This year's CRAB, Leukemia, and Hospice Cups will go with modifications. Photo courtesy of the Leukemia Cup.

Annapolis Charity Sailing Race Series Kicks off in Two Weeks

As recreational boating on the Bay continues to prove one of the most popular pandemic pastimes, one of Annapolis’s most competitive sailing series–and definitely its most philanthropic–is set to start: The Triple Crown of Charity Sailing.

Now in its third year, the series tests participants’ skills both on and off the water by awarding its much-coveted trophy to the sailor with the combined best finishes and highest fundraising totals in three races: the CRAB (Chesapeake Regional Accessible Boating) Cup, Leukemia Cup, and Hospice Cup.

The races will happen in a tighter window and different order than in previous years, with the CRAB Cup kicking things off on August 15th, followed by The Leukemia Cup on September 5th and The Hospice Cup on September 19. There will also be no pre- or post-race shore parties this year due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Despite the limitations, the charities say raising funds for their respective causes, whether through race participation or direct donations, is as important as ever.

Proceeds from the CRAB Cup will not only support the organization’s mission of bringing the freedom and therapeutic value of sailing to people with disabilities, recovering warriors, and youth from at-risk communities, they will also support its future headquarters, a first-of-its-kind Adaptive Boating Center. 

And supporters are already coming through. Bo Bollinger, CRAB’s Executive Director, reports that the race has raised a record amount in sponsorship this year and that the 21 skippers and crew who’ve entered the race thus far have already raised nearly $25,000 through the Skippers Challenge, an online fundraising competition that factors into Triple Crown scoring. He also shares that the Cup will include many virtual components this year, from an online auction and raffle to a post-event presentation with music, pictures, and video from the race.

An online auction and virtual awards ceremony will also be a key feature of the Leukemia Cup, which hopes to attract 100 sailors (it’s already registered 24, ahead of last year’s pace) and raise $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Maryland Chapter, and the research, patient programs, and advocacy to cure blood cancers that it supports. 

“This crisis has led to the cancelation of many things, but cancer isn’t one of them, and we are focusing one-hundred percent of our efforts on delivering an exceptional sailing experience and exceeding our goal,” said Cup co-chair Chris Munson. 

As Cup co-chair Patrick Shannon added, “Many of the patients and families that LLS serves are dealing with the double impact of their cancer diagnosis and the pandemic’s health and financial burdens, so our mission is more critical than ever.”

Ditto for the Hospice Cup, whose funds support those in need of professional grief counseling and loss support services offered by regional hospices.  

“It always means a lot to us to be able to raise money for such a meaningful cause but especially this year, as COVID-19 has made local hospices’ support even more essential due to many in our community dying alone and their loved ones left to deal with the complex grief of not being able to say goodbye,” said Christine Lasser, Hospice Cup Executive Director. 

Lasser hopes that this year’s unique offerings – including an online auction, a socially-distanced awards ceremony at Forward Brewing, and the ability for racers to purchase a print of their boat in action from Jay Fleming, who will shoot the race – will help draw both skippers and donations.

It’s clear a global pandemic–and the required adjustments–won’t stop the determination and generosity of Triple Crown participants.
Steve Adams