all points on their optimist journey.
Optimists in Lymington
Salterns Sailing Club provides the start of the optimist journey in Lymington, Hampshire. Children may join the GPR Optimist 'Bronze Fleet' at Salterns once they have acheived their Salterns Red Pennant. Here they will learn the fundamentals of racing in the safe yet challenging environment of Eight Acre Pond.
Salterns Bronze Fleet sailors are encouraged to join IOCA UK, they may then choose to participate in local regattas.
Over winter, some optimist sailors continue their training at Pre RYA Zone Training at Spinnaker Sailing Club.
After Bronze Fleet, most optimist sailors progress to the Regatta Fleet and Main Fleet at Royal Lymington Yacht Club, sailing out in the Solent on a regular basis (many also still sailing for fun at Salterns too!)
As children progress many choose to compete for places in the RYA Squad programme. Squads offer eligible young sailors an opportunity to develop skills further.