For sailing enthusiasts, there’s nothing like a regatta.

Even if SailMaine’s choice to hold a summer regatta rather than a winter gala last year was pandemic-related, it was a resounding success, with 33 boats and over 100 competitors raising $54,000 for the nonprofit’s scholarship and community sailing programs.

“It’s going to be annual and the premiere Casco Bay regatta,” said event organizer Michele Smith of North Yarmouth. “But we also thought that this year, we’d have a kickoff party in March to get people psyched about summer and this year’s regatta.”

A few dozen SailMaine supporters, many of whom have sailed together for decades, gathered March 3 at Rising Tide Brewing Co., one of the sponsors of the 2022 festival and regatta planned for Aug. 13.

“Tonight is about generating interest, sharing information and saying, ‘Thank you,’” said SailMaine Executive Director Michael McAllister. “As soon as you register, you can start fundraising. This is about scholarships for community programs to make sailing accessible for people who might not be able to afford sailing or never thought they could. People of all abilities.”

Last year, SailMaine provided $29,675 in need-based scholarships for summer camps and high school sailing. In addition, SailMaine runs several free community programs for underserved communities: City Sailors, the Down East Adventure, Family Community Sails and the Horizons Adaptive Sailing program.


“Sailing seems like a sport with a high barrier to entry,” said Tom Wells of Portland. “But people who own boats need someone to sail with them. And SailMaine is working to make it accessible for anybody to learn to sail.”

Many describe learning to sail as a transformational experience.

“When kids get out on the water, they develop confidence, grow autonomy and build self-sufficiency,” said board member Chris Moore, whose 12-year-old son, Oliver, races an Opti, a single-handed dinghy.

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Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at

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