Singapore have completed their search for a youth class to act as the stepping stone from the Optimist dinghy.
Optimist sailing in Singapore is expanding at a very rapid rate. The average Optimist entry in the local ranking regattas has increased from 66 entries in 1998 to 97 entries in 2000. This year to-date, the average entry figure is above 100.
The increased popularity of optimist sailing is due mainly to the introduction of the National Optimist Sailing Scheme that was set up in 1994. The focus of the scheme is of a structured optimist programme commencing from training to proficiency certification at club and national level. This was augmented by the National Optimist Certification Scheme introduced in 2000 to give further recognition to the young sailors who take up sailing.
Currently, the Optimist sailors upon graduating at the age of 16 proceed on to either the Laser or the 420 class. The Laser and 420 classes being a higher performance crafts, are not suitable for the graduated Optimist sailors especially those with smaller physical attributes. The Topper, though it is not an ideal boat for further development, was adopted as the interim class for the Optimist sailors while Singapore Sailing searched for a suitable boat.
The Topper class has experienced a very rapid increase in regatta participation, a testimony to the growing popularity in sailing amongst the youth and their eagerness to want to continue to sail. The recently concluded Singapore Topper Championship and the National Inter-Schools Championships (Topper event) saw entries of 109 and 184 boats, respectively. In our search for a suitable boat, we have since identified the Byte as the boat to provide for this continuity and to encourage sailors to further their sailing career.