Reach, Row races mark fundraiser’s 30th year

The event that is now a decades-long fundraiser nearing a half-million in funds for hospice respite care actually began as a bit of good-natured one-upsmanship between a couple of seafaring friends.

Recently retired physician Mike Crim recalled that the inspiration behind the Reach for Hospice race was simply a way he and fellow sailor Scott Ogilvie could extend the racing season beyond the end of September.

“This was the late [19]80s, early 1990s; benefit regattas were springing up all over the place,” Crim said in early June, in a room at John Wayne Marina overlooking Sequim Bay.

New to the Sequim area, Crim was working with a number of cancer patients so he knew of the Rose Crumb-led Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County, at the time the only hospice organization on the Olympic Peninsula. November was Hospice Month, and a number of local sailors had family members who received hospice services, and thus, the Reach was born … albeit under auspicious first race day circumstances.

The original course for the inaugural race in 1991 was a 35-40 mile course to Smith Island and back. With winds usually between 10-15 knots, Crim said, most of the few competitors that first year could get it done in daylight hours on the first day and enjoy brunch the next.

However, the Reach for Hospice’s first race was, Crim recalled, “harrowing.” Winds blew from nothing to 35 knots and back to nothing once more, with an-inch-an-hour rain pouring from darkened skies.

Crim’s own boat came in at 2 a.m., which earned his crew first place.

But by race’s end, Crim said, other competitors “looked like drowned rats. We all did. They were so miserable. It was comical.”

Mercifully, the preceding brunch went off without a hitch, he said.

That first year raised $1,700 for Volunteer Hospice, with the stipulation that it be used direct for patient care and no overhead costs, he said.

“We generated a lot of interest that first year,” Crim noted.

And while the date and course has changed since — it’s now in September, and held entirely in the mostly placid confines of Sequim Bay — the event, now dubbed the Reach and Row For Hospice, raises tens of thousands of dollars each year from competitors, yacht club members, local businesses and community members. The event raised a record $31,114 in 2018 and last year’s total of $30,863 was second.

Total funds raised for VHOCC since 1991 is $433,866.45.

“It’s generated a life of its own,” Crim said. “That’s a lot of money for a small yacht club in a small town.”

Susan Sorensen, a Sequim Bay Yacht Club member and an organizer and publicity chair for the annual event, said this is the only fundraiser the club does and it’s one members look forward to eagerly each summer.

“I think some of us realize we might need hospice [at some point],” Sorensen said. “We have seen some of our fellow club members need the services of hospice; it becomes more meaningful.”

Sorensen said that, looking back to when she was taking care of her father who was terminally ill with cancer, she wished she could have used services such as those offered by Volunteer Hospice.

Funds raised go to VHOCC’s respite care, which helps family members get a break from being caregivers to do an errand, go for a walk or have time to be alone, Sorensen said.

“I thought, ‘If I can help one person to not go through what I went through, that is my mission,’” she said.

The race has grown in recent years to reflect the change in the 143-member Sequim Bay Yacht Club itself. The event now includes a rowing competition.

“The complexion of the yacht club has changed, which is great,” Crim said.

Calling it a career

Crim recently retired from a 40-year career in health care, the past three-plus decades were on the Olympic Peninsula.

His original focus was obstetrics when he came to the area, Crim said, but when fellow physician Dr, Keith Senz had to stop working, he sought out Crim to take on his patients.

“I didn’t want practice that focused on geriatrics; quite the opposite,” Crim recalled. But the thought of turning down the opportunity to help Dr. Senz? “I would not be able to look myself in a mirror,” Crim said.

In the late 1990s his practice was bought out by Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Crim went on to work at the Jamestown Family Clinic on North Fifth Avenue for another 20 years before finally retiring.

A Boise, Idaho, native, Crim earned degrees in chemistry and zoology at the University of Idaho and graduated with honors from the University of Washington.

It was in medical school that Crim picked up the sailing bug, and it grew when he came to the peninsula and raced with friends Ogilvie and Kevin Holmberg.

Coincidentally, Crim noted, both of those friends — Ogilvie with leukemia, Holmberg with colon cancer — wound up needing hospice services.

“We didn’t have brothers [and] the three of us always raced together,” Crim said.

This year’s race

The Sequim Bay Yacht Club’s 30th-annual Reach and Row for Hospice race is Sept. 17-18.

Rowing competitions start at 9 a.m. and finish by 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Sailboat races start at about noon and finish at about 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Community members are invited to John Wayne Marina, 2577 W. Sequim Bay Road, to watch the competition from numerous vantage points.

For more about the event, go to; click on the “Hospice Fundraiser” tab.

Those who cannot attend but want to make a contribution to the respite care fund can send their tax-deductible donation to: VHOCC, 829 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles WA 98362, with “Reach and Row for Hospice” in the check’s subject line.

For more information about the event, contact Sorensen at

For more about Sequim Bay Yacht Club, visit

Sailboats gather near the starting line of the Reach for Hospice race on Sequim Bay in September 2021. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Sailboats gather near the starting line of the Reach for Hospice race on Sequim Bay in September 2021. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell