The Opti Camp Introduction to Sailing first started 10 years ago under the Marco Island City Parks & Recreation.
In the past year it became part of the Marco Island Sailing Center. Under either organization the program has not faltered.
The Marco Island Sailing Center Booster Club now has donated two new Carolina Skiffs to be used for coaching and safety while students are on the water.
The skiffs, each with 15-horse-power engines, cost $6,500 each, according to Dean Heard, Booster Club treasurer.
Over the years the city had provided a pontoon for when instructors had to be out on the water.
The pontoon usually used 10 gallons of gas a day. The skiffs use 10 gallons a week, Heard said.
Extremely popular, the eight-week program was always full, with a total of 98 students going through the program this summer. The students work to become certified as a Small Boat Sailor under the United States Sailing Association.
The Opti prams used in the program were donated by Islanders interested in sailing. Each donor's name is on their boat's sail.
The program was operated out of the Rose Marco River Marina and now is at the Marco Island Sailing Center, along the Marco River on grounds just off the Marco Yacht Club.
Rocky Cale, president of the Marco Island Sailing Center sees the program advancing. It did hold an Intermediate Sailing Program part of the summer that once completed allows participants to enter sailing competitions. He looks forward to kids racing at various levels, including Junior Olympic qualifications.