Everyone who loves recreational boating is painfully aware of the demographics of the average boat owner. Boating needs young people. Can Optis fix that?
It’s interesting that Major Clifford McKay of the Clearwater Florida Optimist Club had the same intent in 1947 when he requested a local gentleman by the name of Clark
Mills to design a low-cost, easily built sailing dinghy that children could race as an on-water version of the then-popular Soap Box Derby.
Mills’ plans of an economical sailing program were donated to the Optimist Club. THe design would go on to become one of the most popular boats ever built. More than 150,000 boats have been registered within sailboat racing’s One-Design category. The Optimist Pram is the biggest youth racing class in the world. Opti programs have introduced countless children to boating.
This spring, yacht clubs and summer camps throughout the Southeast will continue the tradition when they begin accepting registrations for programs dedicated to teaching young sailors in what has become lovingly referred to as Optis.
Bow to Stern Boating in Oriental, North Carolina, is a great example of a successful youth sailing program. Its Youth Sailing Camp offers a kid-friendly, yet intensive sailing experience to students ages 7 to 16.
The program combines on-the-water experience with classroom activities for beginner, intermediate and advanced sailors. Young sailors are able to progress through the different levels at their own pace. Registration opens in May with programs running
from June 17th-August 23rd.
Additionally, Bow to Stern Boating offers a fleet of over 60 boats available for charter such as sailboats from 8′ to 45′ or power vessels perfect for cruising local creeks or for taking a Neuse River voyage. They also provide group programs for Scouts, Church Groups, Military Groups and even Corporate Training teams.
By Bob Arrington, Southern Boating May 2019