April 30, 2022 is an important date for many around Essex, Connecticut, a small, picturesque town on the Connecticut River. It marks the return of an – almost – annual event that brings together people from all over Connecticut’s sailing scene. And, it’s for a good cause, to boot.
After a two-year hiatus, this charity regatta on the Connecticut River is back with a vengeance. The Gowrie Group Connecticut River One-Design Regatta is an exciting river race organized under an extraordinary collaboration between five local yacht clubs: Essex, Essex Corinthian, Frostbite, Pettipaug, and Duck Island.
Created several years ago to raise funds for cancer charities, this event brings together one-design fleets from across the Connecticut River Valley and the shores of eastern Long Island Sound. Many participants have been affected either directly or indirectly by cancer, and supporting a charity through their favorite sport is important to them. Sailors create teams to seek donations from their families and friends, and the yacht clubs secure sponsors to maximize the support for the selected charity. The goal for 2022 is to raise $50,000.
Ruth Emblin and Roger Bauman, representing two of the five clubs, Essex Corinthian and Duck Island, respectively, have been supporting local charity regattas for over a decade. Both believe that these events are an important way to let the public know that there is hope for cancer patients thanks to organizations like Sails Up 4 Cancer, the charity the planning committee selected as this year’s beneficiary. Sails Up 4 Cancer is a local charity focused on community-centric support for cancer patients and their families. Founder and CEO Bob Davis is a two-time cancer survivor who wants to give back by helping others.
“My inspiration for supporting the regatta is driven by the loss of my dad, who passed away from Non-Hodgkins’s Lymphoma in 2002,” says Roger Bauman. “Joining Sails Up 4 Cancer to help run the Gowrie Group Connecticut River One-Design Regatta was a natural fit, combining my work in cancer diagnostics, my love of sailing, and remembrance for my father.”
“We want to reach as many people as possible,” says Ruth Emblin. “The regatta participants, of course, but also their families and friends, to spread the message that a cancer diagnosis is no longer automatically a death sentence. For me, family members and close friends who are still among us are proof of that. Research has come a long way, and new treatments are developed daily. However, there is more to cancer care than just medical treatment. Patients need support on all levels, and families often struggle with the fallout of their loved one’s diagnosis. Sails Up 4 Cancer identifies the areas of greatest need in our community and provides support where necessary. We will be involved in the selection process, which motivates us even more to do our best to raise funds this year.”
A charity regatta has many different facets. The races on the Connecticut River are open to any one-design fleet with five or more boats registered. Registration is available at YachtScoring.com. Previous regattas drew upwards of fifty boats, and two race circles on the river, one near the Essex and Essex Corinthian Yacht Clubs and another near Pettipaug, will provide ample space for the fleets to battle for the top honors. Spectators are welcome and encouraged to come down to the Essex riverfront to watch the races. Since the regatta is held on Saturday, April 30 during the CT Spring Boat Show (hosted by Safe Harbor Essex Island April 29 to May 1), there will be plenty of opportunities to get a glimpse of what’s new in the boating industry and check out the action on the river. As in prior years, the CT Spring Boat Show is also making a donation to Sails Up 4 Cancer.
No self-respecting regatta is complete without a great post-race party. The 2022 party will be hosted by Essex Yacht Club and is open to the public. The perfect ending to a day at the boat show and the regatta, the party features live music by Cherry Pie, food and drinks, and a silent auction with many exciting prizes. Ruth Emblin: “We thank Essex Yacht Club and Commodore Carter Gowrie for hosting the party and helping us run this multi-club charity regatta,” says Ruth. “It is really inspiring to know that five local yacht clubs are working together for such a worthy common goal.” Party tickets are on sale for $35 per person ($20 under 21) if purchased in advance.
Event organizers are actively seeking corporate sponsors and hope that local businesses will support the charity regatta. Sponsor benefits range from ads in a virtual program booklet, online logo inclusion on the event pages, to banners and posters displayed at the party. Since the party will feature a silent auction, the organizers hope to encourage businesses to offer auction items. In-kind sponsors will receive donation acknowledgments and marketing benefits as well. There is also an online donation hub for any private donors wishing to make a credit card contribution.