In 1994, the SYS Race Team was formed. Sailors competed locally, regionally, and nationally sailing in Optimist, 420s and Laser sail boats. We currently have over 75 sailors participating in the year round program. In the mid 1990’s we added High School Sailing and currently support teams from Sarasota High School, Riverview, Sarasota Military Academy, Pine View and Manatee High School. High School Sailing allows youths the opportunity to sail on a team and gives them the opportunity to race against teams locally and nationally. In 2007, we added multihulls to the program for our more advanced sailors.
Our sailors and graduates have taken the sport to the next level. Last spring we had an Optimist sailor competing in the Optimist South American Championship in Peru, and in order to qualify for this event he had to finish in the top 15 at the Midwinter Championship which was held in November. In the summer of 2014, two of our Multihull sailors represented the United States at the ISAF Youth Sailing Worlds in Portugal and finished 4th. Another one of our graduates is a competitive ocean racing navigator who also is a US Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot. Our sailors have won national and world championships, been named College All-Americans, competed in the US Olympic Trials and they all learned how to sail here at Sarasota Youth Sailing.
Every child that participates in our programs develops a sense of independence and self esteem, earned by achieving goals; from passing the swimming test and the capsize drill to sailing on their own between two buoys or to the Van Wezel and back by themselves.
Sailing can do amazing things for children, as the following letter from one of our parents demonstrates. This young woman, who suffers from severe nut allergies, was often left out of social activities, such as sleepovers and birthday parties, because people were afraid of her having a life threatening reaction. She grew up with her mom attending all field trips, school parties and even a summer camp. She had to learn/accept early on that being different is hard. Through sailing, she has gained inner strength and confidence. This young woman is no longer defined by her allergy, she is defined by her sailing.