YSF hosts Interscholastic regatta in Vero for first time


For the first time, the Youth Sailing Foundation hosted an interscholastic regatta Feb. 29 in Vero Beach, bringing in sailors from around the state.

The South Atlantic Interscholastic Sailing Association’s South Points Regatta saw more than 250 sailors along with their parents, officials said. The sailors represent 19 high schools and sailing clubs across Florida.

The boat race is the next-to-last stop on the seven-regatta circuit. The host of the interscholastic regatta, the Youth Sailing Foundation or YSF, is a local nonprofit that teaches kids to sail free of charge and provides all the boats, equipment and instruction needed to compete.

“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,” YSF officials said in a statement. “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.”

Even though YSF is hosting the interscholastic regatta for the first time, the organization has participated in the series for the past few years, officials said. For many sailors, it was their first time visiting Vero Beach, experiencing the waters of the Indian River Lagoon and flocking to the city’s hotels and restaurants.

The weather conditions were fair as sailors, in teams of four, raced up and down the lagoon from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. officials said. The teams shared a single boat, sailing two at a time, as they competed in the junior varsity and varsity races.

Tents, picnic tables and barbecues lined the waterfront as more than 175 spectators gathered to watch the sailors dominate the waterway. Off-crews relaxed with their coaches and families in a festive atmosphere, officials said.

Ransom Everglades School of Coconut Grove placed top honors in both varsity and junior varsity fleets. Officials said the 107-year-old school – with 1,100 students in sixth through 12th grades – is an enduring 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 best personal finishes, officials said.

Junior varsity captains John Mark Gaponiuk, Shae Riley and Thomas Kennedy teamed up with crew members Simon Trax, Sarah Eliason and Luke Franco to place 5th, 8th and 10th in a 16-boat fleet.

Planning and strategy helped the major event to run smoothly, sailing officials said.

“Dozens more YSF volunteers worked on preparations and helped with race-day activities ashore,” officials said. “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.”

For more information on YSF programs or to make a donation, call 772-492-3243 or visit the organization’s website.

Photos provided by Youth Sailing Foundation of IRC


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