Yacht clubs support multiple causes

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — About four dozen yacht clubs call Southern California home, each one with its own unique personality. One characteristic several yacht clubs share, however, is a sense of giving. The Log reached out to and researched the charitable and community services activities of Southern California’s yacht clubs and found many of them are actively involved in promoting youth sailing or encouraging people who have never been on the water before to experience recreational boating. Some clubs make financial contributions to local hospitals or medical causes while others host dinners for active military members. While the nature of contributions vary one thing is for certain: many individuals and organizations benefit from donations, be it financial or otherwise, spearheaded by local yacht clubs.

Below is a comprehensive look at how yacht clubs (and a few other organizations) give back to the community.

Spreading the Wealth

Several yacht clubs support multiple causes. Ventura Yacht Club, for instance, volunteered its RC boat last month to assist with an annual sailing event to raise money for caregivers. The club also provided funds and support to other events and causes in the Ventura area.

“We hold beach cleanups several times each year. We have food drives during the holidays. We provide our clubhouse free of charge for Ventura Power Squadron classes. Club members provided their boats to take wounded veterans for a day sail,” said Stan Whisenhunt, one of the club’s directors. “We contribute $500 annually to the Ventura Port District to support the annual Parade of Lights [and] … provide sailing classes for youths during the summer, most of which are children of non-members. We sent a team to do work on a house for Habitat [for Humanity].”

Ventura YC Commodore Sue Van Gemert added the club provides up to 10 scholarships to local children for a 10-week summer sailing camp held annually.

“We make individual grants to sailors to participate in important regattas around the world,” she said, adding the club also participates in food drives and Toys for Tots events.
“We support a number of maritime issues and causes by asking our members to contribute and attend events in the boating community.” 

King Harbor YC partnered with Redondo Beach YC and Port Royal YC for a charity fundraiser on Nov. 8 to support King Harbor Boat Parade Charities and the youth foundation.

“The Holiday Boat Parade is a fun event for families. It is open to the public with all the funds collected donated to charity,” said Debbie Helling, commodore of King Harbor YC. “The Grand Marshal selects a charity and the committee selects two additional charities.”

Promoting Youth

Silver Gate YC hosts San Diego’s Make-A-Wish chapter annually, providing them with a venue to host a silent auction. The most recent fundraiser brought $243,000 to the Make-A-Wish chapter. Also hosted by Silver Gate YC was the Schooner Cup, which raised $23,000 for the Navy Release Fund, and the Wheelchair Regatta, where anyone with a wheelchair can participate and take a two-hour boat ride on the water.

King Harbor YC supports children and teens learning on and living by the water through the nonprofit King Harbor Youth Foundation. One of the main youth sailing programs offered by the foundation is New Channels.

“New Channels … was developed as an avenue to get individuals on the water that would not otherwise have the opportunity. This outreach has provided opportunities for many people who have not seen or enjoyed ocean activities,” Helling said.

A similar youth sailing program is offered in Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach Sailing Foundation (HBSF), which is supported by Huntington Harbour YC, recently launched its first capital fundraising campaign to replace its youth fleet with new boats.

“The campaign’s goals are to replace the entire 40-year-old fleet of sabot sailboats and to establish an endowment fund to allow us to continue to provide free summer sailing lessons for disadvantaged children,” a campaign letter on the foundation’s website read. “All of the money raised will go directly to this program with an objective of raising at least $150,000.”

McLaughlin Boat Works in Tennessee provided the foundation with 16 new Optimist Cube beginner sailboats in April to help launch the foundation’s 2015 sailing summer program. The boats were purchased at cost ($36,500) with money raised from the foundation’s capital campaign.

“Our purpose is to expose children to an experience most never get — a chance to learn to sail. The HBSF sailing program is directed primarily toward children from the general public and from families not involved in sailing. We provide students with a sabot since the cost of purchasing one would otherwise prevent or deter most parents from considering sailing lessons for their child. An overwhelming percentage of our students are the first in their family to ever set foot on a sail boat,” the foundation’s mission stated.

Children and teenagers near L.A. Harbor were given the opportunity to step aboard a boat for the first time, courtesy of Los Angeles YC sponsoring Wilmington and San Pedro area students to set sail on local waters. Many participating students had not been on the water before, according to the club’s vice commodore, Carol Armitage.

