Youth Info

Starting off

Parkstone Yacht Club is the home to the AB dinghy which has been sailing in the harbour and the surrounding area for nearly 70 years. Immediately recognisable with their colourful hulls and sails, these little pram dinghies have proven to be extremely popular for generations of families. At 8 feet in length they are big enough (just about!) for an adult to join a child when they are learning the magic of sailing for the first time. Once a little more confident, the AB is easily and safely sailed by young children either solo or, thanks to its traditional mainsail and jib, as a helm and crew, providing the perfect platform to learn sailing skills for any bigger boat. There are over 40 ABs regularly sailing and racing at the Club.  Some are now over 60 years old themselves and these craft can often be an affordable way for families to get afloat with very young children. Meanwhile ABs continue to be manufactured either professionally in GRP or home-made in wood; these newer boats tend to be raced competitively by children up to 11 years old.

Since the introduction of the Optimist Class there is now another alternative for youngsters to learn the ropes. With its light-weight, modern materials and great stability the Optimist is an ideal boat for learning to sail and getting competent in steering your own boat after just a few sessions. The Optimist class is the world's most popular dinghy with more than 500,000 worldwide. It is a key component of the RYA Junior Pathway. Through a heavy focus on training, the local fleet is very experienced in taking beginners and turning them into very competent sailors in just one or two seasons.


When the youth sailors have outgrown the AB or Optimist they will usually opt for the Topper or RS Feva.

Those that have an interest in performance dinghy sailing and joining the RYA Pathway, may migrate from their introduction in ABs to an Optimist. Sailors who have reached a certain size and weight may find Toppers a very good single handed option, whereas the RS Feva is a popular choide for those who want to sail a 2 person boat.

...& Widening Choices

At the present time most Optimist and Topper sailors will progress to either the Laser 4.7, Laser Radial or the RSFeva. These classes offer increasingly powerful boats for both the single hander and full crews to develop their skills. We also currently have youth sailors racing RS200s in the youth racing, giving the option of two-handed asymmetric spinnaker dinghy.


All the Youth Classes have an active racing programme throughout the year. In the summer months (April - September inclusive) the youth classes race on Sunday mornings. From October to December the Toppers, ABs, RS Fevas and Optimists race on Saturday afternoons whilst the Lasers race with the adults on Sunday mornings. For the most competitive, the Toppers, Lasers and Optimists open the door to regional, national and international regattas along with access for the successful to join RYA squads.




RYA Accreditations

RYA Training Centre