Six of Youth Sailing Foundation’s sailors competed last weekend in the USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival hosted by the US Sailing Center in Martin County on December 1st and 2nd. Over 200 junior sailors, ages 9-14, from across the Eastern United States and the Caribbean gathered in Jensen Beach to compete in Olympic style racing in single handed 8-foot Opti prams. JO Festivals around the country help prepare young competitors for national championships.
In YSF’s first ever trip to a JO event, sailors Nick Crull, Merrit Kennedy, Thomas Kennedy, Ronja Sander, and Peter Swanson competed in the 82-boat Opti Green Fleet, rising to the challenge of maneuvering for the start and racing in a fleet numbering four times what they’re accustomed to. With strong winds and 2- to 3-foot seas, the action was fast and furious in very close quarters. Highlights for YSF included Thomas Kennedy (age 13) rounding the windward mark first with 81 boats in trail, then placing 2nd in the race and 20th overall for the 2-day regatta. Thomas’s brother Merrit (age 11) had a personal best, finishing 7th in a race and 23rd overall. Both sailors are in their first year of racing. Peter Swanson (age 13) has overcome some unique challenges to become one of YSF’s top competitors, and he sailed to a 13th place finish in one race. YSF Sailing Director Mary Morgan enthusiastically reported, “Seeing Peter in the top of the fleet was an unforgettable moment!”
Shae Riley (age 13) competed in the elite Red White & Blue fleet, comprised of 109 top Opti sailors. Taking his sailing to the next level, Shae took on some of the best sailors in the country and acquitted himself very well in races that lasted over an hour.
After two 10-hour days of endurance sailing in challenging and sometimes rainy conditions, these young sailors had smiles on their faces, rightfully taking pride in their accomplishments, having elevated their level of competition and held their own among a vast fleet of top racers.
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 www.ysfirc.org.