It's hard when your kids catch Opti Fever and you don't even know exactly what an Opti is. Don't worry...we've got your back!
It's happening more and more in Mexico, which isn't really surprising, considering Mexico's rapidly growing economy, rising middle class and our country's incredible sailing opportunities.
The first thing you need to know is that sailing is an equal-opportunity sport. Girls and boys compete on equal footing. The second thing you need to know is that you are joining a community of sailors who are committed to helping your kids succeed in learning about both competition and teamwork. Lastly, once the sea is in your blood, she owns your heart for life. That's a good thing. It's hard to get in trouble when the sea keeps drawing you back with that siren song of waves on the beach, the smell of salt air in your lungs, the wind in your sails, the cry of gulls wheeling overhead and ...the thrill of competitive racing.
To help you navigate this new world your child has fallen in love with, we've developed a series for parents who need to get up to speed on what it's all about, learning the terminology and figuring out how things work.
This is Part 1. It explains what a beginning sailor needs to get started:
Optimist Sailing Dinghies (Optis, for short) are an entry-level type of small sailboat, suitable for kids between the ages of 7 and 15. Step one, enroll your child in a sailing class. Mexico has a ton of great sailing schools, with excellent coaches and they'll generally have selection of Optis for your kids to use as they begin their adventure. The schools may also have life jackets you can borrow or rent. If your child is serious about sailing, though, you'll want them to have their own life jacket.
Optimists are simple, by design, but they have everything needed to teach your kids the fundamentals of sailing:
- A sail, that harnesses the power of the wind to move the boat around.
- A rudder, that allows your child to steer the boat.
- A centerboard, which helps when steering in a straight line.
- A mainsheet, which is a rope that controls the sail.
- Lots of little control lines (ropes), cleats, cams, and blocks, which your young captain uses to fine tune the sail's performance.
Now that you know the basics, it's time to move on to Part 2...click here to find out more about the safety equipment that will keep your sailor safe and competitive.