The Annapolis area’s Triple Crown of charitable boat racing kicked off with the 13th annual CRAB Cup August 15, attracting several Severna Park residents to compete and fundraise for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB). The other two races are the Leukemia Cup on September 5 and the Hospice Cup on September 19.
CRAB provides accessible sailing opportunities to people with disabilities, injured veterans and at-risk youth.
Despite the pandemic, CRAB gained new sponsors and raised more money this year than it has in the history of the race, up 50% from last year’s race. Eighty-nine boats competed in the event.
This year, a fleet of six of CRAB’s adaptive boats participated in the event, each captained by a person with a disability. Half of the CRAB skippers were veterans.
Built more for stability and safety than speed, the 22-foot CRAB boats usually end up in the back of the pack. But this year’s course and weather conditions provided an ideal environment for them to shine. Five of the six CRAB boats finished in the top 10. The winning boat, CRAB 6, was captained by stroke survivor and retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim McGee. Along with a crew of fellow all-American dinghy sailors who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, McGee sailed into a narrow victory against the Quintet, captained by Severna Park resident Mike Miller, the first time in the history of the race that a CRAB boat has won the cup.
The light current and steady eight-to-10 knot winds that helped the CRAB boats also benefitted the relatively slow Quintet. Miller, a member of the Chesapeake Racer Cruiser Association, has raced in every CRAB race since its inception.
Although he is not going for the Triple Crown this year due to relatively small fundraising, Miller still intends to sail in all three charity races and enjoys competing against the dozens of boats that participate, especially the new and casual racers attracted by the relatively short, simple courses.
“It’s fun to see other people getting out and enjoying racing who don’t usually do that,” Miller said.
Dan Flagler, CRAB’s fleet director, has been racing his boat, the Flagfest, since 2007. For the past three years, he’s raced in all three Triple Crown races. The CRAB Cup is special to him because of the race includes people with disabilities.
“It’s total inclusion in the event,” Flagler said.
Patrick Hylant, captain of the Pegasus, intends to go for the Triple Crown this year, his first time competing in the whole series. For him, the ability to compete as a team with friends is what draws him to the races.
“We can just go out, sail against each other,” Hylant said. “It’s light. Fun. Informal.”
Don Snelgrove, a member of the Round Bay Sailing Association, has been racing since 2002 and has participated in most CRAB Cup races since 2012. The social aspect of racing is important to him.
“I’ve had a chance to meet some really good folks that have become, in some cases, my best friends,” Snelgrove said.
The after-party was canceled and the raffle was made virtual, a difficult decision that CRAB executive director Paul “Bo” Bollinger said was best for the safety of the participants.
“We didn’t want to put our guests in that position,” Bollinger said.
One challenge for the participants this year was figuring out how to fundraise while being unable to meet with people in-person.
“We were heavily reliant on social media this year,” Hylant said.
Normally, Bollinger doesn’t get to see most of the race because he’s busy preparing for the after-party. This year, he was able to motor out into the harbor in his boat with CRAB president Brad LaTour and CRAB title sponsor Rick Volker to see the race for the first time on the water.
“When you see 89 boats doing that and the big boats flying their spinnakers, it’s really a beautiful sight and exciting,” Bollinger said.