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Coaches and staff

Our Coaches
Committed to the Development and Safety of our Young Sailors
Our US Sailing Certified Coaches and Instructors are experienced sailors with a love of teaching sailing to the next generation. Every Coach and Instructor we hire is prepared to share their diverse experiences in sailing with our program’s youth to engage and motivate them to succeed both on and off the water.

All of our Coaches and Instructors are required to have the following certifications:
  • US Sailing Level 1 Instructor (many have their Level 2s or 3s)
  • Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED
  • SafeSport Training through Team USA
  • Concussion Awareness through the CDC
  • NASBLA Valid in FL
  • FL Department of Children and Families Level 2 Background Screening
Safety is a priority for everyone at the VYBA. Sailors are under constant supervision while on the water by our Coaches and Instructors in powerboats. Every powerboat carries a first aid kit and VHF radio to provide immediate care and contact with the VYBA Director, the Venice Yacht Club Dock Master, and the Venice Marine Patrol. Our Program Director monitors a variety of sources for weather and lightning updates in the area.

VYBA Head Coach James McGirr

Coach James has been a long time sailor and patron of VYBA having grown up through the program until he entered High school. He sailed his high school career with Pine View High School and went on to form the Florida Gulf Coast University Sailing Team. We are very lucky to get him back during his last semester of collage at FGCU and lucky to have his knowledge and talent as head coach and lead on our Club 420 and Venice High School Sailing Teams. 

Senior Coach Zoe Watson

Zoe has been sailing her whole life, learning to sail Optis when she was just 5 years old.  She is a US Sailing Level 2 certified Instructor and is a State Collage of Florida Grraduate. Zoe has been with VYBA for about 9 years as a sailor and coach. She is the lead Green Fleet Race Team Coach, coaches the Home school learn to sail program, and assists the JV Venice High Sailing Team. 

Senior Coach Alyssa Jongsma

Alyssa has been sailing for nine years at VYBA and is now a US Sailing Level 2 Certified coach.  She currently a college student at FGCU and sails on the FGCU collegiate sailing team.  Alyssa coaches the Junior Varsity Venice High Sailing Team.

Coach Abe Reynolds

Abe has been sailing for five years now with VYBA and is on the Venice High School Sailing Team. He has also sailed on the Opti RWB and C420 teams in his past.  Abe has extensive knowledge in the Racing Rules of Sailing and strives to make every sailor have fun.  Abe is a level 2 Sailing Instructor and has worked with VYBA for 3 years.

Coach Emma Watson

Emma has been sailing her whole life growing up on a sailboat and starting her sailing career as a tadpole with the Sarasota Youth Sailing.  She has been sailing with the Venice Youth Boating for about 9 years and sails on the Venice highschool Sailing Team. Emma recently received her level 2 US Sailing Instructor Certification and Coaches the Green Fleet Opti Race Team. 

Coach Erinne Fenton

Erinne started sailing a few years ago and fell in love with the sport. She currently sails on the C420 and vEnice High Sailing Teams but that doesn't stop there. She has sailes optis and lasers, has helped coach the Green Fleet Opti team, and currently holds a level 1 US sailing Instructor Certification

Coach Hudson Regan

Hudson started sailing a few years ago here at VYBA and fell in love with it. He currently sails on the Venice Highschool Sailing Team, the c420 team and the laser team sailing, radial rig. Hudson recently received his level 2 US Sailing Certification and Coaches the Homes school learn to sail program. 

Coach Otto Afanador

Executive Sailing Director

Yvonne Watson

Yvonne has been on the water her whole life growing up on the Cheasapeake Bay and sailing sunfish as a kid. She has a degree in Marine Biology Technology and Business Administration. Upon graduation she stepped aboard the 120' Schooner Liberty Clipper in Boston, MA as cook and worked her way up the ranks to First Mate. She earned her 100 ton Captains Liscence and took command of the 80' Schooner Liberty in Key West, FL were she ran day sails, charters and sunset sails. Yvonne moved her family to the Venice area in 2013 and has been with the VYBA as a parent for 9 years now having three kids in the program, two of which are coaches. She is currently a level 1 certified sailing instructor and working towards her 100 ton Captains Liscence renewal. 

Assistant Coaches

James McCauley

Gabriella Pina

Emilio Mendoza

Our Board of Directors
Committed to the Safe, Efficient and Fun Operations of VYBA

Our Board of Directors is a highly effective group of community leaders, parents and sailors working hard to make sure the VYBA operates effectively and efficiently.

Kim Whiteman  Chair

Stephanie McKee - Vice Chair

Kali Regan - Secretary

Kristine Taylor - Treasurer

Joe Occhino - Finance

Edmund (Ed) B. Campbell, III - Governance

Renee Fenton - Governance

Jay Fahs, Jr. - Operations

Dick Lawson - Operations

Jill Joos - Operations

Sara Gill - Development

Yvonne Watson - Executive Sailing Director

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