SEQUIM — Perhaps it’s the good-natured competition or the recognition that funds raised at the event go to a critical need in the community that hits close to home for members of the Sequim Bay Yacht Club.
Whatever the reason, local sailors and rowers found a way to raise more than $18,000 last year for a set of races that didn’t happen.
Susan Sorensen, publicity representative for the yacht club’s annual Reach and Row for Hospice, said she was pleasantly shocked at the $18,128 locals raised for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County in 2020, despite having to cancel the sailboat and rowing races with the outbreak of COVID-19.
“I can’t remember at what point we decided not to have it, (but) knowing that hospice relies on these funds, I was impressed everyone opened their pockets,” Sorensen said recently.
Club members are hoping for similar generosity when the races return this year for in-person competition and fundraising Sept. 18-19.
The 29th annual Reach and Row for Hospice sailboat races will begin at noon Saturday, Sept. 18, and conclude at about 4 p.m. Rowing competition will start at about 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, and finish by 11 a.m.
“The public is invited to come down to Sequim Bay to watch the races,” Sorensen said.
Those wishing to make a contribution by mail can send their tax-deductible donations to Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County, 829 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles WA 98362; write “Reach and Row for Hospice” in the subject line.
Initially established in 1991 as a sailboat race, Reach and Row in 2018 was expanded to include a 10-kilometer, open-water competition in Sequim Bay for anyone with an oar or paddle, including rowers, kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders.
Since its inception, the event has raised $401,202.53 to provide respite care for Volunteer Hospice, allowing family members to get a break from taking care of their loved ones dealing with end-of-life conditions.
That fundraising didn’t take a break in 2020, despite a pause in racing. Sailboat racers gathered $9,740, a quilt raffle drew $1,975, general donations brought in $2,990 and yacht club Commodore Jerry Fine held special fundraisers that totaled $3,248, Sorensen noted.
“I was amazed when we got the total,” she said.
The aging demographics of some of the racers and other club members might be a contributing factor to the steady source of funds, she said.
“It’s striking close to home for some of us who’ve been here a while, (thinking) ‘This may be something I have to use,’ ” Sorensen said.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].