Youth can earn grants or scholarships to fund their sailing activities through Dana Point Harbor Youth Foundation (DPHYF), which is supported by Dana Point YC. Dana Point YC’s charity regatta has reportedly raised $675,000 since its inception. Both the yacht club and youth foundation hope to raise another $100,000 through the regatta in 2016.

The Newport Harbor High School sailing team received funding a few years ago from Bahia Sail Racing Association (BSRA) and Bahia Corinthian YC. A young man received financial support from BSRA in 2013 to participate in the Flanders Regatta, where he finished as the top U.S. sailor and 28th overall out of 100 participants. A full list of activities supported by the racing foundation can be found on BSRA’s website, bahiasailracing.com/bsra-activities/.

Bahia Corinthian YC actively promotes BSRA, which helps send young sailors, ranging from children to high school students, to boating or sailing events around the world. BSRA accepts boat, money and time donations to promote its junior sailors. The organization also brings youth from inland Orange County who otherwise might not experience boating to be exposed to the water.

Students attending Chapman University, U.C. Irvine and a handful of local high schools receive grant funding from Newport Harbor Sailing Foundation for sailing programs or varsity sail teams. The foundation also funds youth participation in regional, state and international sailing events.

Earlier this month Coronado YC hosted a youth sailing fundraiser dinner to benefit 300-plus participants of the club’s junior sail program and 23 member sailors of the local high school’s sailing team.

Members of San Diego YC participate in the annual Chair Back Fundraising Campaign to support the San Diego Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. The club sells chair backs to boat owners; each chair back is embroidered with the purchaser’s boat name. Proceeds from the fundraiser help the club purchase new racing boats and accessories; pay for maintenance of safety boats, engines and boat trailers; and, sustain the club’s Junior Program.

Santa Margarita YC in Oceanside collects gifts as part of a Toys 4 Tots drive at its annual Christmas parties.

Support the Troops

Officers stationed at Camp Pendleton receive support from nearby yacht clubs such as Dana West YC, which hosts a holiday dinner for military members stationed at Camp Pendleton who are  unable to visit their families during the holidays. (The club also held its 19th annual Charity Regatta June 5 to 7 to benefit the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group.)

A Thanksgiving dinner is also provided for Marines at Camp Pendleton courtesy of Oceanside YC.

Inactive troops and veterans are also supported by yacht clubs as Channel Islands YC, for example, hosts its annual Disabled Veterans Sail Day in July. About 200 veterans reportedly participated in this year’s sail on Santa Barbara Channel. The event, which was launched in 2014 and brought back in 2015, honored disabled veterans who served the United States.

San Diego YC is currently raising funds for Operation: Holiday Helping Hand, which supports families of active duty service members. Club staff stated its members will distribute donations to “families of active duty service members who cope with serious physical, financial and separation concerns.” The club partnered with San Diego Armed Services YMCA to identify families receiving donations.

America Legion YC in Orange County hopes to regularly host boating events for veterans who were either severely wounded or lost limbs while serving the country. The club currently offers regularly scheduled “Day on the Water” cruises benefitting wounded warriors.

Health is Wealth

Many yacht clubs help fund health research or other medical-themed causes.

King Harbor YC raises funds for cancer research at Cedars-Sinai through the Tom Collier Memorial Regatta.

“Every year Dr. Philip Koeffler, chair of the Oncology Department comes to the after-race activities and tells the group what new research they are doing to hopefully, some day, cure cancer. King Harbor YC is proud that we have donated over $500,000 to Dr. Koeffler’s Lab at Cedars- Sinai,” Helling said.

Members of Bahia Corinthian YC help raise funds for blood cancer through the Leukemia Cup Regatta. Millions of dollars are raised at Leukemia Cup Regattas across the country to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fight cancer.

“It’s really a large driving force at the club,” said J.R. Means, a Bahia Corinthian YC member, adding the club’s involvement with the cup started about 10 years ago.

Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and Balboa YC joined forces to host an annual regatta in Newport Beach. The 2014 event helped raised funds for the hospital’s newest tower housing operating space, imaging and a pediatrics emergency room, among other services. This year’s CHOC Regatta, the 16th iteration of the event, was held Nov. 7.

