Youth Sailing Foundation Sails Faster Than The Wind

YouthSailingFoundationLogo THE YOUTH SAILING FOUNDATION OF INDIAN RIVER COUNTY (YSFIRC) is growing exponentially. In the past two months, YSFIRC has had 19 pages of editorial coverage about its mission and sailing programs in various Indian River County magazines.

This article presents a different angle than those: about the time, effort and expense that has enabled YSFIRC to significantly expand its current footprint.

But first, a little background. YSFIRC provides free sailing lessons for children, ages 9-13, in the “Opti” class (The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dingy intended for use by children up to the age of 15.) Over 300 children have gone through this program.

Sailing is a complex sport, demanding self-discipline and alertness, some of the qualities that few schools or activities teach today. It develops a keen understanding of mechanics, hydrodynamics, and aerodynamics. It requires attention, focus and teamwork uncommon to other sports and an understanding of the marine ecosystem and marine life. It involves intense, non-electronic, exercise and physical conditioning.

Moreover, it builds self-confidence. It is one thing to ride a bike, but yet quite another at the age of nine to pilot your own craft.

It builds character, responsibility, respect for the environment, perseverance, trustworthiness, self-esteem and enhances fitness.

According to Scuttlebutt Sailing News (06/05/2013), children learning to sail develop four key qualities. They develop 1) Spatial awareness, an understanding of his/her location and the location of objects in relation to his/her body; 2) a sense of direction, such a calculating distance and identifying landmarks; 3) weather knowledge; and 4) shipshape habits, including rigging, putting things away and keeping them tidy.

George Horak, Commodore of the Miami Sailing Club, who offers summer sailing for children says: “At this point if we have a problem in our Society, it’s because the role models are questionable. At YSFIRC the primary objective is to provide children with superior role models, reflected in its instructors, volunteers and Board Members. YSFIRC wants to develop children into leaders.

Now to how YSFIRC is significantly expanding its footprint along the Indian River Lagoon, thanks largely to the efforts of its Facility Committee, who has spent nearly a year presenting plans and securing regulatory permits.

YSFIRC recently received permission from Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to use the riverside bay under Alma Lee Loy (17 Street) bridge, adjacent to the river for storage of a large portion of its Opti fleet, so students can launch directly into the river. It also secured permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FEDP) and Army Corps of Engineers that allowed it to trim mangroves in the North/South canal.
FDOT also allowed YSFIRC to join the drainage for that bay back to the upstream bay and fill in the drainage trench in its bay. YSFIRC completed the piping and concrete work on the drainage and let the concrete cure for a week. Then it brought in 15 tri-axle truckloads loads of fill (135 yards) in to fill the trench and re-graded the whole bay to a somewhat higher level. That’s a lot of dirt, a lot of equipment and a major improvement to YSFIRC’s facility. Two loads were crushed shell, which was used at the border of the Mangrove areas to eliminate siltation.

Additionally, the FDEP permit gave YSFIRC permission to trim mangroves and achieve a minimum of 40′ for a clear navigable channel (Permit One), in which to build a catwalk (identical to that catwalk on the south canal), 300 feet in length, on which to berth for long periods of time both our chase boat fleet and our keelboat fleet (Permit Two).


Lumber Arriving for 300 foot catwalk

At the water’s edge, adjacent to the existing launch ramp, YSFIRC was permitted to build two additional similar ramps to substantially increase its launching capacity (Permit three). The first of the two ramps may be built next fall or the following spring, but will be situated on the FDOT bridge right of way. To use that land YSFIRC must secure long-term lease from FDOT. That application has been in process for three months and resolution is anticipated in early summer (Lease One).

YSF welcomes and includes children from all walks of life in its free children’s program. It has recently applied for a grant to provide scholarships for eight Vero Beach High School students to join the sailing team who would otherwise not be able to afford it. It also provides scholarships to children for enrollment in the summer camp; once again, who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

YSFIRC is able to afford to do this to a limited degree using the generous contributions of it members and friends in the community. Other than one salaried Executive Assistant, IRCYSF is a total volunteer organization dedicated to the enrichment of its children and to help them become leaders.

YSFIRC is happy to receive in-kind donations as well. One recent donation was a 26’ Shamrock power boat. After some engine repair, and overall cleaning, the Shamrock is being sold to provide funds for building its 300′ dock.
Al at engine

YSFIRC Board member Al Epstein engineering maintenance to the 26′ Shamrock.

Please visit YSFIRC at and check out the last newsletter, Mainsheet, where participants were interviewed about how how the program has enriched their lives.  Or Visit YSFIRC on Facebook.

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