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Youth races open Hospice charity regatta weekend in Henderson (VIDEO)

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HENDERSON HARBOR— Several young sailors had their day on the water Friday afternoon to open the two-day Jefferson County Hospice Charity Cup Regatta.

The event, in its 20th year, brings boaters from around the area, and today adult sailors will race in the Charity Cup for an opportunity to qualify for the Hospice Regatta National Championship in St. Petersburg, Fla., next spring.

The regatta, hosted this year at the Henderson Harbor Yacht Club, is an important fundraiser for the Jefferson County organization, and Lynn R. Dobbins, the local organization’s director of development, said the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in its lifetime.

“It’s a family event, and that’s what makes it so fun,” Mrs. Dobbins said.

Registration for today’s races will be from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and after a skippers meeting at 9:30 a.m., the races will begin about 10:30 a.m. Several social events are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

On Friday afternoon, a group of about 20 children representing the Henderson Harbor Yacht Club and Crescent Yacht Club, Chaumont, competed in a series of short races.

Before the event, Alex K. Davis, 9, a rising fifth-grader at Cape Vincent Elementary School, said that it was his third year in the competition, and that he loved being on the water.

“I’m excited as you can get,” he said. He said he liked racing with his friends Josef J. Sherman, 9, and Benjamin M. Wiley, 9, and the three sat together as they readied their pram ships to go on the water.

“They’re excited to be out there and be with the other kids, and they learn so fast,” said Barry K. Davis, Junior Division president for Crescent Yacht Club.

The younger boaters also got in on the fundraising effort. Mary M. Hoffman, program director of the Henderson Harbor Water Sports Programs Inc., said the children raised $3,296 in pledges.

“This is an event that teaches kids how to give back,” Ms. Hoffman said. She added that sailing taught them about problem solving, teamwork, water safety and science, among other subjects.

“There’s a lot of stuff they don’t even realize is going on because they’re having fun,” she said.

Over by the boat launch, Michael A. Barber, 14, Carly R. Moore, 13, David M. Saunders, 12, and Connor V.S. Way, 13, struggled to get a sail in place on a 420 boat as it jerked in the wind. Though he and his friends had raised more than $400 for the organization, there was only one thing on Michael’s mind when it came to the races.

“Winning,” he said.

The youth sailing event was also about developing a lifelong love of the water.

Watching over the first in a series of pram races on a separate motorboat, sailing instructor John A. King said the boating experience helped the young people develop their confidence and make new friends. Mr. King, a past winner of the junior competition, sat on the boat with fellow competition winner Andrew S. Leonard and first-time instructor Paige A. Whitney. He said half of his friendships developed from sailing.

“It’s lifelong,” Mr. King said. “You can do it until you die.”

Video from Friday’s youth races can be found at http://wdt.me/MArHGx.


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