2011-04-21 / News

Sail Newport prepares for 10-year anniversary race

By Ken Shane

When Sail Newport originally organized Sail For Pride three weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it was a direct response to the tragic events of that day.

Scott Murray of Newport was one of the event’s founders, along with Mick Harvey of Newport and Brad Read of Middletown.

“Right after 9/11, being in the sailing business,” Murray said, “I came up with the idea of doing a yacht race to raise some money for all of the people who were affected.”

Approximately 180 boats participated in the first race. The money that was raised went to the Widow’s and Children’s Charities, an organization created to the support the families of those who were lost on Sept. 11. The fleet has averaged 70 to 80 boats in subsequent years, but this year Murray is hoping for as many as 150 boats.

“We’re hoping we can get a really big turnout and some major fundraising,” Murray said.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the historic day, Sail Newport has once again organized a Sail For Pride race to take place on Sept. 11. Boats of over 22 feet in length have been invited to sail the race’s 18-mile course, which begins outside of Newport Harbor, takes sailors on a circumnavigation of Conanicut Island and returns to the harbor for the finish.

The first Sail For Pride race was held in October 2001 and the event has been held every year since, albeit under a different name.

“After the first year we changed the name of the event to Sail For Hope,” Murray said. “The idea for that was that ‘Hope’ was the state motto and our idea was to help more local charities.”

To date, more than $800,000 has been raised to support humanitarian causes.

This year the name of the event has been changed back to the original name. “We’ve gone back to Sail For Pride for the 10th anniversary,” Murray said. “This name change will be a one-time deal. It will go back to Sail For Hope moving forward.”

All types of boats are encouraged to enter and there will be a number of classes for handicap as well as one-design vessels. Boats without a Narragansett Bay Performance Handicap Racing Fleet rating will be assigned one for the race. “We try to split the classes up as equitably as possible,” Murray said. “We try to break it up into about 12 to 14 boats per class.”

Murray said that many islanders consider this to be their favorite local race of the year. “We are going to try to get a lot of people who don’t normally race their boats to come and do a sail around the island,” he said. “We encourage them to have their flags up. It’s a beautiful sail. The goal is always to make it a fun event, not a serious competition.”

He added, “The serious competition is getting people to raise money for the charities that we’re supporting.”

Following the race, there will be a fundraising event that will be held at the Newport Shipyard. Race trophies will be presented to the winners and to the top fundraising boats in the event. There will also be a silent auction.

The year’s event will benefit the Rhode Island Red Cross Services to Armed Forces Fund and the Wounded Warriors Project.

“We were discussing what charities we should support this year,” Murray said, “and one of the guys asked who’s been most affected by 9/11.”

“The members of the armed forces and their families have really been the ones who have been affected the most,” he continued. “We figured this is a good way to give back.”

According to Elizabeth Mc- Donald, senior director for Emergency Services for the Rhode Island Red Cross, the Red Cross links members of the armed forces with their families at times of crisis or when babies are born.

“We provide services 24/7 to military folks and provide emergency communications,” she said. “We also help them with their fi- nancial needs when it comes to a crisis.”

She said that over the years Sail for Hope has helped support the Red Cross’ emergency programs.

“We do a great job with our Services to Armed Forces program,” McDonald said. “Not only do we provide emergency communications back and forth, but we meet with our military families before they get deployed and when they come back, and provide information on how they can get in touch with us and how to get financial assistance. I think it’s a really good benefit for us to be working with Sail Newport on this.”

Along with the Red Cross, Sail Newport will be benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.

“The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors,” said Mike Holty, a volunteer with the program. “We have programs designed to help these severely injured people to get their lives back.”

“This year we’re linking up with Sail For Pride,” he added. “I’m happy to be working with the organization. I will be bringing some wounded warriors to sail with the fleet in this event.”

For more information on the event, contact Sail Newport at 846-1983 or visit their website at sailnewport.org.

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