Skip to main content

What Could The Future Of The Opti Class Look Like?

Are We Thinking About The Whole Picture?

Sailing Scuttlebutt recently posted an article about a company out in Italy, Northern Light Composites, that is focusing on sustainable boatbuilding from the ground up. It was interesting because they're tackling the problem of end-of-lifespan recycling for boats, which is a big problem - and many people don't notice. GPR, or fiber-glass optimists don't end up in the recycling bin once they get too old, they end up in landfills. This is sadly the fate of literally tons of old boats and it was good to hear about someone trying to do something about it.

Focusing On Eco-Sustainable Sailboats May 7th, 2020

But it got me to thinking, what is the Optimist class doing about it? They are taking some great steps to educate sailors on sustainability, and environmentally friendly practices for their beloved sport; but I got to thinking about what this large, large class could do if they pushed this 'eco-friendly' solution towards boatbuilding and the design of the boat.

Yes, I get it - there are people that hate the optimist. Yes, I understand that it's a slow boat. Yes, a lot of kids will hop on other boats if given the opportunity. BUT - the Optimist remains a favorite trainer class because it is a relatively slow, stable platform that provides complexity while remaining simply rigged. Now, this matters to pushing the future of the class with respect to the kids' environmental future because we have the numbers to drive policy change. We as the adults in the class espouse values like 'lifelong sailing' and 'sailing green' but looking at the very foundation of the class - the boat itself - we are falling short, in my opinion.

Regatta parks are littered with sail ties, left behind equipment; metal, fiberglass, resins - we can do better. Starting with the boat itself. Here's a picture from the Sailing Scuttlebutt article of the ecoPrimus, a 2016 design by David Bereczki for sailing schools and the first racing kids will do.

Everybody wants to make the boat that replaces the optimist, but why be in a rush to throw out a boat that kids enjoy just fine for the first few years (another subject entirely) when we can simply adapt the old design for modern times? The Primus is a good idea, but for example, the opti can stand to gain by making a loose-footed mainsail. There isnt really a need for boom-ties that fall off and create more trash and pollution. Keep the mast ties to promote the seamanship and fine adjustment that caters to the brainier kids, but the mast step can definitely use a refresh. 

And what about having to get rid of your investment after your kids gets too big for the boat? I think we can help reduce the optis that are ending up in landfills by adapting them with ideas like the O-Pro bow extension and rig

Just imagine, the boat you buy can be with them until 16, 17 years old, made from sustainable materials and doesn't require you to make massive investments at each jump. We're not advocating for you to go out and buy an O-Pro, or keep a kid that's too big for an Opti sailing them - were advocating that we've got to start thinking out of the box when it comes to choices in sustainability. Imagine: a future where prices aren't out of control and great regattas are not so far away that you don't have to travel so much! That's a future we want to be a part of!


Popular posts from this blog

The Post-Opti Life: 29er Sailing And Skiff Culture

 A New Series To Connect Sailors To What's Out There We tried something different with this one as we constantly get questions about what comes after the Opti. Part of what we want to do at Opti TV is to connect the class with the next steps, so naturally we went to take a look at the 29er class from the viewpoint of what kind of sailor wants to compete in 29ers. The 29er is a deceptively simple boat that requires agility and strength, and a mindset of sharing and growth. As a pre-olympic boat it's not for the faint of heart. We went over to the US Sailing Center in Miami to meet up with 2Niner Head Coach Phil Muller for day 1 of racing in the 2nd event of the Skiff Generation Grand Prix, a really great event that he has put together with US Sailing and the 49er class. It was a great day of racing, albeit light and notably it had several of the US Sailing Team members racing on 49ers and the 49erFX. We'll let you read the recap here: SGGP Event 2 Recap because we were more

3 Year Review: The Spyderco Atlantic Salt Knife

When It Comes To Safety Knives, Less Is More The Spyderco Atlantic Salt Knife The Spyderco Atlantic Salt For our 2nd ever review we figured we'd pull out our favorite safety knife, the Spyderco Atlantic Salt in Yellow. This thing has been around for some years now, and we've owned one for 3 years already, but we feel like it does not get the attention it deserves because it is definitely is worth taking a look at as a choice for safety knife in your kit. From the spyderco website: It's been speculated the sheepfoot shaped blade originated with mariners who found the rounded tip especially beneficial when the knife was accidentally dropped (think working on a ship in pitching seas) as it couldn't stab the foot when hitting the deck. It's also been hypothesized that commanding officers on these ships preferred rambunctious hardworking sailors carry knives without pointed tips, especially while in port blowing off steam after months at sea. Spyderco

Resources For Opti Sailors Looking To Take The Next Steps In Sailing

It's Not About The Boat, It's About You.  Navigating the waters post-Opti is sometimes quite the challenge because we, in Optiland, tend to get tunnel vision and only see the possibilities in sailing within the context of the Optimist class. In reality, the Optimist is the first step of many into a wide world of sailing that's out there.  Out of the many, many classes out there most of them will remain inaccessible to a fresh-out-of-the-class sailor who is transitioning from the Opti into another boat. There are many youth fleets out there and although the typical pathway is to jump into a 420, Laser or such there are no hard rules about what to do after the Opti. Here are some resources and words of advice we've put together for those who are eyeing the next steps already, whether they're reaching the age cutoff or are getting too big for the boat. Remember that because there are so many options out there, its not about the boat - its about the sailor and their kin