The Optimist is one of the most succesful dinghies ever . It may be small but it is not a toy. Very many Olympian sailors started their careers in an "Oppie".It was designed in Florida in 1947 by Clark Mills and was originally built from 2 sheets of 4' x 8' plywood. With its simple pram hull and sprit rig it is instantly recognisable. You can still buy the plans from the RYA and build your own, but nowadays most are made in fibre glass by commercial builders
The upper age limit for racing the boat is 15 years, but many teenagers outgrow it before then.
It is one of the RYA recognised single hander classes and is the single biggest class in Spinnaker Youth Training (SYT)
There are always plenty of second hand boats on the market, from a few hundred to several thousand pounds. They do keep their value well and a new one can easily cost £4000.
Last updated 10:55 on 17 January 2020