New Parents FAQ’s

New to IODAI (Parents and sailors): 

This page is intended for sailors and parents who have already bought their boat and have attended at least one event on the IODAI circuit, probably in Regatta Fleet. It’s for parents who want to find out more about what IODAI offers and how their sailor can progress within the class.

Below you will find answers to the following questions.  If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact

  1.     Regatta Fleet and making the move to main Fleet?
  2.     What Training is available?
  3.     What is the ISA Squad?
  4.     What are the rankings?
  5.     What are the trials?
  6.     Who is invited to the trials?
  7.     Who qualifies for the Worlds Team?
  8.     Who qualifies for the European Team?
  9.     Who Qualifies for the IDT Team ?
  10.     Summary of who qualifies for the teams
  11.     What is an Under 12?
  12.     How do sailors qualify for the Under 12 Squad?
  13.     What does the Under 12 Squad do?
  14.     What funding/grant is there for Squads and Teams?
  15.     What training is there outside Ireland for sailors not in a Squad or Team?
  16.     How do I get a sail number for a new Optimist?
  17.     I’ve bought a boat without a certificate.  How do I get a new one?
  18.     How do I find a measurer?
  19.     What is the maximum age to sail an Optimist?
  20.     When am I too big for an Optimist
  21.     What are the Junior and Senior fleets?
  22.     Membership Fees for a family of 3 sailors
  23.     Refunds for entry fees


  1.     When should a sailor move form Regatta Fleet to main Fleet?

IODAI welcomes children 8-15yrs to the regatta fleet who are relatively new to sailing and racing.  This fleet is designed to give your child coaching and confidence in a fun atmosphere at an IODAI event with an emphasis on training & development.  It is NOT a racing fleet but a fleet where children can improve their basic optimist skills without the pressures of a competitive environment.

When a sailor should move form the Regatta Fleet to the main Fleet is always a thorny question; generally we advise that you speak to your club coach and other parents from your club.  Children like to move to the main fleet when confident and their friends are moving.  Also if a child wins 2 age prizes in regatta fleet they are no longer able to win a 3rd prize in that age category so sometimes that can indicate for a parent the right time to move.  You know your child best so ultimately it is your decision. IODAI firmly believe that this decision is one for the parents and sailors to make based on advice from various sources and without any criteria laid down by IODAI.

However, with the Junior fleet, regatta fleet parents and sailors may tend to move more rapidly to the Junior Fleet.  While such a move is to be encouraged, some may make it too quickly and then, during a windy regatta, may consider the weather too much for their sailor.  In these situations and for safety reasons main fleet sailors may temporarily move back to the regatta fleet BUT, in such circumstances, they will NOT be allowed to win regatta fleet prizes.

Race Officers decisions to run races should not be compromised by too many sailors not being capable of handling the prevailing conditions.

It should be pointed out to parents that this principle is not designed to allow switching between main fleet and regatta dependent on weather.  Regatta fleet to Main fleet moves should be considered a permanent move and this policy is only intended for exceptional circumstances.

In the event of Regatta Fleet sailing in, say, an inner harbour, while the Main Fleet are not put to sea, Main Fleet sailors may not downgrade to Regatta to simply get sailing.

End of IODAI statement.

  1.     What Training is available?

Optimist Training takes place at many levels:

  •          Club Level:  If you are members of an active Optimist club then there should be some training organised by your Junior Officer/Optimist Class Captain.  However your club may only have a few Oppies and you may have to join other classes to get some training in at local level.
  •          IODAI Winter Training Camp:  IODAI organise a full winter training camp for all sailors in Baltimore, Co. Cork each year.  This is certainly IODAI’s main training facility.  It is an excellent opportunity for sailors (and parents) to meet and integrate themselves in to “The Oppie Circuit”.  More details can be found on the website nearer the time of the event.
  •          Private Training:  Some parents decide to go it alone and combine at club and regional level to employ coaches to train a number of sailors. While this can help individual children it is preferable if sailors part-take fully in club and IODAI run events in addition to private training as this helps develop the fleet as a whole. 
  •         Some Irish sailors link up with other countries for training and then go to take part in a major regatta with upwards of 400 competitors from all over Europe. This gives young sailors an excellent opportunity to experience top-flight racing in big fleets for the first time. Eg Garda at Easter / French Nationals / Malta Christmas Regatta/ Orange Bowl USA.
  •          Parents have to fund participation in the international events. The Association tries to keep costs as low as possible. The greater the participation in IODAI’s activities the greater the efficiencies are in delivering the offering.
  •          Sailors are encouraged to participate in Championships outside Ireland and many compete in events in the UK and Europe.
  •          The ISA invite a number of selected sailors each year to join the Irish National Optimist Squad (ISA Squad).


