Special Olympic athletes sail off James Island

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Dozens of sailing teams from Georgia and the Carolinas will be racing all weekend out of the James Island Yacht Club. The 10th annual Special Olympics Regatta will feature about forty teams this year. Some of them are racing for victory now, while others have even bigger goals ahead this summer.

Regatta organizer, Meta Frasch says they race with the U.S. sailing rules and regulations. "There are protests on the water, so we go through the whole thing," Frasch said.

This weekend features sailing Friday and Saturday starting at 10:30 am and Sunday at 10 am. It also features an opening ceremony Friday night beginning around 7:30 pm. The ceremony will include a torch lighting led by a flotilla of law enforcement boats. Then sailing teams will get after it on the water the rest of the weekend.

"It's just as competitive and just as intense as any other regatta I've been a part of," Unified Sailing Partner, Ellinor Walters said.

"To see the smiles on their faces and hear the whoops and hollers out on the water, them yelling 'Starboard' and getting aggressive; I think that's neat," Frasch said.

Frasch has coached the South Carolina's Special Olympics sailing program since it started in 2005. She has seen the program grow from only three people at their first event in Biloxi, Mississippi.

"Georgia and Mississippi had all these chairs filled, so my goal was to have at least 20 to 30 people filling our chairs from the state of South Carolina and we've reached that goal," Frasch said.

But this weekend, Frasch is also wearing another hat. She is also coach for the Special Olympics Team USA sailing. She and her team are preparing for the upcoming World Games in Los Angeles in July. For the first time, the USA team is coming to the Lowcountry. Teams from Texas, Maryland and Georgia are in town to train with the first ever South Carolina team invited to the World Games.

Kylie MacFarland of Mount Pleasant is a member of Team USA. She's teamed up with College of Charleston student, Ellinor Walters. The two are training for the World Games with one goal in mind.

"Kick some LA butt!" MacFarland said.

Frasch says the regatta and ceremonies are open to anyone who wants to come watch and support these athletes.

You can find out more about the upcoming World Games on the Special Olympics USA website and the 2015 World Summer Games website.

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