Optimists or "Optis" are 8 ½’ beginner boats with 1 sail and 1 sailor for kids age 8-18. Kids larger than about 5'6” and 120 lbs sometimes feel kinda squished in these little boats and they might be better off in a V15.
Optis are raced competitively by teenagers so this height and weight isn't a requirement, its just advice to parents. However, we feel that for kids who can fit into them it is far better to start out in an Opti because it’s simpler and easier to sail and the kids learn more quickly because they have no one else in the boat to depend on.
V15s are 15’ intermediate boats with 2 sails and 2 sailors for kids age 11-16, weighing at least 90 lbs each, who have outgrown the Optis and want a more challenging, sophisticated, and faster boat. They are Olympic-class boats, but they are well-known for being excellent learning platforms even for beginners.
Sometimes we'll put 10 year olds in them if they’ve had previous sailing lessons or are physically too big for an Opti. It is also possible that an experienced sailor may be paired with a beginner in these boats. We have six of these boats, so if we only have five students in the class, occasionally we will put three kids in one boat.
Lasers are 14’ high performance single sail boats that carry one experienced youth sailor weighing more than 100 pounds. The reason for this weight requirement is that Lasers are quick and fast and you can’t keep them from tipping or “heeling“ over if you don’t weigh enough to offset the wind force on the sail.
Lasers are Olympic-class boats. Almost every world-class sailor started sailing in a Laser and raced them regularly to maintain top-notch proficiency; just like go-karts are to Formula One drivers. One week sailing in MBYC classes, or the equivalent experience, is all you need to qualify for lessons in these terrific boats. There are over 200,000 Lasers worldwide and young sailors LOVE to sail them, because they are zippy, fun and very competitive. Racing technique will be addressed much more in the Laser classes.