The CABBS Optimist Pram

No other boat in the world has surpassed the popularity of the Optimist Pram as a sail trainer for kids. Over 400,000 have been built worldwide since Clark Mills designed the boat in 1948.

The CABBS Optimist is plywood on frame construction and assembled with construction adhesive and screws. Simple and quick to build with common hand tools, it can be crafted in 40 – 60 hours. The boat weighs approximately 65 lbs.

The CABBS Optimist Plans

The CABBS Optimist plans are based on plans published in an early 50’s boating magazine and were drawn in 2006 to support a youth boatbuilding program on Cleveland’s Lake Erie waterfront.  The CABBS Optimist will not meet the measurement requirements for competition as stipulated by the International Optimist Association.

The CABBS Optimist is an excellent sail training platform and perpetuates the Optimist dinghy designer Clark Mills’ ideal of offering youth a sailboat they could build with a minimum of hand tools and woodworking skills.

cabbs_opti2The CABBS Optimist plans are available digitally as a PDF file.  The file includes nine pages of construction drawings covering every part of the boat.   The construction jig and boat components are fully dimensioned. A four page assembly text recommends materials and walks the builder through the assembly process.

The builder can work from their computer screen, print out the plans on a home printer,  or use a local resource to print out pages of the plans on 18″ X 24″ sheets.

The PDF of the CABBS Optimist plans cost $35 USD. The plans are copyrighted and give the buyer permission to build one boat from the plans. Proceeds from the sale of the plans help to support CABBS youth boatbuilding efforts.

How to Order

boys-launching-optisWe are a small organization with a simple old-school order process.  Send us an e-mail expressing your interest in the plans at   Include your mailing address and phone number.  We will reply.  We will then direct you to send your $35USD check for the plans to:
CABBS Opti Plans
1010 Pebble Beach Cove
Painesville, OH  44077

Once we receive your check we will e-mail you the PDF file of the CABBS Optimist plans and construction text.

Building a CABBS Optimist

panel-port-side2Yes, you can do it! Take a look at a series of construction photos from
Frank Manley’s build. The photos cover the jig, the frame, the panels, and finishing the hull.
Frank Manley’s CABBS Optimist

alastair-at-bench2   Need some inspiration to take the first step? Take a look at
OSPREY, a CABBS Optimist built by 11 year-old Alastair of Inverness, British Columbia.
OSPREY, CABBS Optimist by Alastair

screen-shot-2015-09-30-at-12-33-41-pm New Englander Roger Cortesi shot a time-lapse video of his family building a CABBS Opti. It’s a great demonstration of the building steps.
Roger Cortesi Opti Build Video

Even more information

Want to learn more about building an Optimist? Here is a great site that compiles just about anything you wanted to know about building an Opti.

Optimist Racing

Although the CABBS Optimist is true to Clark Mills’ objectives and fun to sail, it will not meet the measurement requirements for sanctioned racing competition under the International Optimist Association.

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