The Junior Shipmate Program kicked off its eighth season in Marina del Rey Saturday, April 19th.

The program pairs Special Olympic athletes with able-bodied children and teaches them how to sail.

Del Rey Yacht Club hosted the kick-off event for Junior Shipmate, and UCLA, Del Rey Yacht Club members and friends are providing boats during the sailing season.

With the cooperation of UCLA, the youths begin sailing in the program on Capri 14.2 boats and finish on Catalina 38 boats.

The children enjoyed “fair winds” at Marina del Rey during the kick-off event, which consisted of rigging the boats and instruction by UCLA certified instructors on the basics of sailing, said Sherry Barone of the Junior Shipmate Program.