MIAMI - Youth sailing programs are becoming more popular, partly because of the O'pen Bic sailboats.
The kid-friendly dinghies are putting more kids on the open waters and in international competitions. The Miami Yacht Club recently sponsored a race in South Florida.
Over 100 sailboats glided on Biscayne Bay near the Venetian Causeway. Young sailors from 16 countries, boys and girls 9 to 15 years old, competed in O'Pen Bic World Cup, guiding their 9-foot open hulled dinghies over the 2-mile course.
Geronimo Nores, 12, is the number one sailor in his age group. The Miami Beach resident was competing in familiar waters, and likes having challengers from around the world sail here.
"I think it's pretty cool," Geronimo said. "You get to see them after sailing, get to talk to them, get to really know them. More than just having a competitor there, it's like going to another country."
Race sponsors say the O'Pen Bic's have energized youth sailing programs everywhere. Each boat costs about $3,000. They're small and light enough for kids to maneuver, like tipping the sail into the water or spinning completely around during competition. Parents say sailing teaches their kids independence.
"They are out there by themselves in the boat and they really have to learn how to quickly react to a situation if something is to occur," said Florencia Barletta.
"You have to make like your own choices when you're sailing, like this guy's going that way so I better tack and cover him so I can get to the buoy before him," said 11-year-old Juan Nores.
The Nores brothers are part of the 40-member U.S. team. Thirteen of the team's members sail with the Miami Yacht Club. The club on Watson Island offers sailing programs all year long, and supplies all the equipment to get the kids started.
For more information about the youth sailing foundation at the Miami Yacht Club, click here.
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