Pink Boat Regatta: Supporting Breast Cancer Research Through Sailing

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Once a year, Shilshole Bay in Seattle, WA gets a dose of pink as sailors decorate their sailboats, and themselves, to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson

The race itself is born of a saga of perseverance and community spirit. Following the first annual regatta in 2012, the original organization was dissolved, leaving the regatta to an uncertain fate despite having raised an unprecedented $36,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in it’s first year.


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson

Nevertheless, Seattle’s nonprofit Sloop Tavern Yacht Club picked up the pieces and took the event under their wing for an additional year while organizers rushed to put together a new charitable organization capable of running the event annually. In it’s second year, they donated over $39,000, as Seattle’s close-knit sailing community came together once again.


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson

The 3rd Annual Pink Boat Regatta, now it’s own safe entity and supporting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation with 100% of all net proceeds, is approaching fast. On September 7th in both Seattle and Bellingham, WA, sailors will don their pink, leave their moorages in decorated sailboats, and spend a few hours rounding buoys for the cause before heading to the party.


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson


a brazinnaker for the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson

There’s the boat who made a ‘brazinnaker’ out of an old pink spinnaker. There’s pink dyed sails, pink duct-taped hulls, every sort of pink-clad costumed-sailor one could imagine, all vying for the coveted ‘Pinkest Boat Award,’ some having prepared and planned months ahead of time.  There are the tokens honoring survivors, and those who lost the fight, reminding us why we’re out sailing on a beautiful September day so that one day we will have seen this important research to fruition and no longer lose our loved ones to this terrible disease.


ashley with her mother, a breast cancer surviver

Thanks to the regatta’s unique “buy-a-buoy” concept, sailors begin fundraising as soon as their boat is registered, earning an extra ‘buoy’ on race day for every $100 they raise.  Some plan months in advance, throwing themselves into the cause with the vigor and enthusiasm of an inspired and affected community who’ve embraced the idea that doing the thing many of us love best, being out on the water with our friends and loved ones, can, once a year, become something much bigger for a cause just as close to home as are the local waterways.


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson


the pink boat regatta – photo: jan anderson

The event for 2014 has already passed the $30,000 mark heading into the final days before the event takes place, and is on track for its’ most impactful year yet.  What better way to support breast cancer research and prevention than a fun-filled day on the water before an epic awards party?  Visit for more information about the event and to see its progress.

Ashley is a scientist moonlighting as a sailor… or is it the other way around? When she’s not racing sailboats in her spare time, she’s planning regattas on the Puget Sound.

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