Spring Boat Show in Essex Raises Money Toward a Good Cause

Sophia Muce, CT Examiner

Bob Davis leaving the marina office to rejoin the boat show (CT Examiner)

ESSEX – Local boaters and vendors overlooked weekend-long wind and rain at the Connecticut Spring Boat Show in hopes of raising $30,000 for Sails Up 4 Cancer.

Boaters from across New England traveled to Safe Harbor Essex Island last weekend for WindCheck Magazine’s seventh annual in-water boat show which, this year, featured local vendors, musicians and maritime and fishing talks.

But for Bob Davis, the founder of Sails Up 4 Cancer, the show was also an opportunity to reconnect with cancer patients and survivors.

Escaping the rain for a moment, he sat inside the marina office on Saturday and told CT Examiner about an old friend he ran into a few moments prior. About a year ago, Davis recalled, he received a call from his friend who told him that he had terminal prostate cancer.

“He told me he wanted to live long enough to see his daughter get married,” Davis said.. “And so I talked to him, gave him some advice about second opinions.”

Davis said he also reminded his friend, Chris, that his only job was to take care of himself, and suggested holistic approaches like meditation and yoga. When he saw Chris on Saturday, Davis said, they embraced and caught up.

“Basically, he just had his tests done two weeks ago, and the doctors say he’s a miracle. They can’t see any cancer,” Davis smiled. “And he said, ‘Bob, I can’t thank you enough.’”

A two-time cancer survivor himself, Davis founded Sails Up 4 Cancer in 2011 to help fund cancer education, prevention and care. He said the organization used to donate to cancer research, but recently shifted his focus to holistic solutions.

“We can only make a small dent in research, as opposed to what the billionaires do,” he said. “It’s really about education, prevention and cancer care.”

Davis said the organization holds sailing events to fundraise for programs like the Spinnaker Fund, which donates money to those with cancer who may be struggling to pay for their bills, groceries or medicine. 

A spinnaker, Davis explained, is a sail made to travel in the same direction as the wind.

“When the wind’s behind your back, you have to have all sails out or you’re gonna go nowhere,” Davis said. “The Spinnaker Fund metaphor is ‘we have your back when all else fails.’”

He said it is important that Sails Up 4 Cancer works to improve cancer patients’ quality of life, as he believes stress and uncertainty destroy immune systems.

In addition to the Spinnaker Fund, the organization also hosted an event for seven years with Sunshine Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer. Davis chartered a sailboat for the children and traveled down the Mystic River to watch the Sails Up 4 Cancer Regatta, eat pizza and paint. Later in the day, the group would go out for ice cream and visit Mystic Aquarium.

“I’m talking about 40 kids,” Davis said. “…A lot of kids had to back out at the last minute because they became sick with their chemo. A lot of the kids, I found out later, didn’t make it.”

Davis teared up as he recounted his time with the children, which he said came to a halt because of the pandemic. Sarah Wadle, the owner of First Position Media, sat beside Davis. She asked him what the organization needed to restore the Sunshine Kids event. 

Volunteers and donations, Davis responded.

Wadle told CT Examiner that when the Connecticut Spring Boat Show first began, admission was free and a small percentage of the food sales went towards Sails Up 4 Cancer.

“We really wanted to double down on raising more money for Sails Up 4 Cancer… They do tremendous work,” Wadle explained. “So we implemented a charge, and now we donate 50 percent of the ticket sales.”

Wadle said she got involved in the event about six years ago, as Windcheck Magazine, a monthly editorial for Northeast sailors and boaters, was looking for a local agency to help promote the show.

“[The show] was really to bring together the boat industry in Connecticut,” Wadle said. “Instead of having boat brokers have their own individual mini shows, it was to get a group and really support the industry.”

She said the staff implemented the maritime talks and live performances to attract a variety of people to the show. Each year, the event generally brought in anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 people.

