HAMPTON ROADS, Va. –
Despite triple-digit temperatures, the cool breeze flowing through the Chesapeake Bay July 7 made for perfect sailing conditions for the 2012 Veterans' Cup sailing race sponsored by the Langley Yacht Club. Jim Beaudry, sailing Black Dog, took first place, but the real winner was the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program.
Mike Barber, LYC commodore, presented the profits raised by the entry fees for the race to Eric Endries, VWWP Greater Hampton Roads area regional director, during the post-race festivities. More than 20 boats participated, and their crews raised $600 to provide resources for military veterans, their families and friends.
"Virginia is privileged to have such a remarkable veteran community," said Catherine Wilson, VWWP executive director. "It amazes me that one in 10 Virginians is a veteran. We have over 260,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have served our country since 9/11."
The VWWP provides a network of community-based services designed to help veterans and their families overcome the challenges of stress-related and traumatic-brain injuries. These services are coordinated through local regional VWWP associations, consisting of community providers, including community services boards, brain injury services providers, VA Medical facilities and other public and private providers.
Always held near the 4th of July holiday, the Veterans Cup is the LYC's annual keystone race. It is a Cruising Club of Virginia sanctioned event which honors veterans of all services, and is open to all military and non-military racers, typically drawing more than 40 racers and cruisers each year.
"We had a good, safe race," said Gary Herbert, LYC race captain. "The winds were higher than expected, so it turned out to be a great day on the water."
Kathy Barber, LYC member, has been sailing for as long as she can remember. She said the Veterans' Cup is one of the club's favorite events, because it keeps the money the club raises in the Hampton Roads area.
"This race has been on and off for about the past 30 years," said Barber. "Last year we hooked up with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program because we wanted to make sure we had a legitimate cause."
Because the LYC is mostly Air Force retirees, including veterans from Vietnam and the Gulf wars, they kept the name even though they no longer sail out of Langley's marina. The club typically meets at the Salt Pond Marina in Hampton, but enjoys the camaraderie sailing offers its members.
"The Langley Yacht Club is one of the older organizations in the area, but times have changed and we are now only loosely associated with the Air Force base," said Barber.
The LYC was founded in 1937, and the Langley AFB Officers' club was one of the primary facilities for the club and its members. In 1984, the yacht club's facility could no longer be funded by the military, and was demolished. However, many stayed on without a club house and remained active. Despite not having a primary location, the club continued to conduct its local regattas, and the solidarity of the club continued to grow.
While nautical activities may seem a bit disconnected with an Air Force base, Herbert said sailing can cross any professional boundaries. In fact, the LYC's next race is the Tri-Services race in September, which involves clubs from the Army, Air Force and (of course) the Navy.
"In the Tri-Services race, the Langley Yacht Club will compete against the Old Point Yacht Club, which is the Army, and the Navy's Norfolk Naval Sailing Association," said Herbert.
For more information about the VWWP, log onto www.WeAreVirginiaVeterans.org