Youth Sailing Foundation Veteran’s Day Regatta


Rigged and ready, waiting for launch.

Youth Sailing Foundation marked the 100th Anniversary of the WWI Armistice, along with the Vero Beach Centennial, by hosting the 2nd Annual Veterans Day Regatta at its facility on the grounds of the city’s water treatment plant.  With beautiful weather and favorable conditions, competitors came from as far away as Daytona Beach and Palm Beach, creating the largest gathering of racing sailboats in the history of Vero Beach.   Eight YSF sailors ended the exciting day on the podium, representing three different racing fleets.

As many as six races were run in each of four classes, with 16 C420’s and 13 Open Bic’s sailing a long course south of the 17th Street Bridge, while 27 Opti’s sailed a triangle course just north of the bridge.  About 100 spectators enjoyed a close-up vantage point of the Opti’s maneuvering just off shore, and a panoramic view of the 420’s and Bic’s rounding the marks on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The home team made a great showing, with YSF Skipper Brendan Williams and crew Sean Onorato placing first in the 420 class, and Skipper Nita Holloway and crew Cate Lovelady taking second.  In the Opti Silver Class, brothers Merrit and Thomas Kennedy earned first and second place, respectively, while Nick Crull took third, making it a clean sweep for YSF.   Shae Riley of YSF’s Shelby Racing Team chalked up a strong third place finish in the highly skilled Opti Gold fleet.

L to R: First place winners Sean Onorato and Brendan Williams of Vero Beach with race official Bill Biersach.

Staging a regatta with 56 sailboats and 72 sailors requires a great deal of planning and coordination.  A team of over 25 YSF volunteers worked on advance preparations and helped with race day activities.  Out on the water, a legion of experienced boaters manned the platoon of race committee and chase boats, ensuring the safety of each course.  The on-water scoring team ably transmitted race finishes to their onshore partners, who had computerized final results certified and posted within a few minutes of the final race.  The launch, racing, and recovery all came off like clockwork with all the young sailors demonstrating incredible skill and seamanship.  Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast was on hand to cook and serve almost 300 hamburgers and hotdogs to hungry competitors and parents, and the great day of competitive sailing wrapped up with the awards ceremony on the banks of the beautiful Indian River Lagoon.

Serving approximately 150 children each week, Youth Sailing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit offering free instruction as a means to engage local children who would otherwise have no opportunity to experience the enjoyment and challenge of sailing.  To learn more, volunteer, or make a donation, please call 772-492-3243 or visit

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