  1.     What is the ISA Squad?

The ISA National Optimist Squad 

The concept of the ISA Optimist Squad had been in the offing for a number of years before it actually got off the ground in 2007. The general principle was twofold:

  1.     That the ISA are given money by the Sports Council each year to support sailing.  The Sports Council support the ISA Performance pathway and as such fund the programmes being rolled out as part of this pathway. This same principle is applied by the Sports council for all other sports that receive funding.  The level of funding given to the ISA is determined by a benchmarking system known as the Carding System.  Basically the ISA’s performance is assessed by the sports council on International success both past, present and future, the organisation structure and strategy and progress. You can read more about “carding” and The ISA Performance Pathway by visiting the ISA performance website.
  2.     The selection process is detailed on the ISA website in Aug / Sept each year.  Any sailor can apply and usually 12-16 will be chosen for this squad. many sailors opt not to apply for the ISA squad as they may already have an extensive training programme in their own club & this may be enough for the sailor.

Note that due to budget constraints Irish Sailing’s support has proven to be fickle and currently the Squad is not being run. The Association will seek ways to provide a similar programme. The Association expects its top sailors to part-take in any such performance programme.


  1.     What are the rankings?

Each Optimist sailor in the Main fleet, junior or senior, acquires a ranking based on their results in the ranking events.  Ranking events are the four Regionals and the Nationals.  (NB you must attend the National championships to be eligible to compete in the trials the following season) Final year rankings are based on the best two regional and the Nationals results.  End of season rankings determine whether a sailor will be invited to attend the trials or other events where IODAI may receive an invitation for a limited number of sailors in the winter months.

  1.     What are the trials?

The trials are often described as our most serious event and they determine which sailors will qualify to represent Ireland at the World; European and IDT (international development team)  All sailors under 12 yrs who are invited to the trials will automatically qualify for the under 12 Squad.

  1.     Who is invited to the trials?

The top 45 juniors (2016 onwards) & top 40 seniors from the previous year based on the final rankings are invited to the trials once age retirees have been excluded from the senior fleet.

  1.     Who qualifies for the Worlds Team?

Traditionally, the top five sailors at the trials are invited to represent Ireland at the World Championships.  See below “Who qualifies for teams ?”

  1.     Who qualifies for the European Team?

The next 7 sailors at the trials are invited to represent Ireland at the European Championships ( in 2015 we were allowed 8 sailors).  However since the Europeans involve a “girls’ championship”; the makeup of the team must contain 4 of one gender and 3 of the other. See below “Who qualifies for teams ?”

  1.     How many qualify for the IDT Team?

The next seven sailors with a minimum of 2 of one gender qualify for the International development team which usually attends the French Nationals in July each year.

 10. Summary of who qualifies for teams?

In 2009 the  IODAI Committee imposed new rules.  In consultation with the ISA it was decided when a world championships is in a long distance venue and in the winter time IODAI reserves the right not to send a team. In such circumstances an individual who finishes in the top 5 at trials may still opt to attend worlds at their own expense. IODAI / ISA does not contribute in such circumstances.  There are numerous reasons for this but mainly based on cost; distance, logistics; and the fact that many sailors return from such tough championships with unfulfilled ambitions which can be considered to have a detrimental effect on their future sailing career. In 2015  and 2016 a full Irish team will attend the World Championships as the event is in Europe.

This decision will be reviewed on a yearly basis.

11.  What is an Under 12 Sailor?

This is often difficult to understand but basically if a sailor is under 12 on the 1st January he is an Under 12 throughout that year.  All sailors born in 2004 or later are Under 12’s in 2016.

12.  How do sailors qualify for the Under 12 Squad?

Although this will be kept under review each year, those Under 12 sailors who compete in the trials will be invited to form the Under 12 Squad.

13.  What does the Under 12 Squad do?

The Under 12 Squad is invited by IODAI to enter the UK National Championships.  They will receive training before the championships and will have coaching and logistical support during their attendance.

14  What funding / grant is there for Squads and Teams?

Sailors elected for Squads and Teams will be provided with additional training and this varies from year to year but is notified to all at the trails each year.  To qualify for the full IODAI grant a sailor who makes a team must continue to sail their optimist at regional events which take place before their international event  & all training as notified at the trials.  Parents from 2016 trials  pay the full cost of the team their child has qualified for and receives the IODAI grant in September provided they have adhered to the above rule. Those sailors who do not attend a minimum of 2 regional events and all prescribed training will not receive the grant.  Thus if you decide to send your child to Gaeltacht or take the sailor on holidays thus missing out on vital preparation the parent must bear the full cost of the team place. This is a similar rule to other countries. As a guide a team place in 2015 cost 3200 per child and there was a €600 grant. For U 12 sailors their programme including team gear cost €450.  These are guides only.

