More than 200 members of the yachting community rallied on Friday, September 29 at Newport Shipyard to paddle in the Shipyard’s annual “Pumpkin Regatta” which raised over $8,200 for three non-profit organizations: Warrior Sailing Program which provides maritime education and outreach for wounded, ill, and injured service members; and Antigua & Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR) and Sea Mercy, both of which are aiding in hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean.
“It was a beautiful evening and we were thrilled with the number of people who came to race in our annual event and have fun supporting these organizations,” said Eli Dana, Newport Shipyard’s general manager. “This is by far the most money we have raised through this event and it truly was a team effort with Shipyard employees, yacht crews, and many local businesses generously donating for the silent auction and raffle. “We believe strongly in supporting the Warrior Sailing Program and we especially enjoyed having two teams of Warriors paddling and meeting many members of the Newport yachting community,” Dana said. “We spend several weeks in Antigua each winter supporting another event called the Wobbly Club Regatta which benefits Antigua and Barbuda Search & Rescue. We have a long-standing relationship with ABSAR and wanted to support their mission of rebuilding the hospital in Barbuda, which was decimated by Hurricane Irma,” Dana continued. “Finally, several yacht crews here work with Sea Mercy, an organization that has been asked to lead the disaster and response efforts in the Caribbean. Sea Mercy is focusing on dedicated transport to get aid and volunteers to needed areas, clean water generation, health care, and collecting and distributing roofing and building materials. We are thrilled to donate the money our community has helped us raise to these three worthy organizations,” Dana concluded.
A donation tent was also setup during the Pumpkin Regatta to collect new or gently used bed linens, towels, clothing, and other dry goods to take to the Caribbean later this Fall. Donations will continue to be collected at Newport Shipyard through the end of October.
Paddlers paid $25 each to race across the Shipyard’s “main street” basin, around a buoy and back in fiberglass pumpkins which were painted red, white & blue to honor Warrior Sailing Program. Each team had 4-5 paddlers in the relay-style race, which was timed by Shipyard employees. Team The Viz won the race with a best time of 5 minutes, 8 seconds and proudly received a case of champagne and bragging rights as the fastest pumpkin in town! Attendees enjoyed tacos and burritos from Diego’s Bodega, which was sponsored by Newport Shipyard, and yachts at the Shipyard donated hot dogs, wine and other beverages for everyone to enjoy.
Local businesses including the Clarke Cooke House, Newport Marriott, The Spa at the Newport Marriott, Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation, and Black Rock Sailing School, made donations to the silent auction which raised $1,180. Avery and Elena Whidden, longtime friends and customers of the Shipyard, called in to buy the life-sized baby inflatable elephant that they saw on Newport Shipyard’s Instagram account. “We are in for $1,000,” Mr. Whidden said. “It’s all such a good cause.”
Donors for the raffle included: Candy Store Cup, Soulful Touch, Holy Smokes, Lemon & Line, Crosswynd Traders, Helly Hansen, lululemon, Breakwater Surf Co., RE-Sails, Buzzards Bay Outfitters, Providence Bruins, Mission, Aquidneck Meat & Provisions, and Mudville Pub.