The Youth Sailing Foundation hosted its third annual Veterans Day Regatta on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the city’s water treatment facility just south of the 17th Street Bridge. It was the largest gathering of racing sailboats in the history of Vero Beach.
On a beautiful “chamber of commerce day” with blue skies and a perfect east-northeast breeze, YSF swept the top three places in the Opti Gold class and earned an impressive 2nd place out of 27 in the prestigious Olympic Class 420’s.
With 63 boats representing 11 sailing clubs from as far away as Clearwater and the Upper Keys, the competition was intense with just seconds separating boats as they crossed the finish line. A total of 90 sailors were out on the Indian River Lagoon for two and half hours of racing.
Twenty-seven 420’s and nine Open Skiffs sailed a long course south of the bridge, while 27 Opti’s sailed a shorter triangle course just to its north. About 100 spectators were treated to a close-up view of the Opti’s maneuvering at the start just off shore, along with a beautiful panoramic view of the larger fleet across the lagoon.
YSF’s elite Shelby Racing Team had a clean sweep of the Opti Gold fleet, with Nick Crull taking top honors followed by Peter Swanson and Michael Ladd.
The Olymipic Class 420’s completed five races over the 2-mile triangle course. Race starts were exciting with dozens of boats manuevering in close quarters at high speeds to gain a favorable position on the line and a flying start at the gun. When all the scores were tallied, skipper Adrian Winkelman and crew Nico Tave of the Clearwater Community Sailing Center took first place, followed closely by YSF’s own Mylee Smith and crew Kate Bounassi, who sailed the best regatta of their young careers, leaving 25 boats in their wake.
Staging a regatta of this scope requires a great deal of planning and coordination. With safety paramount, each course had three 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 300 hamburgers and hotdogs to hungry competitors and parents. Well over 25 YSF volunteers prepared for weeks in advance and helped with race-day activities. The launch, racing, and recovery came off like clockwork with all the young sailors demonstrating incredible sailing skills and seamanship. The scoring team had final results certified and posted within a few minutes of the final race.
As the late afternoon awards ceremony concluded, the atmosphere was celebratory as competitors, parents and volunteers all departed with a well-earned sense of accomplishment after a great event on a beautiful day.