YSF junior sailors Alex Delamater (13), Skyler Dussan (12), and Ashton Evers (13) sailed in the 2022 Optimist National Championship on the famous Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Over two hundred of the best junior sailors from all over the United States competed for the honor of representing the United States on the National Optimist Team. YSF’s racing coach, Roberto Ayala prepared the team with a grueling six-week bootcamp on the Indian River Lagoon. YSF’s Alex Delamater’s score earned him an invitation to the final selection regatta in the Spring of 2023.
The four-day (July 21-24) regatta was sailed in wind conditions that built over the first three days to 25 knots (28 MPH) and then fell away to a light variable breeze on the final day. A total of 12 races were sailed. Heavy air, gusting to 33 knots; combined with a steep chop and a strong river current provided a real test for our young sailors. The Optimist is an eight-foot pram with a large gaff-rigged mainsail. The light-weight boat requires the sailor to constantly trim the sail, helm the rudder, and shift his weight and balance – 90 pounds soaking wet – in order to stay upright and on course. Add to the mix sixty other competitive sailors flying around in close proximity has the makings for some exciting times on the water.
Alex Delamater says it all in the opening paragraph in his essay on National’s: “In one word, Wow! The 2022 Opti Nationals, located in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon is so far the best week of my life. The racing was spectacular, the location was beyond my expectations and overall a fantastic regatta sailing alongside world-class champions.”
Alex speaking for the YSF team: “Thank you so much to everyone that helped me to get to this regatta and reach my goal given the stiff competition. I particularly want to recognize my parents, my coach, and everyone at YSF who made this possible.”
YSF is a non-profit providing free sailing instruction to the children of Indian River County. Founded in 2009 by Charlie Pope, the mission is to use sailing to build character and provide the basic building blocks for a successful life. Sailing requires focus, perseverance and resilience. Success builds confidence and self-esteem allowing the child to achieve their full potential. Alex personifies what can be achieved. The young man is not only a great sailor, but thoughtful and eloquent beyond his years.
Stu Keiller, Executive Director of YSF reflected: “Everyone at YSF is extremely proud of the three boys and Coach Ayala. They competed well against the best sailors in the United States in daunting sailing conditions. Just as importantly, their sportsmanship and maturity under extreme pressure confirms our programs go beyond just sailing to impart lessons and memories that will last lifetime. We thank all our donors and supporters for allowing us to make this happen.”
Congratulations sailors, staff, Roberto, Mary and all of the grunts who made it happen. It is beyond the dream of the founders.