Youth sailors aged 8-18 traveled from around the world to compete in one of the world’s largest dinghy regattas at the Coral Reef Yacht Club on Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove, Florida. Despite the soggy forecast, the 68th Annual Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta was packed with 689 competitors from 27 states and 23 countries; the participant who traveled furthest represented the Czech Republic. Henry Chau, Chairman of the Orange Bowl Regatta, shared that for the first time they had to cap the number of entries since this event has gained so much interest.
The four-day sailing event held December 27-30 featured Optimists, Lasers (Full, Radial and 4.7) and Club 420 vessels. The platinum sponsors included the Orange Bowl Committee, McLaughlin, Sperry Top-Sider, and KO Sailing. In the future, Chau claims they will change the sponsorship levels to help increase support of youth sailing. “This nonprofit event is run by over 200 volunteers completing tasks on and off the water with parents driving the efforts, which sustains the fun, family environment,” adds Chau. With the nearly 700 sailors, 200 volunteers, and friends and siblings present, over 1,000 people attended each day. “Besides the excitement of the regatta, more than half of the sailors and their families come from outside of South Florida and spend an average of 5-6 nights here, which helps support the local economy in the form of hotel nights, food, transportation, and retail sales,” he adds.