Junior Dinghies

Optimist Dinghy

Question: What do Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainsley ,Irish Olympic Sailor Ciara Peelo and over 85% of all the Medal winning sailors at the Beijing Olympics have in common?

 Answer: Yes you guessed it they all learned to sail in an Optimist. Ciara Peelo was an Optimist sailor only a few short years ago, Ben Ainsley sailed his Optimist  until he outgrew it at 14 years old.

The Optimist is really an excellent boat for a young person to learn to sail. It remains the only boat to be approved by the International Sailing Federation exclusively for sailors under 16 years old. Sailed by 150,000 Sailors worldwide in 110 Countries, it is the biggest dinghy class in the world, and the fastest growing.
 The junior section at Skerries Sailing Club is very active, with training  sessions available in the spring and in the autum.The summer months are mostly taken up with Regional and National events,which take place at various sailing clubs around Ireland. In Fact Skerries hosted the Leinster Regional  Event in 2008 . There is also many midweek and weekend Racing sessions that run through the summer. Here the young sailors can race against each other in a very safe and fun filled environment, where the new sailors can learn so much from the more experienced. We are lucky to have Excellent Coaches in the junior section in Skerries ,some of whom have sailed for Ireland in the Olympics.

Optimist Sailing provides a platform where Boys and Girls can compete on an equal basis, in fact the yearly rankings often show a 50/50 split. Typically the sailors start learning to sail at around 9  years of age ,but 11 or 12 years old is not to late to start, even to get to the top of the fleet.

Young people can Sail at what ever level they wish. Some may wish to follow the circuit of events around the country and some are happy to sail at home here in Skerries for the season. Either way, most parents find that sailing gives young people a great sense of personal achevement.At the very least they will have great  memories of sailing in Skerries Sailing Club.

Some Facts About Optimist Boats

Designed by Clarke Mills in Florida in 1947.
2.31 M long  1.13 M wide and weighs about 35 kegs (77 lbs)
The single sail is Sprit rigged, and is secured evenly with ties to the mast and boom. It has a dagger board and rudder ,and is fitted with 3 Buoyancy bags. Although Originally made of wood, the vast majority now  are Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP)

Each boat is marked with a Blue numbered label called a ISAF Building fee plaque .This plaque ,subject to measurement allows the boat to be sailed at events from local events to worldwide .
Optimist is a One Design boat witch provides a level playing field when it comes to racing competitively.
So simply put if it doesn’t have the blue sticker its not an Optimist .There are a lot of look a like boats in the market place and parents should be aware that these boats may provide an excellent low cost starter boat to learn to sail in, but they will not be permitted to race against other optimists in competitions.
Each boat has a Registration booklet and measurement Cert. The Sail is marked with a unique sail number.
There is over 1,300 Optimists Registered in Ireland in 2008.

An optimist can be transported on top of a car fitted with a roof rack. 

About the Mirror

The Mirror was first promoted as a boat that would provide affordable sailing enjoyment for the whole family. In many countries the role has shifted to that of a youth training boat. This trend is evident in the results of international competition. The last six Mirror World's have been won by young adult helmsmen.

Mirror trained sailors go on to compete successfully in other classes such as the 470, 420, Fireball International and gold in the Olympics.

The mirror dinghy equips young sailors with the ability and the environment to learn tactical and crew relation skills that no other class can match to the same extent.

To find out more about the Mirror class in Skerries, email juniors@skerriessailingclub.com

About the Laser

For those of you who’d like to sail in a single-handed boat after leaving the optimist class you could try out the laser.  It is also a single sail boat and has 3 interchangeable sails and rigs – 4.7, radial and full rig, to cater for all sizes of sailors.  The 4.7 is the smallest of these rigs.  The Laser is suitable to sail from young teenagers to adult.

If you want to pleasure sail or enjoy racing against others this could be the boat for you.  As there are 3 rigs, they are all handicapped differently so when racing you have a fair chance of beating someone else who’s racing in a full rig if the conditions and experience are in your favour! 


Our junior sailors compete on the circuit as in the optimist class the laser class hosts Ulster, Munster, Leinster, Connaught and National events yearly.  When racing in these events you sail against your own rig-type.

Lasers are possibly the most common dinghies sailed today resulting in an abundance of boats available. If you know of anyone with a laser lying idle in a garden do not hesitate to advise them it could be put to better use.   We have some hulls sailing in Skerries aged 30 years plus so they are a good investment and looked after they last a lifetime.

The Laser fleet welcomes beginners, improvers and experienced sailors.  In Skerries we have training and club racing by experienced coaches throughout the year.

To find out more about the Laser class in Skerries, email juniors@skerriessailingclub.com

About the Topper


The Topper is an 11 foot sailing dinghy designed by Ian Proctor. It is recognized as an International class by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). The boat is constructed from polypropylene, and is popular as a racing boat or for sail training.

The Topper has a very competitive racing fleet, yet is a good training boat because of its robust construction. It is easy to rig, whether one has the standard, or the racing spec, and simple to maintain. Because the hull is from a single manufacturer, there isn’t the need for measurements at every event.  It’s fun, its accessible, its competitive, and known internationally as the “Friendly Class”!

It is a good choice for those who want to continue single-handed sailing if their weight or size means they have to leave their Oppy. It is also a good choice for those who are starting sailing at a later age/ heavier weight. Because of their similarities in rigging, the Topper allows for a very smooth transition into a Laser at a later stage.  

The Topper is recognized as a ISA Pathway Class at Junior level

To find out more about the Topper class, email juniors@skerriessailingclub.com

Advert: Craft Insure

today's weather forecast
Tomorrow's weather forecast
Click on the maps or links below for more detailed forecasts from
Met Eireann.
(Wind speeds are in km/hour)

24hr Synoptic Chart
48hr Synoptic Chart