While most kids look forward to the gifts left under the Christmas Tree or Chanukah Bush, youth sailors would prefer a trip to Miami, Florida for the Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta.
This year, the event, with registration on December 26 and racing from the 27th to the 30th, will attract 533 sailors age eight to eighteen from 23 states and 22 countries. There will be sailors from seven South and Central American Countries and six European nations. One sailor is even traveling from Israel… a distance of 6,607 miles.
This regatta, part of the Orange Bowl Festival, is almost 40 years old. Its fame has spread all over the world. In some countries, it is better known than the Orange Bowl football game. The registration list includes 74 420s (a double-handed boat) with 148 sailors, 139 Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.2 sailors and 246 Optimist Dinghy sailors (including the beginner Green Fleet Opti skippers).
There will be a total of 459 boats. When you add the Race Committee boats (supplied by the Main Host, Coconut Grove’s Coral Reef Yacht Club, assisted by Lauderdale Yacht Club) and the many coach boats, Biscayne Bay will be almost completely covered with boats. More than 130 adults volunteer to assist with the regatta.
Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and the US Sailing Center also assist by providing dry storage for the boats and hospitality for the sailors. The regatta is preceded by a clinic December 19-22 for Optis and 420s. One of the special evening events is College Night with 35 college sailing coaches.
Local sailors expect to show their 'knowledge' of Biscayne Bay. Several have their fingers crossed that the dolphins that frolicked on the 420 course last year show up again. They gave the term 'Miami Dolphins' a new meaning!