Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization funded solely by donations. Our free sailing lessons are open to Indian River County children, age 9 to 14, who can pass a swimming test. High school students are invited to participate in our newly founded Vero Beach High School Sailing Club. YSF also offers adult sailing lessons.
Why sailing? Sailing is the vehicle we use to teach children much more than sailing. Our program takes children outdoors, away from computers and cell phones while providing the physical activity so lacking today. Our children grow in confidence when learning to rig and pilot their own sailboat, complete races, understand the sailing language, and interact not only with children but with adults. YSF’s success is measured in the self-confidence, discipline, decision making, and so many other skills that become evident in our students.
Our progress and growth since our 2009 beginning is the result of the generosity of the community in both monetary gifts and volunteer hours. Partnerships with the Vero Beach City Marina, and members of both the Vero Beach Power Squadron, and the Moorings Yacht Club have given us the impetus to expand and create the type of programs we desire to offer to the community. We have built a total of 33 wooden Optimist sailboats, 24 of which were donated to be used by children who cannot afford their own sailboats. The Vero Beach High School Sailing Club uses our fourteen Club 420 two-person sailboats. We own 5 twelve-foot Trinka sailboats and 4 nineteen-foot O’Day Mariner sailboats which are used both for the adult and the children’s classes. We also have numerous power boats that are used as safety boats while the students are sailing.
Our program has many facets:
1. Free children’s beginning sailing instruction by certified US Sailing Instructors both in the classroom and on the water is provided on Saturdays during the school year. Eight-foot long Optimist sailboats are used for beginning sailors between the ages of 9 & 14. Our beginning sailors sail on Saturday mornings and our more advanced sailors sail on Saturday afternoons.
2. In September of 2014 Youth Sailing Foundation collaborated with Vero Beach High School to form a high school sailing club. Vero Beach High School students are learning to sail our Club 420 two-person sailboats. These boats are used nationally in high school and college competition. The high school club practices on Wednesdays and Fridays after school. In February 2015 the Vero Beach High School Club sailors competed in a sanctioned ISSA (Interscholastic Sailing Association) regional regatta and as a result, 8 club members received Vero Beach High School Varsity letters. Our goal is to expand this program to include other Indian River County high schools such as Vero Beach Charter High School, Sebastian High School and St. Ed’s High School.
3. In the spring of 2014 Youth Sailing Foundation tested an Adult Sailing pilot program. Adults paid $400.00 for eight 3-hour beginning sailing lessons combining on-the-water and classroom training. The adult students sailed YSF’s 12-foot long Trinka sailboats and the ratio of students to instructors was very low. This program was so popular that it became a permanent part of our curriculum in the fall of 2014. Now we offer beginning and intermediate sailing to Adults. Classes are on Thursdays and Saturdays. The tuition collected from Adult Sailing is being used to fund our free children’s sailing lessons.
4. YSF’s Summer Sailing Camp is held at the Moorings Yacht & Country Club each summer. In 2015 YSF will offer 8 one-week long beginning sailing camps for children between the ages of 8 and 13. Camp hours are 9 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday. Children learn to sail 8-foot long Optimist sailboats. The fee to participate in one week of camp is $250.00 which includes lunch each day.
5. For those who like wood working, YSF offers the opportunity to assemble an eight foot wooden Optimist sailboat from a kit. Parents and children are closely supervised and assisted by trained YSF volunteers. The kit costs $1700.00 complete. It takes approximately 40 hours to assemble the Optimist sailboat.