This weekend — Nov. 15-16 — Marco Island residents will be treated to a colorful sight in the Gulf directly off the Marco Island beaches thanks to the Marco Island Yacht Club’s Annual Fall Regatta. Up to two dozen sailboats, along with their skippers and crews from South Florida, will converge on Marco Island to compete for sailing awards.
Proceeds from the Regatta will go to the Marco Island Community Sailing Center Youth Sailing Program which promotes interest in sailing on the Island through its education and instruction programs. The MICSC began 12 years ago as a summer program to teach sailing to children between the ages of 8 and 13. It has grown over the years and now provides instruction to more than 100 youth every summer on the beach between the Yacht Club and the Jolley Bridge.
While the lesson fees partially fund the program, the cost of boat and sail repairs and replacements, training materials and scholarships for financially-challenged children come from community donations. In the near future, the MICSC hopes to be able to: add a boat lift; acquire more Laser sailboats to accommodate our advanced sailors; expand our curriculum to include sailing instruction for all ages; and develop a high school sailing team.
Races will start on Saturday and Sunday at approximately 10:30 AM, and will conclude by about 3:30 PM. A series of courses will be established by the race committee (based on existing wind and sea conditions) with mark points identified by large, red inflated buoys accompanied by officials on “mark boats.” The boats will be divided into competitive classes based on type, size, sail configuration, etc. The best venues for Island residents to view the racing will be either on the beach or in any of the condo buildings along the beach.
If wind conditions are as anticipated, boats with spinnaker sails (the large balloon sails of different colors) will be hoisting their spinnakers as they round the mark closest to the beach. This will provide wonderful photo opportunities.
The Marco Island Marriott will be offering special discounted prices for the weekend for community residents to watch the regatta out at the Marriott beach. Specials include: $5 car parking for the day and a BBQ cash sales on the beach during the event. There will also be a “play-by-play” narrative of the races provided by yacht club members at various times on the Marriott beach.
Race events will conclude Sunday evening with an awards dinner at the Marco Island Yacht Club and a silent auction. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from this silent auction will benefit the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, which is operated by a volunteer board of directors in conjunction with the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department
Co-chairs for the event are Yacht Club members Lois Dixon of Marco Island and Des Moines, Iowa, and Yacht Club Sailing Fleet Captain Chuck Downton of Marco Island and Cincinnati, OH.