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Optimist Club Racer

Primer: Optimist Pram and the Club Racer

LOA: 7'6.1/2" 2.31 m
Max. Beam: 3'8" 1.13 m
Hull weight: 77 lbs
35 kg

Clark Mills designed the original Optimist Pram in 1947. His intention was to offer a simple boat that children could use to learn to sail and build themselves. We chose to name our version of the Optimist the "Club Racer" to reflect the original idea behind the design. The Club Racer is 99% the same as the epoxy/wood version of the Optimist as described by the IODA standards, however it differs in that it is much easier to build and will be more durable, and last longer.

In 2009 we were approached by a group of local volunteers who were starting a youth sailing club. Part of their idea was to have the young sailors build their own boats. We agreed to help them with the boat building portion.
The Optimist was the natural choice as they wanted to compete against other clubs.

After building an Optimist to the IODA standards in our shop, we realized it would be extremely difficult for an amateur (old or young) to build a boat which would comply with the hundreds of specs/standards. Some of these specs had to be accurate within 2 mm. We joked that if the idea was to design a set of rules that made building a "compliant boat" impossible, we could not have done a better job. Why put the local kids (and their parents) through the agony of all the specs if we knew they would probably miss out on a technicality?
Why not offer them a boat that could be built in half the time for half the money, but that would meet 99% of the rules. It seemed to us this was the original spirit of the idea of the Optimist! We used our experience in designing amateur friendly boats and boat kits to produce our version of the Optimist; the Club Racer.
The Club Racer will comply with almost every Optimist standard. The Club Racer hull shape is exactly the same as the Optimist. It is based on an accurate 3D computer model constructed from the IODA standards. We changed a few things that were (for anyone but a skilled woodworker) too difficult to build. Compared to a wood epoxy Optimist, the Club Racer has a lot fewer parts, thicknesses are standardized, and it is built to be more durable.
The Club Racer is also more economical to build: the IODA specification requires 4 different plywood thicknesses and 5 different cleat sizes.

About racing, "will my Club Racer be official?": Your Club Racer will likely never be measured unless until the child reaches a very high level of competition. Almost all optimist racing is inter-club sometimes between regional clubs.


There are no plans for the Club Racer, only a kit which includes detailed building notes.
Clark Mills did not copyright his design of the Optimist. Both Mr. Mills' design and the new version of the IODA wood/epoxy boat are available on line. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimist_(dinghy) It should be noted that an original Opti built to Mr. Mills specs would no longer "qualify".


The CNC plywood kit is available here , for orders of 10 or more kits we will give either a 10% discount or a free basket mold set. The epoxy/fiberglass kit is not included with the CNC kit, but is sold here. A finished hull ready for use with sails can be built for around $2000 or less.

Building Methods:

The Club Racer can be built two ways. The first is with the use of a basket mold system. A basket mold has the advantage of tighter tolerances and much faster production of multiple hulls. The basket mold system for the Club Racer is sold separately and can be found here, it is a great solution for a club or organization that would like to build a number of boats. See an extract from the building notes.
The design of our basket mold is copyrighted.
The Club Racer can also be built in our classic "stitch and glue" method. The building notes (extract) contain dimension drawings for 2 temporary molds for those who build their boat that way.

Required Skills:

The Club Racer is easy to build, much easier than any other Optimist kit. No woodworking skills or special tools are required.


A reasonable construction time for the hull is 60 hours or less. As with all boats a "yacht" level of finish will require more time.


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