Saturday was a lousy day for sailing, but a great day for fundraising. The 12th annual Leukemia Cup Regatta set sail from the Washington Sailing Marina in Alexandria to raise more than $150,000 to work toward a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease.
"Unfortunately, we didn't have much wind," said Chris Munson, master of the American Spirit, an observation ship allowing spectators to watch the race. "So it didn't look that exciting. But we're here today for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."
The society was founded in 1949 to improve the quality of life of patients of blood cancers and their families. Since its founding, the society has invested more than $360 million to research. The regatta was hosted by the National Capital Area Chapter of the society, which describes the regatta as "D.C.'s most talked about event."
More than 100 sailboats took to the Potomac to raise money for the regatta.
Money raised comes from corporate sponsors and sailors. The Leukemia Cup was awarded to the team that raised the most money: The Five Skippers, who raised more than $20,000 for the society with their boat, the Euphoria.
"It was typical light air sailing on the Potomac," said Mike Geissinger, one of the two Alexandrians to sail with the Five Skippers, while docking the Euphoria after the regatta. "We were just creeping along — less than a mile in two hours."
THE FIVE SKIPPERS have won the cup for the past four years, raising more than $63,000 for the society. Geissinger says that the success of the Five Skippers has encouraged other teams to be competitive with their fundraising.
"Other folks have felt compelled to compete with us," Geissinger said. "So that's more money for leukemia research."
For the Five Skippers, the Leukemia Cup was a way to work against deadly cancers that have low survival rates. Last year, according to the American Cancer Society, 23,300 Americans died from leukemia and 20,730 died from lymphoma.
"We have friends who have suffered from leukemia," said Tom Hannan, one of the Five Skippers. "For each of us, this is our chosen charity. This is definitely our biggest event of the year."
Hannan says that the Five Skippers aggressively work to raise money before the regatta.
"I probably contact about 100 people electronically," Hannan said. "About 25 or 30 percent of those come back."
Top sponsors for the regatta included MCG Capital, Mt. Gay Rum, John Mecray, North Sails, SunSail and West Marine. Nationally, more than 40 chapters of the society host sailing events.