15. What training is there outside Ireland for sailors not in a Squad or Team?

There are a number of training camps throughout Europe that sailors can attend.  Many precede major regattas.  Some are published on this website from time to time.  Others can be found by surfing the web.  Many parents combine a European Regatta with a family holiday.

16.  How do I get a sail number for a new Optimist?

Allocation of sail numbers for Optimists is through the ISA.

To register an Optimist, send your blue and white Registration & Measurement Book (which should have come with the boat) to the ISA offices, together with the €30 fee, and ensuring that you have completed the middle section by entering your child’s name and address. The ISA will complete the registration for you and send your booklet back to you by return of post. Optimists must be registered in order to race in any event, so please ensure you register the boat in good time.

Irish Sailing Association
3 Park Rd, Dun Laoghaire – Co. Dublin – Ireland
For any queries please contact Dorleta Rodriguez on +353 1 2710104 or send an email to racing@sailing.Iie

17.  I’ve bought a boat without a certificate.  How do I get a new one?

It is not uncommon for registration papers to be mislaid or lost. If your Optimist has been registered previously, IODA can supply a replacement hull measurement book for a GRP (fibreglass) Optimist once the hull number can be identified.

International Optimist Dinghy Association
8 Deans Lane, Chesterton, Stoke-on-Trent,
Staffordshire ST5 6BU, Great Britain

Secretary: Sally Burnett
Fax: +44 1782 801222*

New GRP boats will come with the Hull Measurement papers from the manufacturer.

All of the equipment must be independently measured (well in advance) before the boat can be used in competition.

Measurement Papers Hull replacement papers are available (at a small cost) from IODA.All other measurement forms will require re-measurement by an official measurer to ensure that they conform.This is a ‘must’ for a racing boat that will compete in IODAI main fleet events.
Hull Manufacturer’s log-book with official hull plate number matching.
Spars Mast, Boom, Sprit should each have a measurement form.
Foils Rudder & dagger-board should each have a measurement form.
Sails Detailed measurement form required for each sail before it be used in events.
Official Measurers IODAI have a limited number of official measurers. These people have been certified capable of measuring the Optimist and its component parts so that they comply with official IODA regulations.It takes several hours to measure all parts for a new boat and although the measurers usually provide this service free of charge, they are not required to do so.It is recommended that the owner make a contribution in kind for the time that a measurers gives.For a full list of current measurers, contact the IODAI secretary
IODA Measurement Forms for the Optimist http:// home.htm

18.  Where do I find a measurer?

The following list of measurers was updated In December 2015.

Please note there is a charge of €25 for a sail measurement & €50 for a full boat measurement.  Please pay the measurer, do not wait for them to ask.

 Name  Phones  E-mail  Address
 Finbarr O’Regan  +353-86-8367260  
Jim McMahon 086-8034980 Location : Howth
Paul Keal Cork
Olive Parker Mobile:  0872664202Home:  018494572 14 The Brambles, Skerries
Oisine Hannan  086-8299741 Lucan & NYC
Adrian Waters  087 979 5696 41 Stillorgan Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.RStGYC
 John Collins Home  091 776428

  1.   087 0522398  Galway Bay Sailing Club
 Tony Cournane  Mobile 0872574957  KYC

19.  What is the maximum age to sail an Optimist?

Sailors are permitted to enter the Optimist Worlds and other big regattas until they are 15, i.e. until and including the year in which they have their 15th birthday.
But some sailors do get too big before then.

20.  When am I too big for the Optimist?

A lot depends on local conditions, particularly during the summer holidays.
If you sail in a place that never gets more than 8 knots in summer, you are going to have problems winning over 55 kg.

If you feel you are getting nowhere and there is a good alternative boat locally, try it. Plenty of older Optimist sailors “cross- train” – sail a more powerful boat as well as an Optimist.  The ISA pathway is an excellent reference as to where to go after optimists.   More and more sailors are now moving on to the next class long before the reach the maximum age.

21.. What are the junior and senior fleets? 

Junior = aged 12 and under

Senior = aged 13 and over

22.  Membership for a family of 3

IODAI appreciates that having 3 sailors in the fleet at one time can be expensive.  For this reason, each family must pay their annual membership and then can request a refund for one sailor.  Membership must be paid online in the first instance as this activates your child’s sailing profile and enables them to enter events.  Refund is via paypal, please contact if you have 3 or more IODAI members in January each year.

23. Refunds

There are no refund for entries  for an IODAI event except in exceptional circumstances and with a medical Cert. The committee may decide to issue a refund if notified up to 48 hours before the event.  After this deadline IODAI has to pay the hosting club for all entries hence refunds are not possible regardless of the circumstances. Notify




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