The International Optimist Dinghy
Designed in 1947 by Clarke Mills, Fla, the Optimist is a single-handed one-design dinghy which is ideal for children who are at first learning to sail, and in which they can then carry on to experience exhilarating racing at all levels, up to the World Championships. For fascinating information on the birth of the Optimist Dinghy, see the link below.
The best way to introduce kids to sailing is through the Optimist class. Optimist sailboats are designed especially for children, with a broad beam for exceptional safety and stability. The boats are simple to operate – just one sail, one line, and one centreboard. They’re also simple to transport – just strap it to the roof of your car or stow it in the back of a van or sport utility vehicle.
Sailed in over 100 countries by over 150,000 young people, it is the only dinghy approved by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) exclusively for sailors under 16 years of age.
Optimist Class Specifications
Length: 2.3 m / 7′ 9″
Beam: 1.1.m / 3′ 8″
Draft: 2′ 9″
Sail area: 35 sq.ft
Weight: 77 lbs / 35 kgs. (FRP hull)
Hull: Wood or FRP
Spars: Wood or aluminum
Racing: crew 1
First built: 1947
Number built: 500,000 + worldwide
Designer Clark Mills 1947, modified by Axel Damgard 1954
More info on the origins of the design/class: http://www.balancedrig.com/landsendmarina/mills.html
2002 – Clarky Mills, the colorful boat designer who changed the boating world with his innovative Optimist pram, died Dec. 11 in Clearwater, FL, at the age of 86.