When 25 sailboats take to the waters of beautiful Logan Martin Lake on Saturday, Sept. 18, they’ll be “sailing with a purpose.”
While members of the Birmingham Sailing Club enjoy getting together for a day of fun on the lake, the reason behind the annual regatta is to help fund quality research by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and to support families that are struggling with deadly blood cancers.
None of the sailboats is motorized. “We’re hoping there will be sufficient wind to race,” said Birmingham Sailing Club Commodore Wayne Bucher, who has sailed for about six years. “This event draws serious racers, of course, but it’s also fun for those who aren’t quite so serious.” Many club members have sailed and raced for several decades, while others have taken part in the sport for their entire lives.
Birmingham Sailing Club members race 12 months of the year, weather permitting.
“The concept of a regatta in support of LLS started right here on Logan Martin Lake,” said Bucher, who enjoys stand-up paddle boarding and rowing from his lake house.
“This is a chance to get out and enjoy a few hours on the lake,” said Bucher, who owns a nonmotorized, 19-foot-long Flying Scot dingy and a Catalina 22, which has a small outboard motor, for use when winds are too light. “There are competitions for several different classes of boats. It gives you some bragging rights.”
With its panoramic views and deep blue waters, Logan Martin Lake is the perfect venue for the annual competition. Many Birmingham Sailing Club members come out to support the event and donate to LLS. Competitors are encouraged to “round up” the $65 registration fee, because all funds go to LLS.
“We’ve had a couple of members who have had leukemia – no one is immune to being touched by this,” Bucher said. “LLS is a worthy charity.”
After COVID-19 hit, the LLS on April 1, 2019, created a financial aid program that provided support to about 500 cancer patients. The society assisted with urgent needs such as transportation, lodging costs and food at a critical time.
The annual regatta has gained ongoing support from the Logan Martin Lake community. Historically, the Birmingham Sailing Club has raised a substantial amount for LLS during the past 34 years, donating as much as $30,000 from the regatta during some years. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, this year’s regatta will be low key. The event usually offers live and silent auctions and a formal dinner; this year, members will have lunch at the sailing club’s patio.
“Racing sailboats is one of the safest things you can do as far as social distancing. So this year, instead of a catered dinner, it’s a hot-dog cookout outdoors,” Bucher said with a chuckle. “It doesn’t matter. Some of the teams competing are married couples and family members. We are a diverse and interesting group of people who love lake life. Some folks are second- and third-generation members of the club.”
Bucher learned to sail at the Birmingham Sailing Club, much of it by crewing for others. The club provides sailing classes twice yearly, which includes classroom instruction, boat rigging and on-the-water sessions at Logan Martin Lake. On-the-water training is hands-on and conducted by experienced skippers. Click here for more information.
“We want everyone to take advantage of fun on the water,” Bucher said. “Racing is a great way to gain experience in varying winds and traffic. And the winds on this lake tend to shift in both directions and velocity, which adds to the challenges.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)