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Welcome to Optimist Class

What is an OPTIMIST?
The Optimist is, quite simply, the boat in which the young people of the world learn to sail.

The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. Nowadays boats are usually made of fibreglass, although wooden boats are still built. It is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world, with over 150,000 boats officially registered with the class and many more built but never registered.

The Optimist is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation. Optimists are designed for kids. They can handle them without danger, fear or back-strain. It is often described as:

  • "a bathtub that breeds the best sailors" (Observant Sailor at the Club Bar)
Green Fleet

Green fleet is where sailors transition from Learn to Race and start racing with children of approximately their own ability.  The programme for Green Fleet includes both coaching and racing in an environment that nurtures and encourages the children to be the best sailors possible.  In terms one and four, every Tuesday evening from 4.30 until 7pm and Sunday morning 9 to 12, coaching is available for the sailors. 

Sailors generally stay in Green fleet until they gain top 5 placings in a maximum of 3 Green fleet regattas, or when their skill level pushes them to compete at a higher level amongst the Open fleet.  However this is not a given, and we will ensure that your child is competent, confident and happy to move to the Open fleet, rather than automatically pushing them through.  Sometimes, a child's progress may slow due to a term of bad weather or lengthy absence from the program.  Similarly, some sailors progress extremely fast through the sailing programme.  It is better to let the sailor and coaches guide the timing of their progression through the Opti classes.


This season we are lucky to have three great coaches for Green fleet, Amber, Gemma and Verity.. Each of these coaches are qualified under the Yachting NZ instructor program and are very proficient sailors.  We find that the children listen and learn better from young adults than they do parents from within the club.

Sailors will learn racing rules for right of way and how to get the most of out the boat.  They will be taught to sail in any wind condition, whether it is blowing 20 knots or no wind at all. They will learn tactics for starts and how to get clean air, plus many other essentials for becoming a great sailor.

On a Sunday afternoon, the club runs three races for the sailors to practice starts and improve their race skills. This is the Murrays Bay Club Points Racing and at the end of each term a winner is recognised for the series.  Racing briefing is at 12.30, with the first race starting at 1pm. 

Weather permitting we will be on the same course as Open Fleet but will usually sail only a triangle course.  If the weather is not great we may have our own course, closer in to shore. 

There is always a Green fleet support boat, following our sailors around the course helping with any on water support required – often in the form of additional bailing after a capsize, or helping the sailors with direction, or boat tuning.  We believe that the sailors should be nurtured through the Green fleet and encouraged to grow in skills and confidence until such time as they can transition to Open fleet. 


Members of the Murray's Bay Green fleet travel to many regattas around the country.   Each regatta, we will have a support boat and parents are welcome to come out and support our fleet.  In our most recent regatta, the 2012 North Island Champs, Murray's Bay had 3 sailors placed in the top 8. 

A calendar of regattas is available elsewhere within this site.

What if I don’t want to race?

Whilst much of the sailing training is on learning how to race, great emphasis is also on having fun and improving our sailing skills.  Not all of our sailors want to compete in regattas and some just want to enjoy the sail!  We run destination sails throughout the season, with sailing trips to local beaches to get an icecream or other treats.  Our coaches are well skilled in designing games that have the children learning, whilst hunting for treasure or competing in fun events with the other sailors at the club.

What equipment is needed to join Green fleet?

Each sailor is required to have their own boat to join the Green fleet.  We suggest that you spend around 2,000 for a boat for this class.  It would ideally be made of fibreglass as they are more competitive than a wooden boat.  I would not advise that you spend much more than these amounts on the initial boat for the child's sailing career.  These boats can get knocked around a bit as the children hone their sailing skills, and invariably some other child will hit the side of your boat, no matter how careful your child is.   I have found that a reasonable boat purchased in LTR or Green will get your child through until they are in mid fleet in open.  TradeMe is often the best place to source a second hand boat.


Clothing is an essential component to the sailors having a good time and wanting to sail.  There is nothing worse than being cold and wet.  An investment in the correct gear by parents will certainly keep your child keen on the sport.  I would recommend the following as a minimum:

  • Sailing buoyancy vest –this is one that does not have a collar at the back of the head.  These can get the sailor caught on the boom.
  • Spray jacket with rubber cuffs, waste and neck
  • Beanie or sun hat
  • Hiking pants – these have rubber pads at the back of the thigh to ease the pain on the back of the legs and to extend the gunnels when hiking out.

Other options include;

  • Thermal layers against the skin
  • Sailing gloves
  • Starting watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Wetsuit

Many of these items are often available second hand at the club, or can be purchased at either the Watershed on Barrys Point Road, or who also have a shop in Silverdale.

Sailing is a family sport and requires a lot of involvement from parents. The club has a roster to allocate the tasks for Sunday afternoons when we have club points racing.  Parents are asked to volunteer for a task that may include, Beach duty for safety, organizing launching and retrieving, kitchen duty, or perhaps helping to record finishes on the Race Committee boat.   If you are unable to do your rostered day please arrange to swap with another parent and let one of the Green fleet convenors know. 

Each parent is also responsible for launching and retrieving their own child. So please come prepared to get wet. We realize that non-rostered parents sometimes leave the beach with their child out on the water. Life is very busy and often we have many children requiring assistance.  This is OK as long as you have arranged for some else to take care of your child should they return to shore earlier than expected. In rough seas or Easterly winds forecast we would expect all parents to remain at the beach and be available at all times.

For club points racing and interclub regattas if your child is racing you will need to help out. Green fleet is a good time to get involved in the wider club duties while you can learn from the old hands! So please help out on kitchen duty, tractor duty, course setting etc where possible.

It is a good habit for all parents and sailors to know the weather forecast before coming to sailing. Warm clothing is a must for the early part of the season. Our coaches find it difficult to coach kids who are cold and may not necessarily be able to return your child to the beach for warmer clothing. A snack in their life jacket pocket can also help! A muesli bar, chocolate bar or barley sugars or anything wrapped is good.

If the weather is too bad to sail, please still come to the club.  We use these sessions for extended theory, meaning that we can spend more time on the water at a later date.  Often we have world class sailors available to give talks or lessons on tactics and starts.

Sailors from other clubs are always welcome at Murray's Bay, and if you wish to join us, please contact Green Fleet coordinator, Angela Berry.  Her email is  or telephone her on 0211 852 421.

Sailors initially race in the Green fleet, with promotion to the Open fleet when they have gained sufficient experience and expertise. The club programme includes a variety of events throughout the season, designed to improve skills, provide competitive racing, make friends and provide sufficient variety for the enjoyment of all sailors regardless of their age and ability. Sailors, particularly those in the Open fleet, will also be encouraged to compete in interclub regattas, culminating in the National Championships at Easter, from which the New Zealand
team for the Optimist World Championships is selected. Murray's Bay has a proud record of success in the Nationals, with many of
our sailors having been members of past World Championship teams.

Recent Optimist class highlights

3 Murray's Bay Optimist sailors finished in the top 5 in New Zealand this year, and were selected to represent NZ at the Optimist World Championships in the warm Caribbean waters of the Dominican Republic. Tim Adair was the top Kiwi finisher, placing 26th out of 230 of the world’s top sailors. Leonard Takahashi-Fry also had a successful season taking the NZ National title for the second consecutive year.

Other Murray's Bay Optimist sailors represented New Zealand overseas this year, including Cameron Moss (World Champs), Nick Egnot-Johnston & James Wilson (North American Champs), Kerensa Jennings and Josh Handa (Asian Champs).

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