Nine participants from the MICKYS (Marco Island City Kids Youth Sailing) program had the chance to show their skills in the MICKYS Regatta held Saturday at the Marco Island Yacht Club.
Due to unfavorable wind conditions, the original regatta course was changed prior to the start of the first heat. There was concerned that the wind direction was not favorable to allow the competitors to complete the course as originally laid out. Even with the course change the young sailors had to battle unfavorable wind the entire competition.
The regatta consisted of two qualifying heats. The top three finishers from each heat would compete in the finals.
Participants in the first heat were Mathew Benito, John Martin, Morgan Dulski, and Kevin Benito. All four competitors had a hard time catching adequate wind. However, Martin was the first sailor to reach the first marker. Once Martin navigated around the marker he was in position to capitalize on ideal wind conditions. Now with favorable wind, Martin sailed to an easy victory in the first heat. He was the only participant to complete the course.
The other contestants were unable to catch adequate wind and failed to complete the trials. The finishing order of the first heat was determined by the position of the other sailors as Martin crossed the finish line. The top three finishers for the first heat were John Martin, Kevin Benito, and Mathew Benito.
The organizers once again changed the race course before the start of the second heat in hopes of improving the racing competition. The competitors for the second heat were towed by a pontoon boat to a new start location.
Participants in the second heat were Colin Brown, Cory Snyder, Tara Snyder, Elliot Totten, and Nick Dobosh. Once the whistle was blown to start the race, the competitors again had to battle unfavorable wind. After a very competitive race Snyder was able to out sail the field and win the heat. The top three finishers for the second heat were Tara Snyder, Nick Dobosh, and Colin Brown.
The final race consisted of John Martin, Kevin Benito, Mathew Benito, Tara Snyder, Nick Dobosh and Colin Brown. The six contestants were towed to the start location by the pontoon boat. The race had to be stopped before completion because the sailors were getting too close to the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge due to the strong winds. The finishing order was determined by position when the race was stopped. The finishing order of the finals was John Martin, Tara Snyder, and Colin Brown.
The idea for the MICKYS program was a cooperative effort by Don Mills, Dean Heard, Fred Sheen and Dave Besuden. The idea was presented to Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department Director Dana Souza who agreed the sailing program would be a good addition to the Department. The program is in its third year and has had approximately 250 children participate. Blaine Davis was also instrumental in the formation of the MICKYS program. Blaine’s brother Captain Ben Davis is the current instructor for the program.
Captain Ben has 42 years of sailing experience and currently serves as Captain aboard the Sanibel Princess. Captain Ben holds a Masters Captain’s license with a sailing endorsement and is excited to share his experience with MICKYS students.
Presently the MICKYS program uses optimist sailboats. The optimist is a small, single-crew sailing dinghy used to train children.
Currently the MICKYS program consist of three levels of training: Level I, beginners; level II, intermediate; and level III, advanced.
Each course requires 15 hours to complete. The optimist training program is designed for children 9 to 15 years old. One course is taught per week.
Contact Mackle Park (642-0575) for details.
Captain Ben and the Marco Island Parks and Recreation say they have big plans for the MICKYS program. Captain Ben said the MICKYS program is in the process of purchasing up to six 420-class dinghy sailboats. The 420 is a training sailboat designed for a crew of two. It is extensively sailed by high schools and college sailing teams.
Captain Ben’s vision is to eventually offer 420 classes to graduates of the optimist sailing program as well as adults interested in learning sailing techniques. He would like to see sailing teams from Marco Island compete in sailing events locally, regionally and nationally. He hopes to one day have a sailing program on Marco Island producing individuals capable of competing collegially and possibly in the Olympics.
Captain Ben hopes to one day build and maintain a sailing center on Marco Island.
The pontoon boat used to position the competitors was loaned to the MICKYS program by Marco River Marina for the regatta. The boat was captained by Captain John Harkless from Saboutime Sailing, LLC. Will McLean assisted Harkless. McLean will leave to attend the Maine Maritime Academy.
Marco Island Parks and Recreation Supervisor Mindy Matusiak was also a very valuable to the success of the MICKYS program.
MICKYS is grateful for the continued support of the Marco Island Yacht Club, Rose’s Marco River Marina, the Sailing Association of Marco Island, West Marine, and Cedar Bay Marina.