Do a charity regatta – and if you can’t, then try to support one in some way. Unfortunately, because of other commitments in late July, my crew was unable to participate in our favorite regatta of the year. This left us bummed out, but nonetheless cheering from shore. My family has always participated in the Sail Park City Regatta, a fundraiser for St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound run each July by Fayerweather and Black Rock Yacht Clubs and Housatonic Boat Club.

This event is one of the highlights of our sailing season for a number of reasons. Aside from the excitement of competition and great race management led by Lee Henchman from Housatonic Boat Club, we value our time together on the water very much. First and foremost is that this day of sailing is one of only a few where my entire family takes part in making the boat go ‘round. These days when we race, our objective is to blow off some mid-week steam and enjoy spectacular sunsets on Long Island Sound. Bringing home a trophy at the end of the season is, we hope, an added bonus to time well spent with friends and family, so a race day like the Sail Park City Regatta is extra special because we know that everyone else out there has the same mindset.

Another reason that this particular regatta is so special for us is that on more than one occasion we have been the top fundraising boat. Anyone that has participated in an event of this nature understands that topping the race day score sheet is secondary to winning on the fundraising chart. A lot of work goes into fundraising and every penny brought into the many worthy charities is important. We have garnered much pride from being top fundraiser in the past and look forward to achieving that mark again in the future – and stiff competition in this arena is much more intense than on the water.

Third, we usually do very well in our division. We enjoy pulling out the go-fast sails…it’s one of a handful of days each year that we feel is worth the effort. Normally, we race with our cruising sails and accept the fact that we are not going to be up to full potential. And this may seem trivial to some readers, but there is an added sense of purpose when there’s a little more at stake than a weeknight race finish…everyone tries a little harder to ensure the boat scores well.

Fourth, this regatta is a day-long party. My family and friends love a good bash (who doesn’t?), and a memorable post-race party is as important as a square course and top-notch race management. Enjoying good music and dancing, delicious food, the ever-present racecourse revelry and a few frosty beverages are key elements of any regatta, especially a charity event – and at the Sail Park City Regatta this is very much the case. This event boasts a fine awards ceremony, spectacular food and live music to help celebrate all the people who come out to raise their sails for a worthy cause.

Finally and most importantly, the Sail Park City Regatta is close to me and my family because it raises money to support free mammography screenings and other cancer-related efforts of the SWIM Across the Sound programs at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT. Cancer has touched just about every family, as it has mine. No doubt there is a regatta out there that not only piques your interest from a competitive standpoint, but one that touches your heart as well. Check out the WindCheck calendar of events. I am sure you’ll find a regatta that you will connect with in some way, be it close proximity, racing potential or charitable partner. Incidentally, WindCheck has been a proud supporter of this event since its inception.

I guarantee that the thrill of victory, if you are so lucky, will fall short of the accomplishment of making a difference. Getting out on the water with family and friends is rewarding enough – why not have a day’s sail mean a bit more? In the meantime, I will take the opportunity to begin fundraising for next year’s event!

See you on the water…and at the party!

Chris Gill

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