This year, Wadle said, the show was sponsored by businesses like Hoffman Audi of New London, Essex Boat Works, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, The Griswold Inn and Avelo Airlines, who donated three pairs of round-trip tickets to raffle off. She also highlighted the many vendors that attended the event.

“We have some really unique vendors, too, this year,” Wadle said. “There’s just kind of a nice variety.”

One vendor, Melissa Kalicin, sat beside colorful bags and cushions. She told CT Examiner that her company, Oceanum Vela, launched only six months ago. It was her first time at the show. 

Kalicin repurposes authenticated race sails – akin to the spinnakers that inspired Davis’s successful fund – and lines to create the ocean-friendly bags.

“A percent of proceeds do go to ocean conservation,” she said. “I’m very mission driven.”

Displays ranged from Kalicin’s eco-friendly bags to wood-burnt signs to local, draft beer, and vendors sat beneath tents to avoid the rain. While attendance was lower than they’d hoped, they all said the same of the boat show – “it’s for a good cause.”

The Connecticut Spring Boat Show is raising funds for a good cause

ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) — Poor weather won’t stop the Connecticut Spring Boat show from returning to Essex in the last weekend of April. 

The seventh annual Connecticut Spring Boat Show is happening this weekend at Safe Harbor Essex Island and they are partnering with Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C) to make this year’s boat show help more people than ever. 

SU4C is a non-profit founded by lifelong sailor and Leukemia survivor Bob Davis that supports cancer care, education, prevention and research. They’ve been partners in the boat show since its start and they hope to top last year’s $23,000 in donations. 

The event’s media representative, Sarah Wadle, says that the rain won’t stop any of the festivities that they have planned. The seminars from fishing experts and bands will be moved indoors or under tents. 

For those unable to attend the boat show but would still like to support, tickets are available online at https://www.windcheckmagazine.com/shop/. Everyone who purchases a ticket is entered into a raffle to receive a pair of free roundtrip tickets to a chosen destination with Avelo Airlines, according to Wadle. Half of all proceeds go to SU4C.


Watch the video:

Holmgren Subaru Awards Over $12k to Sails Up 4 Cancer

Sails Up 4 Cancer is ecstatic to be the beneficiary of over $12,000 from Holmgren Subaru. Holmgren Subaru is a community-minded dealership. Because of this incredible gift from the Holmgren Subaru Share the Love campaign, Sails Up 4 Cancer can continue uninterrupted grant funding through the Spinnaker fund. Financially-stressed cancer patients can apply for the Spinnaker fund to assist with day-to-day needs like groceries, rent and medical expenses. The collaboration with Holmgren Subaru and the annual Share the Love Campaign allows SU4C to provide funding for families and patients. Holmgren Subaru has been integral in the success of the Spinnaker Fund which SU4C is extremely proud of. This Fund has been specifically tailored to individuals and families suffering financial hardship as a result of the loss of income due to their struggles with cancer. Sails Up realizes that the last thing a cancer patient needs is additional stress. There are not many places to go for assistance and Sails Up, with Share the Love revenue fills this void.

“The Holmgren team and family have long been supporters of Sails Up 4 Cancer. We appreciate the organization for its unique niche in bringing much needed financial support directly to cancer patients and not through a third party,” said Eric Holmgren, president of Holmgren Subaru. Eric Holmgren is an avid boater and dear friend to Bob Davis, President and founder of SU4C. Davis is a two-time cancer survivor and has an intimate relationship with cancer and cancer patients. Eric, and his wife Dawn, along with the Holmgren Family and the staff at Holmgren Subaru, believes that because of Davis’ experience with two cancers and his personal empathy with the agony that patients endure, he is the perfect person to address their needs. Having lived through the stress of cancer and loss of income, Davis is in a formidable position to support those suffering with the hidden effects and stress that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

Tom Holmgren was also presented with a Golden Jubilee award in recognition for fifty years of service to Subaru. His years of dedication are part of what makes Holmgren Subaru a special and community-oriented dealership.

