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Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, Santa Barbara Yacht Club Sail Away at Charity Regatta

The 12th annual "Yachts of Love" fundraiser features a fun-filled day of festivities and raises more than $133,000 for VNHC

From left, Bob Young, commodore; Francie Lufkin, staff commodore and Santa Barbara Yacht Club charity regatta committee chair; Lynda Tanner, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care president and CEO; Rick Keith, executive director of foundation for VNHC; and Bill Guilfoyle, rear commodore, at the 12th annual “Yachts of Love” Charity Regatta on Sept. 10 at the Yacht Club to benefit VNHC. Click to view larger
From left, Bob Young, commodore; Francie Lufkin, staff commodore and Santa Barbara Yacht Club charity regatta committee chair; Lynda Tanner, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care president and CEO; Rick Keith, executive director of foundation for VNHC; and Bill Guilfoyle, rear commodore, at the 12th annual “Yachts of Love” Charity Regatta on Sept. 10 at the Yacht Club to benefit VNHC. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

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The 12th annual “Yachts of Love” charity regatta benefiting Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care was held Sept. 10 at the scenic and historic Santa Barbara Yacht Club and featured a day of fun-filled festivities, tasty down-home barbecue and competitive boat racing.

VNHC partnered with SBYC for this special afternoon fundraiser that was open to the public and included a beautiful day on the water in spectator boats with dining at the yacht club for a cause that is close to many hearts within the community.

Rick Keith, executive director of foundation for VNHC, spoke about the strength of both organizations coming together to support the community.

“What’s incredible about this event is that we are two well-known and established organizations in Santa Barbara, coming together to help our community for the past 12 years,” Keith said. “I think what we’ve accomplished really speaks highly of both organizations. We’ve been here 108 years, and this is the 12th year of the event, and no one ever dreamed that it would last as long or raise as much money as it has. In 12 years, the yacht club has raised over $1.2 million benefiting Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.”

Frankie Lufkin, SBYC staff commodore chair and the first female commodore to ever hold the post in 2013, explained that the SBYC Charity Regatta began in 1990 as a group effort orchestrated by 2004 Commodore Dennis Friedrich and club members to help various nonprofits in the community that were non-marine-related.

“Dennis really believed that it was important for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club to give something back to the community,” Lufkin told Noozhawk. “He reached out to Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care and asked if we could put on a regatta, and they jumped at it and we’ve had this wonderful relationship ever since. It’s important to note that pretty much 100 percent of the membership has been touched or involved one way or the other by services that Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care provides.”

The two organizations also united to “Honor Our Veterans,” with veteran skippers from SBYC and Vet-to-Vet Volunteers Greg Brown, John Dailey, Scott Eschbach, Geoff Groves, Jim McClue and Brian Smith proudly participating in the event.

“The Vet-to-Vet program pairs veterans that are volunteers for our services with the veterans that are patients of ours, because they have a unique bond and a unique culture and have served in the military,” Keith said. “It doesn’t matter if they are from the same branch or not; they talk the same language and have similar experiences that none of us can ever imagine or cope with because we are not veterans.”

The “We Honor Veterans” initiative is a national partnership between the Veterans Administration and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, with Vet-to-Vet’s goal of matching trained veteran volunteers with veteran hospice patients.

“This volunteer program provided me an opportunity to continue to fulfill my wish for being a companion and a listener to fellow veterans,” said Brian Smith, VNHC board member, veteran volunteer and 4th Infantry Division Vietnam veteran.

Founded in 1872, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club opened its scenic clubhouse to friends, family members and fellow Santa Barbarians who gathered shortly after noon to the lively sounds of live music as guests mingled on the outdoor balcony overlooking the harbor, Stearns Wharf and the Pacific Ocean.

“Each year, thousands of families are able to live independently, recover from illness or transition at the end of life with dignity and comfort through the compassionate and trusted care we provide,” VNHC president and CEO Lynda Tanner said.

Dressed in casual and comfortable gear for sailing guests in baseball caps, T-shirts, jeans and sneakers were eager to test out their sea legs. People paired off into small groups and walked along the harbor assisted by smiling young sailors from the Youth Sailing Foundation, who escorted passengers to the boats.

Honored veterans, top row from left, David Moorman, John Dailey, Brian Smith and John Blankenship; bottom row from left, Troy Scott, Scott Esbach, Mo Masson, Phil Conran and Jack Byers.
Honored veterans, top row from left, David Moorman, John Dailey, Brian Smith and John Blankenship; bottom row from left, Troy Scott, Scott Esbach, Mo Masson, Phil Conran and Jack Byers. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

“We are fortunate to have this special little spot on the sand overlooking the ocean,” Lufkin said. “But not everyone has the opportunity to visit the club, and we wanted to do something that was beneficial, impactful and fun, which is why we offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy the races on one of our spectator boats.”

An assemblage of powerboats and sailboats glided effortlessly across the gleaming water with elated passengers in tow and sails reflecting the calm ebb and flow of the sea.

Spectators lounged on decks, waving and calling out to other passing boats surrounded by the whitewashed buildings and red-tiled roofs of picturesque Santa Barbara with the Channel Islands in the distance.

Guests on the vessels were all smiles as they settled in for departure while hosts offered a variety of homemade sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheeses, wine and beer to guests, and the skipper in charge explained the safety rules and features onboard to attentive onlookers.

Out at sea, spectators on decks snapped photos of passing powerboats and sailboats, waved at one another and shouted words of encouragement as an assemblage of boats swirled around one another with hulls tilted far over into the sea. Water splashed over decks as they raced along under full sail, playfully cutting through a shimmering sheet of waves with their colorful sails reflecting off the mirrored water.

Fourteen boats competed in the highly charged and competitive Charity Regatta with skipper Kent Pierce on Average White Boat, Tom Parker on Taxi Dancer, Bill Guilfoyle on Prevail and Lisa Claudette Gilinger on Sleeper leading the charge.

After the races, passengers returned to the clubhouse for a traditional barbecue, where guests lined up along large barbecue pits to take turns charbroiling chicken, salmon and hamburgers while reminiscing about the boating and appreciating the goal of this special day. The Yacht Club was honored to open its doors and boats to the community for a great cause, raising more than $133,200 for VNHC.

The mission of VNHC is to provide high-quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay. For 108 years, the nonprofit organization has served Santa Barbara residents in need of care who are facing the last stages of life.

The 27,300-square-foot Serenity House delivers critical additional hospice care in the Santa Barbara region, with the mission that nobody dies alone and there’s somewhere to go even if someone doesn’t have family or friends nearby.

Click here for more information about Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Guests enjoy the boat races on a spectator boat. Click to view larger
Guests enjoy the boat races on a spectator boat. (Scott Gibson Photography photo)
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