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Home / Junior & Youth / Training / Junior ‘Oppie' Club
Home / Junior & Youth / Training / Junior ‘Oppie' Club

Junior ‘Oppie' Club

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The Burghfield Optimist (Oppie) Club, helps to introduce children aged 7 and over to sailing developing their sailing skills and confidence on the water in an informal environment. Oppie Club runs Sunday mornings 09.30 to 12.00 hours from April to September. Burghfield is well suited for kids learning to sail and during the summer, part of the lake, away from the main racing area, is buoyed off so novices can begin in safety. There is no charge for club members and the club is run purely by volunteers from our parent and sailing community. We try to sail no matter the weather, if there is too much wind we reduce the rig for the beginners, if there is no wind we play games.

Starting Oppie Club

Oppie Club takes kids from Beginner up to IOCA Grade 3. Budding recruits must be aged at least 7 as of April each year and should be able to swim 25m with a lifejacket. We have learned over the the years that 7 really is the minimum suitable age. Oppie Club is structured along the lines of the IOCA Grades. Start being the beginners Group, followed by Grades 1 and 2, we've called Grade 3 Regatta and beyond this is the Racing Group. The Club provides 10 Oppies for Start Group. To progress to level 1 and beyond kids will require their own boat, these can however generally be bought at the club second hand from children moving into youth squad that have outgrown their Oppies. In most cases second hand Optimists if looked after can be sold for what they were bought for and do not require a significant amount of money to buy, on average £300 to £500.

Group Skill Levels

The instruction at BSC OC is based on the IOCA grading scheme, this has several stages as described below. IOCA have created their document as a set of pages that combine all grades under the specific skills. These documents are used by each Group leader to track the progress of each individual child on a weekly basis.



Start Sailing

Getting Afloat


The Basics


Can compete in Open meetings

Regatta (3)

Confident & experienced sailor

Racing (Red)1

Develop advanced racing techniques

Topper, 4.7, Feva, ...

Teach a mixture of the skills in the above groups, and the specific skills required for the boat, e.g. Jib or Spinnaker

Optimist Racing Group

Sailors that have developed their ability to IOCA Grade 3 and above, can progress into our racing fleet. During April to October, this runs alongside Oppie Club. During the colder months this runs as a standalone, sometimes there are dedicated training sessions, sometimes these are combined with other regional sailors, other times the kids compete in normal club Sunday racing. The racing group is aimed at those sailors who wish to compete with their friends and attend open meetings. To race a sailor needs an Optimist that is suitable for racing and the necessary kit and clothing to spend longer periods out on the water. Sailing in the racing group is more challenging and sailors are expected to increase their commitment in order to progress. Some racing group members sail between three and four times a week during the summer and weekly during the winter, however this is entirely optional and is not for everyone. Racing group sailors are encouraged to apply for the RYA zone squads and IOCA Squads and to attend the optimist winter training programme organised over the winter period. Those in the racing group must become a member of IOCA.

How it works…

Racing group is divided into three fleets, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The Bronze fleet and are encouraged to sail in the regatta fleet at open meetings. The Silver fleet is for those who are sailing in the main fleet at events and will usually have achieved the IOCA racing red award. Gold fleet is primarily aimed at those who have been selected to train in the RYA zone squads* and the IOCA squads. Training for the racers is generally organised most Sunday mornings at 1030 and on Friday evenings during the summer. Most of the racing group also join in with the clubs Wednesday evening series. On occasion's single day and weekend training is organised with professional coaches, on these occasions parental contributions are required towards costs.


Racing group sailors require a high level of parental support, including financial, emotional and most importantly, time. Please seek advice from the fleet leaders at every stage of your child's development. Sailing is a very challenging and complex sport and the standards of the Optimist fleet are very high throughout the country. However, the rewards are high in terms of a child's personal development and confidence. Young sailors make lifelong friends on the circuit and often become immersed in a sailing lifestyle that is both positive and productive and most importantly lots and lots of fun.

IOCA Grading and Membership

There is no requirement for any of the kids to formally join IOCA and complete the IOCA grading scheme. However, kids need IOCA grades if they are to compete in Open events. If your child is a member of IOCA we will monitor their development and sign off the achievements in the official IOCA log book. IOCA offer price reductions for more than 1 child, for more information please follow the link on the site to the IOCA website.

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