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Classes are the types of boats that we sail. Pathways, most relevant for youth sailors, are progressions of classes for sailors as they develop both in size and ability.

For recreational or cruising sailing, it is more likely for people to choose a boat based on their ambitions – either sailing about in the bay, or maybe going on adventures further afield.

With sailing dinghy racing, a lot comes down to the sailor’s build / body type and whether someone wants to sail by themselves or in a double-handed boat with someone else.

It is also important to focus on a few classes, so that critical mass is achieved. It is always more fun racing against people in the same class of boat.

Of course, there is nothing to stop someone jumping from one pathway to another. In fact, many of our keenest young members will sail their own boat (either single or double-handed), sail 420s with their college team racing squad, race on a keelboat for TBCC Wednesday night racing, and even do windsurfing or wingfoiling!

The classes & pathways supported / encouraged by the club are detailed below, for both Youth and Adults.

Youth Sailing Pathways


Learn to Sail Programmes

Students progress at their own rate through the Beginner, Improver, and Intermediate groups in Holiday Programmes and Term Time Training for the relevant type of boat to their age (I.e. <11yrs = Optimist, and > 11yrs = Topaz). For more info, see here: Learn to Sail

Some may prefer to do seamanship training in Topaz / Fusions or move into the RS Feva groups and look at sailing with a gennaker.


Green Fleet

Students in Intermediates or above can join the Green Fleet and an introduction to Saturday club racing, in a fun and supportive environment.

Boat hire is FREE for those students participating in Term Time Training, and is subject to availability.

For more info, see here: Green Fleet


Commiting to purchasing a boat

At some point it is important to make the commitment to purchasing a boat! We find that the people who tend to stick around the most and take sailing furthest as a sport are the younger sailors who get into their own fibreglass Optimist at the right time. Not too early to get intimidated or to damage it, and not too late that they’ve got bored of sailing due to the slow plastic club boats! There are some great guides on the NZIODA website here:

Others will buy an O’Pen Skiff, Starling, ILCA, or RS Feva as their first boat.


Travelling to regattas

This is one of the best things about committing to sailing as a sport. Everything from the time on the road together as a family, meeting new friends or catching up with old ones, to sailing in new places and against new competitors.


Optimist > Starling > ILCA 6


Age: 8 – 15yrs

Weight: 35 – 55kg

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

The most popular junior & youth dinghy racing class in the world, the Optimist is often the starting point for a young sailors’ competitive sailing career.

There are numerous events all around the country for Optimist sailors, leading up to a National Championship over Easter.

Nelson’s Noah Malpot reached the top 5 in the country and qualified for the NZL Optimist World Championship team. Unfortunately, Covid-19 prevented him from being able to travel and compete.


Age: any (Nationals <19)

Weight: 48 – 70kg

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

Designed by the legendary Des Townson, the Starling is a beautiful boat; both to look at and to sail.

The class is exclusive to New Zealand. There is a very active racing fleet, and a very supportive class association.

Lightweight sailors of any age can sail and race them, but the National Championship is restricted to under 19s.


Age: any

Weight: 55 – 75kg

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

The ILCA 6 (formerly known as Laser Radial) is the Female Single-handed Olympic Class, and the Youth Olympic Class for both male and female athletes. The bigger rigged ILCA 7 (Laser Standard) is the Male Single-handed Olympic Class.

Together, they make up the largest fleet of boats racing at the club, and there is a great range of boats and sailors, from bach-boats through to sailors in the top ten nationally.

NYC is proud to be hosting the 2025 NZ ILCA National Championships over the 15th – 19th January 2025. SO, it is a great time to be getting into the class!

Skiff / Double-handed / Asymmetric

O’Pen Skiff > RS Feva > 29er

Open Skiff

Age: 8 – 19yrs

Weight: 30 – 65kg (~45kg most competitive)

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

The O’Pen Skiff (formerly O’Pen Bic) is a fun, fast, small skiff-style dinghy. They are one-design, and with a simple rig set-up that incorporates a windsurfing style monofilm sail.