“We cannot just provide lip service to those in need of financial assistance. We must heed the call and respond effectively and efficiently in sending financial relief ,” explained Davis, “Imagine receiving a check from Sails Up 4 Cancer. Not a check large enough to cure your cancer or pay off your mortgage or satisfy all your bills. But maybe just enough to alleviate some financial stress – maybe just enough to know there is an organization that identifies with your issues and is here to help. Some people feel forgotten, helpless and lose all hope. Sails Up 4 Cancer is here and cares deeply.


For Further information: Bob Davis, Sails Up 4 Cancer • Rdavis@su4c.org • www.su4c.org

The Importance of the Breast Biopsy

Annual mammograms and any recommended biopsies are crucial to identifying breast cancer early, and early detection can lead to better outcomes.

Middlesex Health uses a special breast biopsy system to perform stereotactic, ultrasound and MRI-guided biopsies at its Radiology locations. These image-guided biopsies allow the radiologist to obtain a small tissue sample for laboratory testing and are less invasive than  a surgical biopsy. 

Using computer guidance, these biopsies can pinpoint the exact location of a breast abnormality, are less invasive than a surgical biopsy and leave little scarring and require minimal recovery time. In addition, image-guided biopsies can be performed in less than an hour, and a small marker is left in place to easily identify the previously biopsied areas on future mammograms.

“Image-guided biopsies are a crucial part of breast cancer screening and diagnosis,” says Dr. Sarah O’Connell, a radiologist and chief of breast imaging at Middlesex Health. “Biopsies identify whether cancer is present and help ensure that appropriate treatment begins as soon as possible.”   

At Middlesex Health’s Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, a component of the breast biopsy system was at the end of its life and no longer supported by its manufacturer. It needed to be replaced, and that’s where Sails Up 4 Cancer came in. 

Sails Up 4 Cancer is a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut that is dedicated to funding research in the education, prevention, care and cure for all types of cancer through the art and enjoyment of sailing. It generously covered the $20,000 cost, which paid for Middlesex’s new breast biopsy system, as well as the needles that are needed to use it. 

Sails Up 4 Cancer raised the money during a charity regatta on the Connecticut River that was organized by five local sailing organizations: Essex, Essex Corinthian, Duck Island, Frostbite and Pettipaug Yacht Club. It also raised money at the Connecticut Spring Boat Show in Essex.

Bob Davis, CEO and founder of Sails Up 4 Cancer, is a two-time cancer survivor and thanks Ruth Emblin and Carter Gowrie for helping to raise money for this project. They played significant roles in the 2022 Gowrie Group Connecticut River One-Design Regatta, and their dedication and fundraising skills enabled them to help Sails Up 4 Cancer support Middlesex Health in this way. Overall, the collective efforts of the participating yacht clubs, the Sails Up 4 Cancer Board of Directors and the Connecticut Spring Boat Show in Essex made this grant possible.

Davis applauds Middlesex Health for earmarking this donation to enhance the health system’s ability to diagnose breast cancer with the image-guided biopsy system.

Middlesex Health performs about 130 image-guided breast biopsies at its Shoreline Medical Center each year and is grateful to Sails Up 4 Cancer for its support.

“Identifying, treating and beating cancer is a collaborative effort,” says Ryann Nocereto, director of Middlesex Health Cancer Center. “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, and Sails Up 4 Cancer’s support will go a long way in ensuring that Middlesex Health patients get the care they need when they need it for many more years to come.”

More About Mammograms and Breast Biopsies

It is recommended that all women 40 and older get routine mammograms. If you have a high risk of breast cancer, a medical provider may recommend that screening begin at a younger age.

It is important to note that the state of Connecticut recently expanded insurance coverage for follow-up testing recommended after a mammogram, including breast biopsies. In the past, additional testing often resulted in out-of-pocket costs for patients. Beginning in January, this changed. Commercial insurance carriers can no longer impose cost-sharing measures on certain services. Please check with your insurance provider if you have specific questions about your coverage.