Youth sailing: National dinghy sailing championship off Marco's shores

More than 240 young sailors will sail in the Gulf waters this weekend in the United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) Southeast Championship.

Races will begin each Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings behind the Marco Island Marriott Resort, and are hosted by the Naples Community Sailing Center.

"We are expecting more than 240 of the top youth sailors in the country, said Lisa Page, one of the event coordinators.

Sailors will be between the ages of 9 and 15. Page said that about 100 of the entrants will be from all over Florida, while the remainder will be from the Northeast and a big contingent from California.

The sailors will complete several races each day. An awards ceremony will be Monday afternoon at the Marriott.

Top finishers from this event will be invited to represent the United States at several international, invitation-only events.

The Naples Community Sailing Center is a nonprofit organization that provides several programs for youth sailors ranging from basic Learn to Sail through Advanced Racing.

NCSC has two youth racing teams. Green Fleet is comprised of beginning sailors who compete at events throughout Florida. The advanced racing team from NCSC is made up of experience sailors who attend regattas throughout Florida as well as other parts of the Green Fleet will have an entry in this event.

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