Youth Sailing Foundation Brings Interscholastic Regatta to Vero Beach for the 1st Time


Staging area (photo by Pat Harris)

Youth Sailing Foundation (YSF) hosted the South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association’s South Points #6 regatta on Saturday, February 29.  Over 250 sailors and parents, representing 19 high schools and sailing clubs from around the state, came to Vero Beach for the event, the penultimate stop on the seven-regatta circuit.   While YSF has been participating in the annual SAISA series for the past few years, this was the first time playing host.  For many of the participants it was their very first visit to Vero Beach, and most made a weekend of it, availing themselves of Vero’s hotels, restaurants and other amenities.

Favorable weather conditions prevailed as 116 sailors competed from 10am to 5pm, racing C-420 dinghies in a total of seven varsity and eight junior varsity races. Each team of four shared a single boat, sailing two-at-a-time and alternating crews after every two races.

Ashore, the off-crews relaxed with their coaches and families in a festive atmosphere.  Their colorful uniforms and obvious enthusiasm for racing added to the carnival atmosphere of the day. The waterfront was lined with tents, picnic tables and barbecues as over 175 spectators enjoyed the racing and the spectacular weather.

Ransom Everglades School of Coconut Grove took top honors in both varsity and junior varsity fleets.  The 107-year old school with 1100 students in grades 6-12 is a perennial powerhouse in Florida interscholastic sailboat racing.

Vero Beach Varsity Sailors Sydney Ohs and Catherine Lovelady tag teamed with Mylee Smith and Katherine Bounassi, recording some of their personal best finishes while proudly representing the host YSF.  Junior Varsity Skippers, JohnMark Gaponiuk, Shae Riley and Thomas Kennedy teamed up with crew members Simon Trax, Sarah Eliason, and Luke Franco to place 5th, 8th and 10th, respectively, in a 16-boat fleet.

Staging a regatta of this size and importance requires a great deal of planning and coordination, and the alternating of crews after every two races adds a layer of complexity.  Fourteen experienced and qualified YSF volunteers manned three safety boats and two race committee boats, keeping close watch and maintaining safety and security at all times.  Dozens more YSF volunteers worked on preparations and helped with race-day activities ashore.   The launch, racing, and recovery came off like clockwork with all the young sailors demonstrating incredible sailing skills and seamanship.  The ship-to-shore scoring team had final results certified and posted within a few minutes of every race.

Unlike the visiting teams from long-established schools and yacht clubs, Youth Sailing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which teaches local kids to sail free of charge and provides all the boats, equipment and instruction necessary to compete.  YSF team fees are but a small fraction of the typical cost to participate in sailing, enabling a broader range of children from varied backgrounds and circumstances to experience and be empowered by the challenges and joys of sailing. For more information on YSF programs or to make a donation, visit or call 772-492-3243.


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