Novice Optimist Fleet

The Novice Optimist Fleet provides an introduction to sailing and is intended for kids who have very limited to no experience in the Optimist dinghy or other small sailboats. Sailing and racing skills are practiced through games on and off the water and participants who start in the Novice Optimist Fleet can graduate to the Intermediate Optimist/Light Green Fleet by mastering Coach defined skill requirements. Classes are held in one-person, 8’ Optimist dinghies called SailCubes. Sailors will learn basic sailing and seamanship skills with an emphasis on safety and having fun on the water. 

Intermediate Optimist/Light Green Fleet

The Intermediate Optimist/Light Green Fleet is designed to help sailors transition from the Novice Optimist Fleet to the Green fleet. It builds upon the fundamental skill-sets developed in the Novice Optimist class and introduces sailors to racing. Classes are held in one-person, 8’ Optimist SailCubes and Optimists. This class is the most recent addition to our program and has been very popular. It is a good combination of fun cruising and racing. It allows sailors to improve at their own pace as they become comfortable and confident with themselves in the sport.


Optimist Green Fleet Racing 

The Optimist Green Fleet is a beginner level Optimist racing program designed to build on the basic sailing and rudimentary racing skills learned in the Intermediate/Light Green and Novice Fleets. Younger sailors who have shown advancement in boat handling, seamanship, and general sailing knowledge are eligible to participate in the Green Fleet using personally owned or SBYSF Optimists. The focus of the Green Fleet curriculum is to improve sailors' boat handling skills and rules knowledge. Additionally, Green Fleet sailors learn about small boat racing, including tactics and racecourse set-up. Sportsmanship is emphasized in all activities. The Green Fleet builds a strong foundation of sailing skills and it also creates personal connections and relationships with other young sailors.  

Optimist Champ Fleet Racing 

The Optimist Champ Fleet is for those sailors interested in competitive sailboat racing and generally encompasses youth from 10 to 15 years old. Sailing in the Champ Fleet follows the learn-to-race, Green Fleet experience. Optimist sailors can petition to join the SBYSF Race Team and race in the Champ Fleet at Optimist regattas once there have been performance criteria met and the sailor has been placing at the top of the Green fleet races. This class is designed to help returning SBYSF skippers or other skippers with comparable sailing backgrounds prepare for regional, national, and international competition. Racing skills and training discipline are emphasized and a significant time commitment is required in this program. Participants must own or have access to race-ready equipment and must demonstrate mastery of a number of skills.


Optimists are used for beginners but most sailors continue to race them up 14 to 15 years of age. The age limit is 15. Small children are sometimes "doubled up" for learn-to-sail classes but usually the boats are single-handed. Many sailing schools and yacht clubs own a number of them and they are the first boat most beginners will sail. More children learn to sail in an Optimist than any other boat. Its weight, sail size and stability allow it to be sailed in all wind conditions. The Optimist Class is the largest youth sailing/racing class in the world with over 150,000 Optimists registered. The International and United States Optimist Dinghy Association has an annual world championship and six continental championships attended by a total of over 850 sailors a year. Many of the top world Optimist sailors have become world-class sailors in single and double-handed Olympic class sailboats after they "age-out" of the Optimist.  At the 2016 Olympics at least 85% of the skippers were former Optimist sailors.