Sailing Pathways

Pathways for sailing



There are numerous options for kids wanting to progress with their sailing once they have completed their Learn to Sail program. The path you choose will depend on what you enjoy in sailing; do you like the competitive aspect or would you rather be having fun in a sailing dinghy with a couple of friends messing around on the beautiful Tauranga harbour?


The typical development path for a sailor is to start off in an Optimist before moving to the more advanced classes. The Optimist is very stable and safe yet can be raced against sailors at all levels, even at World Championships. Once the child has outgrown an Opti they can move to an Open Skiff, a P Class or a Starling. Each boat has its advantages and disadvantages. Below is some more information on each class and some indicative costs.



Tauranga Yacht Club has a full-time sailing school that delivers world class sailing coaching ranging from the very basic Level 1 Learn to Sail program to very advanced coaching for our top competitive sailors. Coaching is available during the week (usually after school) or during weekends and school holidays.


Once the kids have completed Level 3 coaching, they usually progress to the Optimist group coaching where sailors are in Optis and are taught the basics of racing and seamanship. There is class specific coaching and coaches for the Opti, the Open Skiff, P Class, Starling and Lasers respectively.




The boat where every sailor learns the basics. The boats are typically made of fibreglass however there are still some wooden boats but they are not worth buying as the fibreglass boats are more competitive and have a better resale value. There are two main brands in NZ, the Winner and the Far East, both are excellent boats and as they are a strict one design class there is very little difference between them.


If you are looking at buying a second hand Opti have a good look at the hull for repairs and also make sure that the mast and boom are not corroded and this will lead to breakage and expensive replacements. You will generally require 2 sails, one for coaching and recreational racing and one for serious racing. A new sail costs around $750 so well worth paying a bit extra for an Opti with a good race sail. Boat covers and mast covers are generally not of much use as the Optis are kept in the shed. A good second hand Opti (with a sail number of 4000 upwards) should be about $1500 upwards. A brand-new boat will be about $4000 upwards.


Open Skiff

The Open Skiff (also known as the Open Bic) is a very robust and easy to sail dinghy that is very popular in Auckland but less so in Tauranga. The hull is made of plastic so they are almost indestructible and very easy to rig. Second hand boats sell for $3000 upwards and a new one is around $5000


P Class

The P Class is a classic NZ design and according to many people the reason why NZ has produced so many top sailors. The boat has a very peculiar design making it very difficult to sail so not ideal for a beginner however a great boat to move to once the Opti is no longer ideal. Tauranga Yacht Club owns the P Class design and has a long and proud history of P Class sailors.


Most P Class boats are made of wood although there are a few fibreglass ones around. The top boats are all wooden with a carbon mast. The P Class range enormously in price, ranging from “free to a good home” listings to over $6000 for a top boat. It isn't easy to tell a top boat from an average boat so if you consider buying a P Class have a word with some of the P Class legends at the club,



The Starling is an unusual class as it is an open class meaning anyone can sail and race a Starling however most of the regattas have junior Starling races where participants need to be under 18. The Starling is a classic design dating back to 1969. Since then almost 1500 boats have been built ranging from top end wooden and carbon race boats built by Americas Cup team members to some very basic yet seaworthy boats. There are also fibreglass Starlings, the boats with number 2000 to 2060 were built by SailOne and the boats with numbers 2100 upwards are built by Mackay boats in Auckland.


The Starling range in price from $500 for a beat up old wooden boat to $12,500 for a brand-new Mackay boat or similar for a new wooden boat built by a professional boat builder.



The Laser is an international one design class and is also raced at the Olympics. This is typically a more advanced boat and suits a sailor who has been competitively sailing for a few years. Prices range from “free to a good home” for a really beat up old boat to $14,000 for a brand-new boat. Typically, a competitive boat would have a sail number 180000 upwards and cost $5000 upwards.




Sailing can range from a kid messing around with an Optimist to a professional team racing around the world on a foiling race boat or something in-between. There is also the option to go cruising, be it in a dinghy on the harbour or on a keelboat sailing around the world.


Tauranga Yacht Club caters for dinghies and keelboats and a large number of the kids do dinghy racing and also crew on the keelboats. There is also the option once they get to college to participate in 420 team racing, a two-handed class of dinghy that is raced on the harbour.




The options for racing are as follows:

  • Optimist (8 – 15 years and under 50kg)
  • Open Skiff (10 – 15 years and under 60kg)
  • P Class (10 – 15 years, 50-60kg)
  • Starling (any age including grown-ups, 50- 65kg)
  • Laser Radial (any age including grown-ups, 60kg upwards)
  • Keelboat racing


Fun sailing

The club organises fun sailing days in addition to the activities of the Sailing School. Fun sailing is aimed at introducing more kids and families to sailing using two and three person boats. We go sailing to Matakana or other fun spots in the Harbour for picnics or barbeques and a lot of swimming.



Cruising around Tauranga happens mostly on keelboats, for more information contact the club.



Buying or renting a boat

A lot of parents prefer to see if their kids want to continue with sailing before committing to buying a boat. BOPSAT (a charity dealing with sailing) offers Optimists and Open Skiffs for rent on a term basis with the boat and all the necessary components supplied. The boats are stored with the other boats in our club storage area, making it very accessible and safe to use. The club storage costs $100 per year for members.


Cost to rent

Contact Roger Clark at 027 683 8466 for enquiries about boat rentals.


Who to contact:

General enquiries can be directed to Lynne and the team in the office on 07 578 5512


Sailing School enquiries should be directed to the Sailing Coordinator Jess McDowell

– 027 2496 998


Each class has a representative who will be able to help with any queries you may have


Optimist – Ailie Rundle 021 922 751

Open Skiff - n/a

P Class - n/a

Starling - Herman Rooseboom 027 2536 7849

Laser - n/a

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