The volunteer committee at Seattle’s Pink Boat Regatta, flying their colors in support.

For the uninitiated, the Pink Boat Regatta would appear to be hundreds of people, on dozens of boats, who just love to wear pink. Boats dressed up in pink skirting, flying pink flags, and even some with giant pink spinnakers create a “sea” of pink across the water and on land.

Yet for many 48° North readers, or anyone who has been around the sailing scene over the last decade, the Pink Boat Regatta has become the healthy blend of philanthropy, sailboat racing, and of course, a great party! Started in 2012 by local sailor Ashley Bell, whose mother was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the Pink Boat Regatta was formed as a way to “do her part” — combining her love of sailing and the urgent need to help find a cure.

Ashley moved on from Pink Boat management in 2020, but the all-volunteer board of the Pink Boat Regatta carries on the mission: to raise vital funds for breast cancer research through sailing, “because that’s what we do.” One hundred percent of the Pink Boat Regatta’s net proceeds are donated each year to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Pink Boat Regattas now take place in Bellingham, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Stephanie Campbell and John Stocklass.

While the pandemic slowed things down a bit in the sailing world, the Pink Boat Regatta did its best to still raise funds. In 2020, sailors gathered on Zoom, where they told stories (lies?) of sailing greatness, and donated just under $10,000 to BCRF. It was a valiant effort for sure. Then in 2021 while social distancing, the three regattas raised $110,000 to donate to BCRF. What a comeback! This year, in its 10th year, the Pink Boat Regatta sailors have united once again, to raise funds for this most important cause.

In each of its three venues, the Pink Boat Regatta consists of a “fun race” where competitors form a team to raise funds all year, leading up to the regattas themselves. They race around the buoys for three hours, and then come back to party. Awards are given for the most fundraising combined with the number of buoys rounded. Special awards include Pinkest Boat and Overall Female Skipper. Business sponsors include Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (formerly known as SCCA), Potelco, Valholl Brewery, Helly Hansen, Slayton South Sound Homz, Seattle Gummy, Ballard Sails, Guardian Roofing, CSR Marine, Port of Bellingham, Fisheries Supply, and Race Week PNW. These sponsors represent businesses all over Puget Sound, giving money and/or in-kind donations, to allow the Pink Boat Regatta to keep expenses low — which maximizes proceeds given to BCRF. In addition to the sponsors, many other local businesses and individuals donated time, gifts, and money to help the cause in raffles and auctions.

King 40, Hydra.

The Regatta series kicked off in Bellingham on August 27. It was a fun, windy, and very pink day of sailboat racing on Bellingham Bay. There were 10 teams racing around the buoys with Team Boobicon winning Pinkest Boat. Team Dash Dot Dot Dash won the most funds raised, with $9,909.00 donated to their campaign.

Bellingham Yacht Club opened their doors to host the event with a live band, appetizers, and drinks to follow the racing. For the live auction, Stephanie Campbell and Stephanie Arnold auctioned themselves for one day, offering to go sailing, wax a boat, or even do yard work for the highest bidder. Both Stephanies were happy to donate their time to help someone and to raise money for breast cancer research. It was a perfect pink day on the water and ashore to celebrate, remember, and raise money for such a great cause.

Jeanneau 30, Amoretto.

Then, on September 10, sailors in Seattle invaded Shilshole Bay Marina to show their support. Sailors, spectators, and even some of the folks just walking by gave generously this year. In all, 16 boats, representing three classes, raced around the buoys in the sporty wind conditions. The team on Sea Elegans won Pinkest Boat, while Dulcinea raised the most funds with $10,001.47 donated to their campaign. Following the race, everyone celebrated at the marina with live music, food trucks, raffles, auctions, and great camaraderie just outside the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle’s clubhouse. Awards were given, and a great time was had by all. The coveted raffle prize this year was a set of very large pink fenders, among other items.

The Regatta series concluded this year on September 17 in Tacoma. Sailors from the south end and beyond come to Tacoma’s historic waterfront to race, raise money, and play. Corinthian Yacht Club of Tacoma, the sponsor partner for this race, put together a great course and the wind didn’t disappoint! The folks dining at the restaurants along Ruston Way got a great show, with 16 boats on course for 3 hours! Tacoma showed up BIG with raffle items, auctions and continued donations at the awards party right until the very end. The Grace E team took home the award for Pinkest Boat, and Hope Floats brought home the award for most funds raised, with $11,459.56 donated to their campaign. The gracious party host, Rock the Dock Pub and Grill, took great care of the partygoers. The coveted raffle prize this year was a $400 gift card from our friends and sponsor at Helly Hansen.

J/99, Dash.

The Pink Boat Regatta continues to bring strong donations for BCRF, year after year. The volunteers and sponsors really pull this whole thing together, with many of them being members of the all-volunteer board of directors. Attendees at each event expressed their gratitude and said that they could not wait until next year. Everyone involved hopes that we won’t need the Pink Boat Regatta in the future; but until we don’t, we will continue our efforts!

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