Model, buying for 6 year old, best for price?

My six year old son wants a sailboat, I have looked at the cheap nikko brand and the more expensive almost ready to sail boats and I want to know what the experts think, meaning you guys/girls? I am interested in the sport also, but I really don’t want to spend aload of money and find out it isn’t for me, besides I have a significant other that would frown upon spending big money on something for a six year old. I have built a sailplane and I have bought the electric planes you fly right out of the box, so I am not new to radio control per sea.

The standard answer is to try and find something sailing locally and get a look at it first hand. I think that this is important because you will get (IMHO) a different feel for the hobby depending on the boat you chose or have to look at for the first time. You can get a small plastic almost ready to go boat from a local hobby shop (probably) or score an inexpensive one on Ebay (ALWAYS) but try to keep your eyes open… talk with your local hobby shop and watch the ponds on Saturdays and Sundays and you may surprise some of the local sailors and get to see different boats to help you make your choice.

The AMYA website is always a good read, and will give you more information than you are interested in reading in a night.
You can go from a $150.00 plastic ready to go to $6,000 work of art (guaranteed to get a frown from the significant other) even though it would look so wonderful in the family room proudly displayed on a nice wooden stand. Hehehe… have fun with it, I hope you find one you like and give it a try, as it is a wondefully relaxing hobby filled with great people and good times, and something (truly) your whole family can come to enjoy… also leads into physics, Science Fair projects and numerous other educational applications… all of which come in handy when dealing the finance committee.[:-angel]

We get asked this question a lot at the Central Park Boat Pond in New York. For adults we suggest that you try to find the type of boat being sailed locally, but for kids under 12, we recommend one of the under $150 virtually ready to sail boats. Most 6 year olds don’t have the attention span to get into sailing and they also get disapponted when they realize that boat speed is limited by the wind. In New York City you can find the Megatech Nirvanna for under $150 with a radio so we now have over 20 of them at the pond. But other boats in that price range should also be fine. The rudder control only Nikko sailboat is probably not a good idea.

I have attempted to let my 5 year old son steer my boat a few times this summer on the pond. It did not work out well. He was excited to try and loves to watch me sail the boat, but his eye/thumb coordination was not what it needed to be. He did not have the spatial preception to know which way to turn the stick when the boat was coming at him versus sailing away from him. He got really frustrated. He wanted to sail, but was justnot ready.

On the other hand, I am going to sign him up for sailing school next summer. I used to teach sailing school for 6 through 9 year olds and they are capable of learning how to sail full size boats at that age. Being on the boat resolves all the spatial preception issues. Having the tiller in your hand certainly makes it easier to figure out what to do. We usually started off with 2 kids per boat (one for the sail and one to steer). After a few weeks they could go out alone. We taught in El Toros which are basically just marconi rigged Optimists. So, you might want to look around and see if there is a sailing school that your 6 year old could attend. They’ll have an easier time learning and a lot more fun too… Usually the school provides the boats as well…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

Remember too… that you almost never really buy a sailboat… you only put down a deposit on it… Depending on the boat you usually recover most of your money back when you sell it. I was building Hobies in the early 80’s and they had a 3 year program… the dealer would BUY BACK your boat for up to THREE years for the <u>same price </u>you paid for it… assuming that it was in reasonable condition. They were in that much demand, and they held their value that well.

So when it is time to move up to a different style or size, you have a head start.