Youth Sailing Foundation doubles professional sailing staff as number of children under instruction soars


Pictured from left to right is Kym Helwig, Jabbo Gordon, Mary Morgan, Roberto Ayala, and Will Monts

Youth Sailing Foundation has doubled its professional sailing staff to accommodate explosive growth that will have over 180 Indian River County children receiving free sailing instruction this Fall.  Three certified instructors have been added to the staff.  A total of six highly trained professional instructors from around the country are onboard at YSF to serve the children of Indian River County.  Programs span the entire spectrum of sailing from basic fundamentals to advanced racing; and from nine-year-old fourth graders to senior citizen adults.  A fleet of 75 sailboats, ranging from 8-foot prams to 19-foot day-sailors, allows the staff to match the appropriate sailboat to each level of sailing expertise. Six sailboats built in Australia are designed for adaptive sailing and used by members of our community who have special needs.

Heading up the staff is Sailing Director Mary Morgan who is starting her fifth year at YSF.  Mary came to YSF immediately after graduating Rutgers University in the summer of 2016.   She was a member of the Rutgers Sailing Team and has an extensive background in junior and senior competitive sailing. Mary instructed and managed summer sailing programs throughout her high school and college years.   Growing up near the historic Riverton Yacht Club on the Delaware River, Mary virtually ‘lived on the water’ has she honed her skills and set course for a career in the sport she loves. In addition to her Sailing Director duties, Mary coaches YSF Varsity Sailing Team.

Assistant Sailing Director, Kym Helwig joined YSF’s staff in January 2017.  Kym lives aboard her cruising sailboat in Vero Beach and has a long and varied career as a recreational sailor and more recently as a professional instructor at YSF. Kym grew up sailing on lakes in Pennsylvania and cruising the Chesapeake Bay during family vacations.  After a career teaching music in elementary and middle school, she is now a fulltime professional sailor instructing special needs sailors in YSF’s Adaptive Sailing Program and teaching big-boat sailing to women aboard her Southern Cross 28’ sailboat.

Assistant Sailing Director Will Monts joined YSF in June 2020 and went to work immediately assisting with YSF’s summer camp. Growing up in Bluffton South Carolina, he learned to sail on Calibogue Sound and went on to instruct sailing at summer camps on Hilton Head Island. Will is a recent graduate of Clemson University majoring in Recreation Management. At YSF Will instructs the Osceola and Gifford Middle School squadrons and coach the JV team.


Assistant Sailing Director Roberto Ayala grew-up in Marina Del Rey California, began racing Opti sailboats at age 10 and continued to progressively higher levels of state, national and international competition. He competes at the international level in Star Class regattas. Roberto became a highly respected instructor and coach at the historic California Yacht Club. Over a six-year span, he built a racing program that sent sailors around the world to compete in regattas.  Roberto will instruct in YSF’s Siebel Sailors Program and assist the Opti and JV programs.

John B. “Jabbo” Gordon joined YSF in 2019 as Senior Instructor for YSF’s adult sailing programs.  Growing-up in Clearwater Florida exposed Jabbo to sailing and began a lifetime love affair with the sport.  A graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in journalism, Jabbo decided newsrooms were too confining and joined the Navy. He spent twenty years in nuclear submarines as a navigator. Jabbo is a US Sailing Instructor Trainer running US Sailing certification courses across the state of Florida while not in Vero Beach teaching adults how to sail at YSF.

Sailing Instructor Julia Butterworth recently moved to Vero Beach. Learning that YSF was the only sailing game in town, she dropped by to see how she could help. Julia managed sailing programs and instructed on the Neuse River, part of Pamlico Sound in North Carolina. St. Edward’s School and YSF has just agreed to start a new program, and Julia stepped up as lead instructor.  Assisted by two of YSF’s high school sailors who are US Sailing Certified Instructors, Julia will be teaching lower school sailors basic sailing skills.  A graduate of the College of Charleston and lifetime sailor, Julia stayed on in Charleston to start a business career working for a firm that provides enterprise software for nonprofits.

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