Inexperienced crew leads Scoot across finish line in fastest time
When it came to line honors in last week’s Sail for Hope, Scoot was first – and there was really no second. The 55-foot sloop, which was built at New England Boatworks, finished nearly 30 minutes ahead of the second boat across the line. Despite the margin of victory, Scoot fell victim to the handicap rule – it finished second overall, although the performance daysailer did win its class.
For the second year in a row, Scoot was chartered by a crew from one of the race’s sponsors, the Narragansett Bay Insurance Company. Providing the on-thewater expertise were two experienced local sailors. The crew was led by Julie Bowler of Jamestown, who is the chief underwriting operations and compliance officer for the company.
“We took off at the start and just kept going,” she said. “The wind conditions were perfect for the boat, as opposed to last year.” Scoot finished the 19 1/2-mile race in 2 hours, 18 minutes.
Bowler grew up in West Springfi eld, Mass., and lived in south Boston for 25 years. She got her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Assumption College, and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dallas. Bowler was a doctoral candidate in biomedical ethics at Georgetown University, and got her master’s in business administration from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
For the last 15 years, Bowler has been gathering insurance and regulatory experience. She worked at Blue Cross & Blue Shield and at Bearing Point. It was in the latter job that she spent time working in Egypt on a federally funded project involving the country’s insurance supervisory authority.
“I was working with the insurance department, under the minister of finance, strengthening their insurance regulation,” she said.
Prior to joining Narragansett Bay Insurance Company, Bowler spent five years as the commissioner of insurance for the state of Massachusetts. She is currently a director of three insurance-based boards on the East Coast.
Bowler has been at her current position for three years. Her responsibilities include compliance, strategic operations, and internal audit and governance, After commuting from south Boston to Rhode Island for 18 months, she decided to move closer to her offi ce.
“This company is growing in Rhode Island,” Bowler said, “and it’s committed to Rhode Island. I decided that I needed to move down. I traveled around to different areas and fell in love with Jamestown.”
Bowler is an avid kayaker, but surprisingly, Sail for Hope was only one of a handful of times that she’s been on a sailboat, including last year’s event. Her crew this year included four of her colleagues, who were given the opportunity as a reward for helping the company migrate to a new system this year. Also aboard were Bob Sharky and Tom Whitmore, who provided racing expertise and strategy for the day.
“We take direction well,” Bowler laughed. “We work pretty well as a team.”
Bowler said that her company has been involved for two years as a sponsor for Sail for Hope. The sponsorship is based on the company’s commitment to support charities. This year the event benefitted the Wounded Warriors Project and the American Red Cross armed forces fund. Bowler said that the two charities fit nicely with her company’s corporate philosophy.
“We sell to coastal homeowners. We’re there to help people rebuild in the event that there is a loss. That’s what we dedicate our lives to. These two charities do the same thing. They help people rebuild their lives. So it was a natural affiliation for us.”
Bowler said that the reason for her personal involvement was much the same. “I’ve been very blessed in my life, and the ability to give back and to help people to rebuild their lives is a great thing. It’s a privilege. This is the second year I’ve done this event, and I hope to do it continuously in the future. I think it’s very important.”
Bowler said she had cousins who had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She feels that these wars are different from those in earlier times in that a lot of reservists and members of the National Guard have been called to active duty.
“I would be surprised if somebody didn’t know anybody who was touched by these wars,” she said. “It’s a broader base of people that have been serving.”
While Bowler was slightly disappointed that Scoot missed out on the overall championship by 90 seconds, the fact that her crew won the trophy for donating more money than any other boat was of primary importance to her.
“You don’t have to be a sailor to do that,” she said. “It speaks volumes about the crew that we had. The event is all about charity, and so we were really pleased about winning that award. That meant more to us crossing the finish line first.”