A charity regatta hosted by Santa Barbara YC in September raised $170,000 for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care. Oceanside YC’s annual charity regatta raised more than $200,000 for The Elizabeth Hospice. A hospice fundraiser hosted by Santa Margarita YC in Oceanside raised $553 through ice cream sundae sales.

A group of yacht clubs in Long Beach host an annual charity regatta to benefit The Children’s Clinics of Long Beach, which was established in 1939 to address the city’s health care needs, particularly among low-income families.

Four yacht clubs — Long Beach, Shoreline, Alamitos Bay and Seal Beach — joined forces in 1987 to help raise funds for the clinic. Long Beach Singles YC, Navy YC, Marina YC and International Order of the Blue Gavel District 10 have since joined the annual regatta.

Other Philanthropic Acts

The Catalina Island Conservancy received sponsorship support from Corsair YC for its annual ball, which reportedly raised $5.3 million since 1996 for conservation, education and recreation programs on the island.

Yacht clubs also support the arts, as evidenced by the more than $12,000 Channel Islands YC reportedly helped raised for the Gold Coast Chorus in 2013. Ventura YC regularly supports Gold Coast Chorus, which supports talented singers and the performing arts, with a fundraiser each year, including this year’s event held on Nov. 15.

San Diego’s Southwestern YC raised more than $700,000 for senior living through multiple events as part of its Benefit of the Bay series. More than 1,000 people participate in fishing tournaments, galas and regattas hosted by Southwestern YC each year to support programs and services provided by ElderHelp of San Diego, according to club staff. ElderHelp has reportedly assisted more than 90,000 senior citizens (and their family members) in San Diego through care management, education, grocery shopping, and safety instruction. About 80 percent of funds donated to Southwestern YC through its Benefit of the Bay events are redirected to senior services.

A charity regatta benefitting the Challenged Sailors of San Diego was held by Point Loma YC earlier this year. The annual regatta raises money to help introduced disabled individuals to sailing activities.

American Legion YC just hosted its annual Sail for the Visually Impaired event, where 240 blind or visually impaired individuals spent a day sailing with members from the yacht club and Women’s Sailing Association of Orange County.

Not Just Yacht Clubs

Several charities or causes are also supported by fishing or sailing clubs, often in partnership with other nonprofit organizations.

Marcedes Lewis, a former UCLA football standout and professional player with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Long Beach Sailing Foundation hosted a charity invitational regatta at the Congressional Cup stadium in Long Beach in July to support the local Boys and Girls Club.

The fifth annual Marcedes Lewis Foundation was founded in 2011 and, with the help of Long Beach Sailing Foundation, introduced young children to the water and sailing with Catalina 37s.

“The goal [of the regatta is] to steer the way for young children [on to the water] … with high hopes to educate students how to sail on the high seas – culminating in an unforgettable race competition,” a blurb on the regatta’s website stated.

Disadvantaged children, church groups, students and recreational youth programs are given opportunities to drop lines in the water through Friends of Rollo. The hands-on fishing program introduced more than 100,000 children to marine life through expeditions and boating trips. Events are sponsored by individuals or organizations, allowing children to head out to sea aboard a Coast Guard-approved fishing vessel loaded with the proper equipment.

Fish 4 Life hosts half-day fishing charters for children with special needs. Participants are issued fishing equipment and taught how to catch fish.

Friends of Rollo and Fish 4 Life are two of three charitable causes supported by Dana Wharf Sportfishing. The Orange County fishing and whale watching company also promotes The Gulf of Catalina Gray Whale Preservation and Education Foundation. Educators and scientists use the foundation to teach children of the role gray whales play in the ecosystem.

Groups and organizations such as Mariners 936 Sea Scouts, Saddleback College, Westwind Sailing, Serra Sailing and Dana Outrigger Canoe Club help connect people to the water at low or no cost.

Westwind Sailing, for example, partnered with Inspire Charter Schools earlier this year to create an independent study program through boater education to provide youth with academic enrichment.

Also in Orange County is the Newport Sea Base, an aquatic center in Newport Beach providing year-round education and recreational opportunities for local youth to participate in activities such as boating, kayaking and sailing. The base was founded in 1937 and is currently backed by the local council of the Boy Scouts of America and Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Some organizations, such as Boat Angel or Boat 4 Causes, accept vessel donations to help fund charitable causes or organizations.

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