POSTED ON JUNE 2, 2010:
Sailing the High Lake
Bartlett Regatta ships out for the public and a good cause
This three-hour boat ride promises to be nothing like the ill-fated one from Gilligan's Island. It does, however, promise to be fun, competitive and exciting.
The 2010 Bartlett Regatta and Launch Party offers patrons, sponsors, volunteers and the general public the opportunity to watch and crew 15 to 25 sailboats as they race across Grand Lake on June 5.
For the past 25 years, the regatta has raised more than $2 million for The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, 815 S. Utica Ave. This year's event retains many traditions and cornerstones but includes several new additions as well.
The chance to see the race from the Cherokee Queen II, sponsored by John and Sarah Graves of Cyclonic Valve, is one such addition. For $25, anyone can buy a ticket to cruise on a first-come, first-serve basis. The ticket price includes a boxed lunch, and soft drinks and beer will be offered.
Joe Hardwood, who has participated in the regatta for years, hosts the race again this year at the Arrowhead Yacht Club, 32894 S. 4507 Road.
The race kicks off at 1pm at the club and lasts until 4pm, but race day officially begins at 10am with a continental breakfast for the race participants. Casual dress and boating shoes are appropriate. The race winners will be announced at an awards party immediately following the race.
The regatta was born in 1986 and is the brainchild of a bunch of local sailors who were just sitting around, said Sherry Setters, director of community relations for the center. Word spread, and Floyd "Pete" Bartlett (no close relation to our current mayor), whom the regatta is named in memory of, and Bill Dawson got together and decided to contribute $5,000 each to start the first regatta.
Skippers and their crews man the boats, which can be upwards of 21 feet in length, Setters said. New skippers participate each year, many of whom have participated as crew members in previous years. A few have been a part of the regatta since the beginning, however.
Dave Bond and Steve Clark have raced every year since 1986 and serve as this year's co-chairs.
Seeing the camaraderie and members of the center who come to watch the race are two things Bond said he enjoys most about the regattas. Bond has won the race seven times.
Judy Kishner, who chaired the first two regattas, said she is back again this year to chair the 2010 event "just for fun."
Kishner said the regatta has grown significantly during the past 25 years and that she expects this year's regatta to be especially good.
Those attending the Launch Party can bid on the skippers and their sailboats during the live auction at 6pm on June 2 at the center, so they can be a part of the crew, have lunch on the boat and sail in the race on Saturday. Crew members aren't required to have sailing experience.
The Launch Party follows the Patron Party, which features a champagne toast, cocktails and a buffet catered by TW's-AFAB Catering at 5:30pm. Patron sponsorships begin at $1,000, and each of the six levels of sponsorship allows patrons a specific amount of bidding voucher money that they have the option of combining with additional cash.
Individuals can still buy tickets for $50 to get a seat and take part in the Launch Party festivities. Seating is assigned, and organizers recommend those interested in purchasing tickets buy them at least a day before the Launch Party.
During the sailboat bidding war, skippers put on a show trying to outdo each other each year, Setters said. The traveling Ziegler Cup goes to the skipper of the boat that receives the highest bid and raises the most money for the center.
"One lady even said, 'I even have a waffle iron on my boat. If you want waffles, we'll have waffles,'" she said.
The sailboats are divided into two fleets: the racing fleet, which will compete in the race, and the cruising fleet for those who aren't as interested in competition.
While enjoying dinner and drinks, patrons can bid on not only boat rides during the live auction but also a variety of items and experiences. These include a trip for two to Phoenix, Ariz., tickets to the winner's choice of Colorado Rockies games and a chance to be "captain for the day" of the Cherokee Queen II on race day.
This year's live auction will auction off more items than ever before, Setters said. Gailard Sartain's acrylic painting, created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the regatta, will also be available for bidding during the live auction. Launch Party participants will be able to buy signed and unsigned copies of this year's poster.
On top of the live auction, two silent auctions feature items such as a case of wine from Two Buck Chuck Wines, a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino getaway package for two and seating for 18 people in the Manhattan Construction Suite at ONEOK Field.
The Launch Party will also sell tickets for a chance to win a 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sports Sedan from Jackie Cooper Imports.
The Bartlett Regatta and Launch Party plays an important role when it comes to keeping The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges afloat. Ninety percent of funds raised during the regatta are used to help support the center's programs and services, and every year the event raises an average of $100,000 for the Tulsa Area United Way agency, according to tulsacenter.org.
Since 1957, the center has been helping people with mobility, dexterity and sensory impairments. Its mission is to give "opportunities for persons with physical disabilities to enhance the quality of their lives," according the center's website.
During the past year, the center's membership has increased by 225 members, and between 80 and 83 percent of active members have reported stability or improvement in each of the areas regarding physical functioning, life satisfaction and social level.
The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges also boasts the only Junior Wheelchair Sports program in the region.
For those who long to feel the wind in their hair, hear the sounds of water slapping against the boat and feel warm in their hearts for supporting a good cause, the 2010 Bartlett Regatta can offer some satisfaction.
"People will walk away feeling good in more ways than one," Setters said.
For more information about the 2010 Bartlett Regatta and tickets, visit tulsacenter.org.
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