Originally Posted by camaraderie
So Giu...what is the difference between what Fred has now (aside from the dents!) and a "state of the art opti?"
If one is a big advantage over the other, how do they allow that in the class association? I thought class associations were designed to see who is the best sailor not who has the best boat??
Cam, your asking difficult questions now..
There are 3 classifications for the kids in Optimists, based on their age, Infantil, Junior and Juvenil. (I don't know the names in English), but Infantil is like 7 to 10, Junior is from 10 to 12, and Juvenil is up to 14, and these are the high competition levels, where kids can compete even outside a club, and the class rules are less forgiving, the competition level is quite high and the differences here lie in tactics and faster/better hulls and material, just like any other competition, still inside box rules off course. (these are the kids in the World series).
(May I remind you that you, our US friends were the ones that started reading the loop holes in regulations and came out with the round roach Optimist sails, I think 8 years ago, but now they are forbidden, this to show that every ounce counts)
For Infantil and juniors, the boat doesn't really matter, as they are still being sorted out in the races by what mistakes they do, where they go, who stays upright, etc. as you mention, boat quality here is of less importance, most boats are property of the club they represnt, and the championships are done between clubs of the 3 regions we have (North Center and South), however, the tendency is to see more and more private boats in the junior levels because kids change the clubs, and most kids start appreciating having their own boat, so they become affectionate with it, start knowing the boat instead of sailing a different boat all the time. I got him one because we take the boat on our holidays for him to play around us, and because in the beginning I was teaching him how to sail and he changed club, bringing his boat along. After all its his boat...different taste...
So to answer your question, this boat thing is not so much for the regular Infantil and some Juvenil classes, the most common club races,(as you said, its to sort the best sailors, not the best boat), but for those that are now in the final stages of Opti competition, and have already been sorted...once sorted, the best, the difference really is in the sailor brain and his equipment choice.
There are some differences, between boats from 10 years ago and now, for example in the finish of the hull, before the hulls were either gell coat or painted and polished, now they have water repelent coatings (your not even allowed to use solvents to clean them), that make them glide better, the masts, booms etc. now are made from aeronautical aluminiums, with flex ratings based on the sailor's weight and type of sailing (like tenis raquets and string tension), the sheets now are mostly dyneema, the rudders and center boards are high tech finish and flex, etc. All still inside the regulations.
Of course, the moral factor also counts, a kid feels much better when he is sailing on a boat that is similar to the ones his buddies are using.
That is why I said, when the time comes, Fred will get his Super duper Opti, a very expensive thing by the way, but as I said, he first needs to move on, show the results, then we talk about it. For now he is moving up the ranks, his boat is just fine.