Regatta to feature young sailors from Maine, northeast

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Young sailors will have a chance to show off their skills and compete against their peers from throughout the Northeast next week on Casco Bay.

The USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival Northeast will be held at Bug Light Park July 10-12 and will feature up to 250 sailors between the ages of 6 and 19.

Sponsored by the Northeast Sailing Association in Yarmouth and SailMaine, the event includes junior sailors from local yacht clubs, as well as those from out-of-state.

“This is not an Olympic-track event,” Stephanie Helms, Northeast Sailing Association president, said. “It’s a fun event designed to encourage kids to enjoy the sport of sailing. This is a great event that promotes good sportsmanship and sailing skill.”

Among the local clubs that will have junior sailors participating in the regatta are the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth and the Centerboard Yacht Club in South Portland.

To register for the regatta, Helms said, kids have to be members of the United States Sailing Association. The boats being used are all small, single-sail vessels that are manned by one or two sailors.

While participation in the regatta is not open to the general public, Helms said people are invited to come watch.

“There will be plenty of viewing areas and opportunities to see the boats in action,” she said, including from Bug Light Park, Fort Allen Park in Portland and even from Mackworth Island in Falmouth.

The Junior Olympic Sailing Festival is held every year in various regions around the country, according to Helms. The Maine event rotates between Casco Bay, Boothbay Harbor, Penobscot Bay, near Camden, and Frenchman’s Bay.

Helms called Bug Light Park “a really great venue” to hold the event. “It’s got a great ramp facility, with lots of space and no parking issues.”

Bill Marshall, the junior program director at SailMaine, said the sailing festival is a “big regatta” that essentially functions as the championships in sailing for the northeast.

“It’s a great event for younger kids and gives them a chance to test their skills and meet other kids who do this activity,” he said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Young sailors like these from the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth will be taking part in the USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival Northeast next week on Casco Bay.