Photo courtesy of Katie Gonzalez. Front row from left: Caroline Post; Will Edmiston, who finished second; Nicholas Colotta, who took first; Sophie Cameron; and Kaitlin Post, who came in third.

By Ray Dupuis

After a summer of sailing lessons, 16 excited and anxious youngsters ages 7 to 14 were ready for a challenge, the Joey Meyer Memorial Youth Sailing Championship Regatta on August 10.

The racers were among 120 youngsters who participated in Youth Sailing classes at TSS over the summer, which hosts young sailors ages 7 to 17.

The regatta, held for many years, is in honor of Joey Meyer, who died in an accident in 2001. He grew up sailing out of Tampa Sailing Squadron with his parents, Bob and Doris Meyer of Valrico.

Each sailor had his or her own boat, either an Optimist Pram or a Sunfish. The race course had minor changes for each division due to experience levels and wind conditions. Safety boats operated by the sailing instruction crew assured all sailors remained safe.

In the Sunfish Fleet A event, Thomas Schuerger, 14, of Viera, on the Space Coast, captured first in all three races, followed closely by Adam Maysles, 13, of Apollo Beach. Those two sailors finished only one second apart in the second of the three races.

Thomas said, “My competitors were very welcoming. I had a great time. Everyone putting on the race did a great job. It was a fun atmosphere. I hope to come back next year.”

Five less experienced sailors competed in the Pram Fleet. The course was shortened for the smaller boats with the least experienced sailors.

Nicolas Colotta, 9, of Apollo Beach, took a first place trophy in the Pram races and Will Edmiston, 9, of Valrico, took second place. Five youngsters competed in Sunfish Fleet B, the intermediate class.

Mason Jones, 12, of Apollo Beach, took first place with John Heaps, 14, of Valrico, finishing second. Mason began attending Youth Sailing camp when he was 7. Mason said it was his first regatta and it was “really fun.”

Of the 16 competitors, four were girls. Three competed in the Pram class for beginners. Maddie Ahlgren, 12, who has attended sailing camp since age 7, competed in the advanced division—Sunfish Fleet A.

TSS Youth Sailing instructors are certified by U.S. Sailing, the national authority. Instructors and assistants are also certified in CPR, First Aid and boating safety. For more information about Tampa Sailing Squadron’s Youth Sailing program, call 642-4035 or visit www.tssyouthsailing.org.