The class is active in NZ, with events held around the country. These often include fancy-dress races, and different formats of racing for a fun and friendly atmosphere.

RS Feva

Age: any (Nationals are ‘Open’)

Combined Crew Weight: 90 – 120kg

Class Association: NZ RS Fevas

NYC Contact:

An obvious progression from sailing the club Fevas in Sailing School activities. The club boats can also be used in Saturday racing, but we’d love to see a fleet of privately owned boats growing at the club.

The RS Feva is a one-design class, that is increasing in popularity in NZ. It is a great introduction to sailing with asymmetric spinnakers / gennakers, and a fantastic stepping stone to the 29er.


Age: any (Nationals are ‘Open’)

Combined Crew Weight: 120-145kg

Class Association: NZ 29er Class

NYC Contact:

The 29er is a Youth Olympic Class, and the feeder class for the 49er and 49erFX Olympic Skiff Classes.

Fully battened powerful sails, single-trapeze; these are fast, inherently unstable boats that require a high degree of skill and athleticism to sail.

“This is a class in which girls and boys compete on a level playing field. Over a third of the fleet in the last World Championships in Poland were all-female crews. The first World Championship title for girls was awarded in 2019” 29er Class Association Website

Other Options

420 Team Racing – NBTS

Age: Yr 8 Term 4 – Yr 12

Combined Crew Weight: 110 – 125kg

College squads train one afternoon per week, and race on Sundays. Teams compete in the Top of the South Secondary Schools Regional Championships in March, with some going on to Nationals in April.

Learn more: Nelson Bays Team Sailing

Windsurfing & Wingfoiling

Age: >10

Many sailors at the club also windsurf or wingfoil, with some focusing on the freedom, joy and personal challenge of the sports, and others seeking the challenge of racing and competition.

Learn to Windsurf

Learn to Wingfoil

Keelboat Racing

Age: any (skippers will determine a minimum age)

Many sailors at the club also race on keelboats as part of the Tasman Bay Cruising Club‘s Wednesday Evening Series during the summer.

There are also youth keelboat programmes around the country, with camps and events run in fleets of Elliot 6s or Elliot 7s.

Adult Sailing Pathways

Learn to Sail Programme

Beginner and improver courses in Topaz Unos / Fusions. Either over a weekend, or a series of 6x weekday evenings.

Intermediate courses are run in RS Fevas / Omega, looking at crew work, seamanship skills, sailing with gennakers etc…

Sunday Supervised Hire is the time to practice and progress.

Tuesday Twilight Racing is a great opportunity to have a go at racing for the first time. Either in a club boat or your own boat.

There is a Club Racing Programme on Saturday afternoons through the season. A wide variety of classes are sailed, with the more prominent featured below.


Crew Weight: 50-75kgs

Class Association: Europe Class NZ

NYC Contact:

ILCA (Laser)

ILCA 6 (55-75kgs) / ILCA 7 (75-90kgs)

Class Association:

NYC Contact:


Crew Weight: 65-90kgs

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

OK Dinghy

Crew Weight: 70-110kgs

Class Association:

NYC Contact:


Crew Weight: 40-100kgs dep. on rig

Class Association: NZL WASZP group on FB

NYC Contact:

Flying Dutchman

Combined Crew Weight: 150-180kgs

Class Association: NZL FD Class on FB

NYC Contact:


Paper Tiger

Crew Weight: 65-80kgs

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

A Class Catamaran

Crew Weight: 70-90kgs

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

Doublehanded Cats

Tornado (Combined crew weight of 140-150kgs)

Viper 16, Nacra 17, etc…

NYC Contact:

Other options

Windsurfing & Windfoiling

Class Association:

NYC Contact:

Learn to Windsurf and start your journey to windfoiling!


Class Association: Wingfoil NZ on FB


Learn to Wingfoil and discover the freedom of flying above the water!

Keelboat Racing

Many NYC members also sail on keelboats for Wednesday night racing, or longer races at weekends. Tasman Bay Cruising Club can put you in touch with skippers looking for crew.