Most regattas organized by yacht clubs, sailing associations, and other entities do so with the goal of providing participants with good racing. What defines "good racing" will vary of course, but generally it means the regatta has been scheduled at a time to maximize participation, there is good race management, an offering of attractive trophies, and an after-race social schedule to ensure that participants have fun off the water as well. The final key ingredient is provided of course by Mother Nature, though if all the other elements are in place a regatta can be deemed a success even without her help.
Increasingly, however, regatta organizers in recent years have been looking beyond merely providing a playing field for willing participants and have been seeking ways to make sailing benefit others not on that field. While other sports such as running, golf, and tennis have been doing this for years, recently there has been a marked increase in the number of charity regattas as organizers have recognized that sailors too are a group well-qualified to assist worthy causes while enjoying the activity they love. The more than three dozen Leukemia Cup and dozen or so Hospice Cup regattas scattered throughout the US are examples of nationally-organized regattas of this ilk, but there are countless others among local fleets that have been formed to help raise funds to benefit a variety of causes.
Last weekend's 8th Annual Newport Gold Regatta is an excellent example of an event that has all the elements of success: great competition, good race management, fantastic shoreside venue, (usually) reliable weather, and proceeds to benefit a very worthy cause. By being consistent in providing these features, this event has grown steadily in size and prominence over its history to become the season-opener for sailors in the region around Newport, RI.
"With 80 boats, we didn't have a record turnout again this year, but we're still very pleased to have had such a strong fleet given the uncertain times," said Barry Carroll, president of Carroll Marine, which along with WHJJ Talk Radio 920, was a corporate sponsor for this year's regatta. Racing for the Farr 40, 1D35, Mumm 30, and J/80 classes started last Friday, with two races held in a foggy Narragansett Bay, while the remainder of the PHRF and one-design classes joined in for course racing on Saturday and a penultimate 'Round the Island Race on Sunday. Besides having races run by world-class Principal Race Officer Mike "Grizz" Thompson, participants also enjoyed a gala tent party located at historic Fort Adams adjacent to Sail Newport on Saturday night.
Unlike events that are organized in the conventional manner by yacht clubs, drawing on the volunteer efforts of members, the Newport Gold relies on the efforts of two central organizers: Janice Carroll and Denise Hubbard. Together these two spend countless hours each year soliciting support from two dozen marine and non-marine sponsors, managing vendors, and organizing the dozens of volunteers who come together to create this special event. "Sure it's a lot of work, and each year I think it will get easier, but it's worth it. Not only are we providing an opportunity for sailors to enjoy the unique pleasure of competing here in Newport, but the support we've generated for our charity has been enormous, making all the effort worth while."
The charity supported by the Newport Gold Regatta is the Rhode Island Foundation for Children, a local group that has a variety of programs that address hunger, abuse, and illiteracy problems in children. Since the first regatta was held in 1995, Newport Gold has raised over $350,000 to assist the Foundation, with nearly $40,000 raised this year alone. Funding is raised from a variety of sources including entry fees, additional contributions made by the competitors, the raffle of an all-inclusive vacation at the Bitter End Yacht Club, and an auction of a custom artistic rendering of the highest bidder's yacht done by graphic artist Nancy Isherwood. Support is also provided through five levels of sponsorship from 26 local marine and non-marine companies and foundations. Even the media gets involved. Seahorse Magazine donated the Seahorse Perpetual Trophy, which is awarded for the best overall corrected time victory in Sunday's 'Round the Island Race.
Support for charities not only contributes to our innate sense of giving, but can also have positive effects for the community in the future. "Rhode Island is a good place to do business and a good place to live, and together with ongoing support from the local business community we feel we have created an event of which we should all be proud," said Barry Carroll. John Ellis, President and CEO of the Bank of Newport, put it more directly by saying "Because of the generous spirit and dedication of Newport Gold Regatta participants, committee members, and volunteers, children [in this region] can one day be free from hunger, abuse, and illiteracy, which positively affects our community."
Though the region’s children were the real winners at the Newport Gold Regatta this year, on the water the competition had some winners too. Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad took the top honors in the Farr 40 class; Kip Meadows Roxanne won the 1D35 class; Richard Perini (from Sydney, Australia) won the Mumm 30 class aboard Foreign Affair; and Tom Coates of San Francisco won J/105 class on Masquerade. In the J/80 class, Kerry Klinger won on USA-352; Edgar Cato and his crew on the 12-Meter Hissar won PHRF A; Udo Schroff took PHRF B honors on his IMX-40 Amadeus; Barrett Holby won PHRF C on his Quest 30 Wazimo; and John Lavin turned in the best finishes to win PHRF D class on his J/29 Dirty Harry. The Seahorse Perpetual Trophy was won in an unprecedented corrected time tie between two Swans: David Brodsky's Swan 55 Odyssey from Newport and David Ford's Swan 44 Lightwave from Waban, MA. After a delayed start, this 22-mile race featured a beat into a light southwesterly breeze turning into a hair-raising reach and run in a 25-knot northwesterly. The increased breeze helped Edgar Cato's 12-Meter Hissar establish a new course record of two hours, 10 minutes, and 27 seconds, and Barking Mad’s crew members reporting boat speeds of over 18 knots at the finish near the Newport Bridge.
How will the Newport Gold Regatta improve in years to come? "Simply by having more sailors come, sail, and continue to support the event," said Janice Carroll. "We'll continue to rely also on our sponsors and the wonderful efforts from all our volunteers, because it would be impossible to pull this off without their great support." For more information on this year's Newport Gold Regatta log on to www.newportgold.com.
Regattas Raising MoneyThe sailing calendar is flush with charity based regattas held throughout the US and its territories. Here’s a look at some that have been particularly successful:
One of the largest series of charity regattas nationwide is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Volvo Leukemia Cup. Dating back to 1988, this series of events has been responsible for raising serious amounts of money to support the research for cures to these devastating diseases. In the year 2000, participants and organizers at 41 Leukemia Cup events raised $1.8 million, meaning that some $5.3 million had been raised to date through the regattas (http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/regatta/hm_reg).
In 2001, 15 Hospice Regattas were staged nationwide to raise funds and awareness regarding hospice care in those regions. Some 39 hospice care centers around the US benefit from these activities. And the National Hospice Regatta Alliance also stages a national championship regatta for representatives from each regional event. Collectively these activities focus attention on Hospice care and raise money for local hospice centers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Up in Georgian Bay, Ontario, sailors have congregated in the summer for the last three years to stage an event that benefits the Easter Seal Foundation. (Easter Seal regattas have gone on elsewhere for 11 years.) Last year the folks at the Barrie Yacht Club on Lake Simcoe raised $36,500 to assist in the good work of the local chapter of the Easter Seal Foundation (email@example.com).
And the Newport Gold Regatta is not the only charity event in Newport. Last fall the inaugural Sail for Pride Regatta attracted 184 boats and raised $95,534 to benefit charities supporting New York City police and firefighters in the wake of the September 11th tragedies.
There are numerous other events on the calendar as well, including regattas that benefit multiple scleroris, cerebral palsy, the American Cancer Society, and several other worthy causes. If you feel we’ve overlooked your favorite charity regatta, contact us and we’ll add it to our list (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fund Raising and Fun Racing on Tampa Bay by Doran Cushing
National Hospice Regatta by Dan Dickison
A Broader Perspective on Sailing by SailNet
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