The Optimist ("Oppie")
The Oppie has become, over its long history (1947), quite simply the sailboat in which the majority of young people learn to sail and to race, and this is true both in Ireland and Internationally.
As a single person boat it has many advantages, and can be sailed by young sailors up to their early teens, after which their personal physical growth and its small size makes them uncompetitive. While it has almost universal application as a sail training boat, many of our younger sailors miss the social interaction and mutual support that a 2 person sailboat offers and so it is not for everyone.
LDYC has lots of Oppies and runs many Oppie events, and our young sailors very much enjoy participating in local, National and International Optimist Class events, with several local sailors being Irish National Optimist Champions.
Oppie sailors, given the size and range of Oppie Events worldwide, can be very competitive and many of their ranks now make up Olympic and World Champions in senior classes. Sir Ben Ainslie, the UK sailor with the most Olympic medals started his sailing in Oppies.
The chronology of both the boat and its International Association is as follows:
Optimist designed by Clark Mills in Clearwater, Florida, USA - a wooden box dinghy
Optimist modified and introduced into Denmark by Axel Damsgaard
Optimist introduced to England by Nigel Ringrose. Main dimensions stabilised.
First World Championship (though wasn't called that) held in England. Denmark, Great Britain, West Germany and Sweden participate.
International Optimist Dinghy Association founded. First members were Austria, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden and USA followed shortly by Germany and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Viggo Jacobsen (DEN) first President, his wife Edith first Secretary.
Worlds first held in USA.
Fibreglass hulls permitted. They did not become competitive until 1975-76 and wooden boats were still seen at the Worlds in 1981.
International Optimist Dinghy Association recognised as an International Class by the International Yacht Racing Union (now ISAF). Issue of numbered building fee plaques begins. South American Optimist Championship created. Metal spars introduced. 20 nations at Worlds.
North American Optimist Championship created.
"Stitch & Glue" (now wood/epoxy) hull authorised. Girls prize at Worlds created.
Nigel Ringrose (GBR) becomes President. Independent Secretariat established: Hanne Rix (DEN) becomes Secretary. 30 nations at Worlds.
European Championship created. Team racing introduced at Worlds. IODA Yearbook first published.
Al Chandler (THA) becomes President
Girl wins Worlds for first time. Girls also won in 1996, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Direct judging introduced for team racing
Helen Mary Wilkes (IRL) becomes President. Optiworld newsletter first published.
Asian Championship created.
41 countries at the Worlds.
Strict one design hull introduced. Nesquik agree to sponsor IODA. Over the next three years they would contribute over USD500,000 to Optimist sailing. IODA website introduced.
IODA, helped by Nesquik, starts its coach-training programme.
Robert Wilkes becomes Secretary. Oceanian Championship created.
Rene Kluin (NED) becomes President.
59 nations participate in Millenium Worlds. This remains a world record for any Class Championship.
IODA starts its Development programme. African Championship created.
Foils made strictly one-design.
Peter Barclay (PER) becomes President.
Sally Burnett becomes Secretary
First World Championship held in Oceania.
50th Optimist Worlds in Dominican Republic
Robert Wilkes publishes The Optimist Dinghy 1947-2007.