The Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup Army of Volunteers

By Mike & Maryellen Ferring, Event Chairs

You’ve seen the pictures and the brief regatta write-up, right? Now here’s some of the backstory.

Dave Perry taunts the crowd at the Friday night Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup seminar. Photo: Mike Ferring

We started working on the regatta one year ago, locking in Dave Perry as the featured attraction. I think you’ll agree that Dave was magnificent: funny, teasing, and loaded with sailing tips. How he quieted a tent of 220-plus people for 90 minutes Saturday night was astonishing.

Maryellen went after donations and discounts. The four big auction items: The Moorings BVI charter vacation (Maryellen and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society); San Diego trip with Harbor Sailboats and Hilton Del Mar (Maryellen) and Bob Naylor added a $200 certificate from West Marine; Napa trip (Brooke Miller secured the Silverado Resort, Maryellen added B Cellars winery and the girl and the fig restaurant); Arizona River Runners Grand Canyon rafting trip (Marc Danner). Those four items raised about $9,000.

And Maryellen solicited a raft of smaller items to sell to support the regatta and a bunch of people came through, from Bill Gladstone of NorthU, Mary Kay Farrington Lorch for Vincent’s, Stacey Haggart for a hotel stay and Friday night cocktails from The Barley Hound. Lots of AYC members donated sails that we sent to Sea Bags of Maine to be converted into bags that became trophies and thank-you gifts. (If you received one, congratulations, and you may know that the big bags sell for $130 and the smaller ones for $70.)

Mike got this email at 1:07 pm Friday. Yikes. The team quickly came up with Plan B: burgers and dogs on the grill.

In November, Bob Naylor volunteered big-time help and over the last few months was a key player. He was our Pleasant Harbor liaison, working on such things as tent location and camping. He connected with Lake Pleasant Sailing Club, giving presentations at meetings and helping line up their Sunday breakfast. He set up and tore down the outside generator light and barricades, and helped throughout. When the food truck broke down on the way to the lake, he and crew buddy Rick Sipe manned the grill to churn out burgers and hot dogs.

We got a huge boost from Candace Voorhees at Arizona Taste catering, who offered a 50% in-kind donation for catering the Saturday night dinner. The dinner was fabulous. Party People provided a discount on the tent and Dave Shaw was a brilliant partner on getting the facilities set.

PRO Skip Kempff leads the skippers meeting Friday. Photo: Mike Ferring

Meanwhile, Tony Chapman was recruiting out-of-state Vipers and working out their logistics. Rob Gibbs created an entire fleet, the Etchells, by putting together a charter package with John Riddell. Emory Heisler hustled up a Bucc fleet. Their efforts helped replace the pocket cruisers, who’d turned out in numbers the last few years but didn’t make it this year.

Skip Kempff agreed to be Principal Race Officer and recruited a fine band of troops, led by fellow Thistler Scott Richards. Others on the team were Bob Labine, Tom Dickerson, Lori Reger, Jim Moye, Freeman Halle, Dale Buchanan, Toby Olvera, Elizabeth Olvera, Jose Vicente, Jeff Freeman, and Cathy Freeman.

That’s Mark Howell under the red cap, scoring hundreds of races over the three days. Mark was the regatta’s unsung hero. Photo: Mike Ferring

AYC Stalwart Scorekeeper Dave Christensen was traveling during the regatta, so Mark Howell stepped into the breech. You may have spotted a lone figure at the ramada just outside the tent overlooking the lake, surrounded by electronic gizmos, intently converting pictures sent from the RC boat into race results. That was Mark. He’ll be awarded the Croix de Pleasant for valor under fire.

By all accounts, the race officials did an excellent job coordinating the 70 boats on the water, running some 44 races on Saturday alone.

David Newland made sure the AYC boats were ready for action, gassing them and cleaning them. Then David launched his personal powerboat that we used as a photo platform for AYC pictures and Dave Perry’s videos.

Some of the crew that put it all together on site: (l-r) Brooke Miller, Jonni Biaggini, Maryellen Ferring, and Kara Newland. Photo: Mike Ferring

This mob runs on food, so we needed to provide the groceries. Saturday morning breakfast was led by Tucson Sailing Club’s Glenn Brostedt, who not only cooked but decided not to sail in order to spend hours cleaning up. Sunday morning the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club organized the continental breakfast. Carolyn Cronin bought the goodies and then dashed off to see her first grandson born as others served the bagels. A platoon of Sea Scouts greeted you for Sunday lunch, offering brats and chips. When they weren’t cooking, they were helping straighten up the trailer and tent. Sack’s Sandwiches made 42 Saturday sandwiches for racers and RC and had them ready at 6:45 am, the earliest in the day they’d ever prepared an order. Grand Canyon Brewing delivered two huge kegs of craft beer for your drinking pleasure (thanks to Brooke for setting that up too).

You were met at registration by familiar faces, Al and Sandy Lehman, who have been doing that job for, what, decades we guess. They held it all together from their motorhome base 50 feet away.

Now this thank-you list gets a little murky because many of you jumped in to help where needed and there’s no way we could have a complete list of helpers. We know our friend Jonni Biaggini flew in from California and was a big help. Others we noticed and can remember included Scott Matreyek, Theresa and Kevin Baker, Kara Newland, Bob Whyte, Becky Houston, Ray and Mary Jo Chapman, and… well you know who you are and thank you.

And thanks to everyone who came to sail and party in the desert!