Perhaps it’s the good-natured competition, or the recognition that funds raised at the event go to a critical need in the community, or another reason that hits close to home for members of the Sequim Bay Yacht Club.
Whatever the reason, local sailors and rowers found a way to raise more than $18,000 last year for a set of races that didn’t happen.
Susan Sorensen, publicity representative for the yacht club’s annual Reach and Row for Hospice, said she was pleasantly shocked at the $18,128 locals raised for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County in 2020, despite having to cancel the sailboat and rowing races with the outbreak of COVID-19.
“I can’t remember at what point we decided not to have it (but) knowing that hospice relies on these funds, I was impressed everyone opened their pockets,” Sorensen said recently.
Club members are hoping for similar generosity when the races return this year for in-person competition and fundraising Sept. 18-19.
The 29th-annual Reach and Row for Hospice sailboat races begin at noon on Saturday, Sept. 18, and conclude at about 4 p.m. Rowing competition starts at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19, and finish by 11 a.m.
“The public is invited to come down to Sequim Bay to watch the races,” Sorensen said.
Those wishing to make a contribution by mail can send their tax-deductible donations to: VHOCC 829 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles WA 98362; write “Reach and Row for Hospice” in the subject line.
For more information about the race, visit sequim bayyacht.club (click on “Hospice Fundraiser tab”) or email Sorensen at email@example.com.
Initially established in 1991 as a sailboat race, Reach and Row in 2018 was expanded to include a 10-kilometer, open water competition in Sequim Bay for anyone with an oar or paddle, including rowers, kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders.
Since its inception, the event has raised $401,202.53 to provide respite care for Volunteer Hospice, allowing family members to get a break from taking care of their loved ones dealing with end-of-life conditions.
That fundraising didn’t take a break in 2020, despite a pause in racing. Sailboat racers gathered $9,740, a quilt raffle drew $1,975, general donations brought in $2,990 and yacht club Commodore Jerry Fine held special fundraisers that totaled $3,248, Sorensen noted.
“I was amazed when we got the total,” she said.
The aging demographics of some of the racers and other club members, she said, might be a contributing factor to the steady source of funds.
“It’s striking close to home for some of us who’ve been here a while, (thinking) ‘This may be something I have to use’,” Sorensen said.
For more about Sequim Bay Yacht Club, visit sequimbayyacht.club.