- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Still winds may have scuttled the competition at Saturday’s Hospice Cup races on Chesapeake Bay, but the dearth of sailors’ delight didn’t affect the bottom line of the country’s largest and most profitable charity regatta.

This year, the all-volunteer event raised a record $600,000 for eight area hospices — which suited organizers just fine, even if the day’s breeze wouldn’t have blown a paper sailboat across a garden pond.

VIP guests on board Hospice Cup Chairmen Joan and Albert Van Metre Sr.’s magnificent Silver Seas were content to relax in air-conditioned comfort when the 107-foot oceangoing motor yacht dropped anchor after cruising a mile or so offshore for a privileged view of the start of the 24th annual race.

At first, there was plenty to watch as a flotilla of Hinkleys, Pearsons, Tartans, C&Cs;, J-Boats and Beneteaus, plus maxi custom craft like Jim Muldoon’s 80-foot Donnybrook (with 15 in crew), positioned to take their starting places.

But that was it in terms of sailing action. Soon the race was called off and would-be competitors and observers alike were headed back to port.

“At least there’s a shore event to look forward to,” one disgruntled younger salt said, putting his binoculars back in their case as a stewardess passed him a glass of Chablis on Silver Seas’ sleek upper deck. “Maybe they’ll give a trophy to the hardest drinking crew.”

Local restaurants provided an icy bed of blue point oysters, salads, sandwiches and, yes, a full bar to close out the day at the after-party on the banks of the Severn River near the U.S. Naval Academy.

Sailors in shorts, women in halter tops and a contingent of buff midshipmen in white uniforms mingled under the same white tent to help a newlywed couple celebrate with toasts, dancing and cake. (The groom, Cullen Murray, a longtime Hospice Cup patron, said that he and his bride, Ailsa, decided to “share their special day with an organization that was very special as well” after discovering the conflict in dates.)

The day was also a combination of two well-beloved things for Dr. J. Cameron Muir, a lifelong sailor who treats seriously ill patients at Capital Hospice in Falls Church. His facility treats around 4,500 patients each year (97 percent at home) and the day’s proceeds help ensure that he never has to turn anyone away, regardless of their inability to pay.

Kevin Chaffee

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