A spectacular spring day with sunny skies, a 10-15 knot southeasterly breeze, and the beautiful Indian River Lagoon provided a perfect setting for the 6th Annual Steve Martin Memorial Regatta. A record 62 sailboats from seven sailing clubs converged on Vero Beach for the largest sailboat regatta in its 100-year history – a fitting tribute to the late Steve Martin, a dedicated instructor and supporter of Youth Sailing Foundation, who exemplified the quintessential sailor with decades of sailing experience. The morning was full of energy and excitement as 83 sailors rigged their boats and prepared for launch.
The fleet was evenly split, with 31 boats sailing a long course on the east side of the lagoon, just south of the 17th Bridge, while 31 Opti’s sailed a triangle course close to the western shore in front 100 spectators, who were treated to a panoramic view the racing. Vero Beach Mayor Val Zudans and Council Members Laura Moss and Tony Young joined in the festivities along the waterfront of what is now known as Centennial Place.
YSF’s own Vero Beach Varsity Sailing Team, sailing six brand new 420’s which had just arrived a couple days prior, had a ‘clean sweep’ fleet finish, taking 1st through 6th place out of 21 boats – a successful maiden voyage! Brendan Williams and crew Sarah Eliason won top honors, Mylee Smith and crew Kate Bounassi came in second, and Nita Holloway and crew Cate Lovelady sailed to a third place finish. Rounding out the six-boat team were Karis Gaponiuk and crew Jacob Gingras in fourth, JohnMark Gaponiuk and crew Julia Dribben in fifth, and Sydney Ohs and crew Julia Ryan in sixth. This incredible performance was made possible not just through the generosity of the donors who provided the new boats, but also a staff of instructors and volunteers invested in working with these teens, and the tremendous discipline and dedication of the young sailors who raced to a great win.
Peik Sander, also a member of YSF’s Varsity team, made the podium with a third place finish in the Open Bic class, and YSF Shelby Racing Team member Peter Swanson beat 21 other boats to take first place in the Opti Silver fleet.
Staging a regatta with 62 sailboats and 83 sailors requires a great deal of planning and coordination. Safety is always the number one concern, consequently each course was supervised by 3 safety boats plus the race committee boat, all manned by experienced and qualified YSF volunteers. The Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast cooked and served over 200 hamburgers and hotdogs to hungry competitors and parents. Dozens of YSF volunteers pitched in with advance preparations and race-day activities. The launch, races, and return came off like clockwork, with all the young sailors demonstrating admirable sailing skills and seamanship. The scoring team, some afloat and some ashore on computers, had final results certified and posted within a few minutes of the 6th and final race.
The exciting event wrapped up with a late afternoon awards ceremony. All in all it was a great day, and a job well done by all involved.
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.