Life After Oppies

When a sailor reaches the decision that they must sadly leave Optimist sailing it’s good to know the options that are available to them.

Lots of sailors decide to leave Oppies for many different reasons e.g.

  • Their weight & size no longer make them competitive
  • Would like to sail a double-handed boat
  • Their friends have moved onto another class
  • No longer having fun in an Optimist – If sailing an Optimist is no longer enjoyable (for whatever the reason) then it’s time to move on.

This section of the website is designed to inform sailors of the different classes available to them when they leave Oppies. IODAI does not promote one class over another that is a decision for the sailor in consultation with their parents to make. Please click on the links on the right hand side to access information on the junior sailing options available.

Is There Life After Oppies? – SAIL A 420!The decision as to what to sail after Oppies can be a difficult one.  There are many factors which can affect the choice, e.g. desire to sail in another competitive ISA Youth class, getting experience in sailing a 2 handed dinghy, height/weight of sailors.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove made the decision to move from the Optimist to the 420 and decided to sail together.  Robert was 13, Sean 14. They become the Youth National 420 Champions in 2013, and also in 2014.

Seán has written for IODAI so that other sailors considering making the transition from the Optimist can know how the 420 worked out for him:

“I had a great time sailing Oppies and trained with Team X, the OPG and the ISA Squad. During these years I met some great guys and made many new friends.

The sailing skills learnt with Oppies and competing in home and overseas events set me up for moving into a new class, but it was not an easy decision whether to sail a Laser or 420.

During the Summer of 2011 I spent some time at the RSGYC training in Feva’s and 420’s with Adam Hyland.  The Oppie Nationals at HYC came and went but I still did not know whether I wanted to sail a Laser or 420 next.

We spoke to Thomas Chaix, and Thomas’s recommendation was it is easier to move from a 420 to a Laser rather than from a Laser to a 420.  I said to my parents I would commit to sailing a 420 for a year and then make a decision.

I teamed up with Robert Dickson in Howth who I got on well with.  Sailing with 3 sails (main, jib, spinnaker) is challenging and needs good communication and co-ordination between the helm and crew.  I must say just because you were good in the Oppie does not necessary mean you will be good in the 420.  The skills required, especially for crewing, are completely different.  If I‘m honest, the Oppie didn’t prepare me really at all for crewing.  It was like starting from scratch again.

Our first 420 event was the 2011 End of Seasons and we came 2nd in a fleet of 15 boats.  We trained hard through the Winter, much of which was spent upside down, but we soon got the swing of things and really started to enjoy the 420.  The speed is amazing (a lot faster than the laser and topper !) and being on the trapeze really gets the adrenalin pumping.  We had a good 2012 winning the Leinsters and Munsters.  The ISA supported the class with help in transporting boats and coaching at events in Kiel Week, Germany, the Europeans in Lake Garda and 3 events in Spain.

It’s great to see more Oppie sailors moving into 420’s. It is very much a competitive youth class where we all know each other.”

Sean and Rob are just embarking on their next boat, 49er, and their experience in the 420 will have prepared them well !


Is There Life After Oppies? – SAIL A TOPPER!

This year’s Youth Nationals Topper champion, Nicole Hemeryck, began sailing in an Optimist, during summer courses in Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, and back home in the National Yacht Club. A year ago, Nicole had to decide between sailing in the Optimist trials, or competing in the Topper in the Youth Nationals. Having just won the Youth Nationals, it would seem that Nicole made the correct decision. Read More

Is There Life After Oppies? – SAIL A LASER!

Conor O’Beirne made the difficult decision just over a year ago, to leave the Optimist class in his 14th year and switch to a Laser 4.7. It was probably the best decision he has ever made, as he holds the 2013 Irish Laser 4.7 Youth National title, following on from winning the UK Nationals in 2012. Read More



If the meantime we wish you Farewell….Solong….Adieu…. Aufwiesen….Goodbye and wish you every success in the future.

Happy Sailing


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