Founded in 2009 by Charlie & Chris Pope and Varoujan "Pops" Karentz, Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization offering free sailing instruction to the children of Indian River County. We believe sailing is an adventure for a lifetime. While learning to sail children learn life skills that will endure. Sailing challenges and builds confidence by taking children outdoors, out of their comfort zone, and into a world of wind and water. They learn to rig and pilot their own sailboat on the beautiful Indian River Lagoon in Vero Beach. YSF’s success is measured in the competence, discipline, responsibility and leadership skills that blossom in our students. All of this is available to adults who join our rapidly growing adult instruction in larger sailboats. We have over fifty volunteers, and on average eighty-five students participate during the school year.

We are entirely funded through the generosity and support of local individuals, businesses and foundations. We have grown from a handful of 8 foot Opti prams to a fleet of over sixty sailboats and ten chase and safety boats. We have specially configured pontoon boat that serves as a combination on-water classroom and parent viewing stand.

A Day In the Life


For a fully keyboard-accessible alternative to this video, view it in Chrome or on any Android or iOS device, view it in Firefox with the YouTube ALL HTML5 add-on installed, or disable Flash in Internet Explorer.

Speaker 0: The youth sailing foundation of Indian River County offers kids in this community something that, uh, most of them have never been exposed to.
Speaker 1: Well, I think, uh, Youth Sailing Foundation is an amazing program because it's free for kids in the local community, but they have this tremendous group of volunteers from the community who are all here to share their passion with the students.
Speaker 2: We have children from all walks of life, all sailing together. They're learning ecology. They're learning how to take care of the environment. They're learning water safety. They're learning so many things besides sailing.
Speaker 3: My son, Sam is in this program, he gained confidence in himself. He's happy now.
Speaker 4: Every day I feel more confident. Thanks to this place.
Speaker 5: Once you start going, you wouldn't want to stop.
Speaker 6: We're really trying to change the culture here and have sailing and be a part of an inner girl sport in Indian River Lagoon.
Speaker 7: We have now run approximately 300 children through our program, and that's more than we ever dreamed of. And we have you to thank for that.

Our Programs and Fleet

Kids on Boat

Children 8-18 learn to sail using our fleet of thirty-one Opti 8 foot single person prams, 19 club 420's and 8 RS Fevas. Certified U.S. Sailing instructors, aided by volunteers teach safety, basic seamanship, rigging and unrigging, launching, sailing maneuvers, rules of the road and sportsmanship. Beginners sail throughout the week along with more experienced sailors who practice several times a week.

High school students sail two-man high performance 12 foot 420’s. The 420 is used nationally in high school and collegiate sailing. YSF has a fleet of 19 420’s impeccably maintained by our volunteers in our own shops. With tuned rigging and new performance sails YSF strives to provide the very best equipment for our young sailors. Our sailors have responded with increasing proficiency and victories in regattas across the state of Florida. We also offer slots to several homeschool students each semester.

We offer adult sailing classes and your assigned instructor works with your schedule. We use our fleet of three Mariners. Classes are a total of 12 hours at a cost of $400. Safety, seamanship, rigging and unrigging, launching, sail handling and maneuvers and teamwork are taught in a relaxed atmosphere. The tuition is used to help fund YSF’s free beginner sailing programs for children. See Adult Sailing page under Sailing for more details and how to enroll.

Summer camp is held starting in June for eight weeks. YSF Summer Camp has become a huge hit in Vero Beach and perennially sold out. Classes are Monday through Friday from 9: AM to 2 PM with lunch included. Children learn to sail in the RS Feva in protected coves off the Indian River Lagoon. There is ample time for swimming and other fun shore side activities. In 2022, we hosted our first Opti Race Camp with Coach Roberto Ayala and plan to repeat this program offering in 2023.


Small Boats in Fleet
  • Thirty-one Opti 8-foot prams
  • Nineteen 420’s 4.2 meter (13′9″) foot-crewed performance sloops
  • 8 RS Fevas
  • Three 19-foot Mariner sloops
  • Three Sunfish
  • Four Lasers
  • One Stur-Dee Cat 14’4″
  • Chase and safety boats:
    • One Carolina skiff
    • Six Boston Whalers
    • One inflatable dinghy