The Optimist was designed in 1947 by American Clark Mills at the request of the Clearwater Florida Optimist service club following a proposal by Major Clifford McKay to offer low-cost sailing for young people. The Optimist Club ran a soap box derby, but wanted more than a single-day event. Thus they were looking for a low-cost equivalent for sailing. He designed a simple pram that could be built from two 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood, and donated the plan to the Optimists. The design was slightly modified and introduced to Europe by Axel Damgaard, and spread outwards across Europe from Scandinavia.
The design was standardised in 1960 and became a strict One-Design in 1995.
The Optimist is sailed in over 120 countries and it is one of only two yachts approved by the International Sailing Federation exclusively for sailors under 16.
Over late December through to mid January the Youth classes of Australia hold their National Champs at various locations in one state. However for 2015, Freemantle Sailing Club was the hub for the 420 Nationals, Optimist Nationals and the National Youth Championships. This is a little highlight r...