The Optimist Class is the largest junior sailing class around the world
The huge numbers of young sailors competing in the Optimist class around the world mean there are lots of regattas internationally that our sailors can compete in. Every year the UK class association organises visits to a number of events. There are in the form of either “Open” coach support where any sailors in the class can attend or “Teams” where the sailors are selected.
The class holds a series of major events around the UK each year – the Spring Championships, the Early Summer Championship, the Late Summer Championships, the End of Season Championships and the Winter Championships. The results of these events form the national ranking which is used to select sailors for certain events. In addition, the class association holds a selection trials event at the start of May each year, which is used to select some of the teams.
The Optimist World and European Championships are closed events, where the UK is required to choose teams to represent GBR. We are permitted to select five sailors to attend the Worlds and seven or eight sailors to attend the Europeans. We also select a team of eight promising sailors to attend the Development team event and a team to attend the European Team Racing Championships.
The Class has three selectors who make decisions on behalf of the class association. The Selectors are David Campbell-James (Chair), Tim Hall (RYA liaison to the Optimist class) and Alan Williams. All are experienced Optimist Coaches. The Selectors and the class agree selection polices and publish these, but it is the Selectors, independent of the Class, who actually select the sailors.
The selection trials comprise four days of racing, to select the teams. Approximately 80 sailors are invited by the Selectors from the rankings, and there is also a small number of recommendations from RYA Performance Managers. The top five sailors go on to attend the Worlds. The next three boys, the next three girls and the next sailor of either gender go on to attend the European Championships. The next four boys and four girls go on to attend a development regatta.
Each of these teams has a coach and a team leader and they travel without parents. The purpose of these teams is to develop the independence, resilience, organisation, time management and teamwork of the sailors, by building effective sailing processes and routines, so that they will be able to compete successfully in the Youth and Olympic classes. Each team has a training programme before their event.
UK Optimist sailors start off attending regional and national events and gradually, as they become more confident and experienced, move on to gain valuable international experience. International standards of Optimist sailing are very high, however sailors scoring results in the top half of main fleet at UK na - tional events should have a positive experience from an international event.
The events the class association is supporting change each year and are included in the calendar on the class website and in the Selection Policy document. Some of the events that we support regularly include:
- Garda Easter international
- Braassemermeer Easter Regatta
- United 4 events in Holland in the Spring and Autumn
- Torrevieja – in Spain in January
- Palamos - in Spain in February
- OptiOrange – in Spain in March
- Optispring – in Holland in April
- Flanders week- Nieuwpoort in July
- Irish National Championships
- Euromed – Malta over the Christmas break
- French National Championships in the summer
- Monaco Team Racing – in January
- Berlin Team Racing – in October
- European Team Racing – in August