Red Sail helps empower Special Olympics athletes

Special Olympics Cayman Islands is taking to the water – on board a luxury catamaran.

The Red Sail Group is expanding its sponsorship of the Special Olympics organization by making a catamaran available monthly for fundraising and social events. Beginning in October, the Special Olympics group will have the boat and crew to use as it sees fit.

The monthly sail is a gift from Red Sail, an affiliation of local companies and long-time supporters of Special Olympics. Red Sail officials say, in addition to a $15,000 financial contribution earlier this year, they wanted to offer a gift that keeps giving.

“A financial donation only goes so far and we want to empower SOCI to help itself and its athletes by other means,” said Rod McDowall, general manager of Red Sail Sports. “Our catamarans are very popular and it’s up to the organization to take this opportunity and run with it – the sky’s the limit.”

McDowall said catamaran sails can bring in up to $2,000, so SOCI can tap into a revenue stream that would add up to $24,000 a year. For a nonprofit organization that relies on volunteers and contributions, the regular use of a luxury catamaran adds a venue for social events.

“It’s tremendous,” said Nick Freeland, chairman of the Special Olympics board of directors. “Clearly, it is a potential revenue stream for us, but I see that as secondary, because it’s important for us to maximize and strengthen our existing relationships with sponsors.”

SOCI enjoys the support of several loyal corporate benefactors who sponsor athletes attending competitions and fund the costs of the SOCI’s annual fundraiser, the Eric Crutchley Memorial Golf Tournament.

“Most nonprofits don’t have the opportunity to give something back,” said coach and volunteer Stuart Knox, who will be responsible for making the most of the catamaran partnership. “We have had years of continued support from our corporate sponsors and this is a huge opportunity to thank them with a gift in return.”

Knox already has creative ideas on how to have fun on board the catamaran, which holds up to 70 people: Murder Mystery on the Sea, Mask Night, karaoke and other activities. Or he says sponsors and their staff can enjoy a relaxing sunset sail.

“We can promote the programs and the needs of SOCI to a captive audience and hopefully recruit volunteers to help, so this will be a great awareness builder,” Freeland said. “At the end of the day, we want to expand our programs and we need volunteers to do that. We don’t just want to write checks, we want our staff to get involved because it’s a hugely worthwhile organization.”

Freeland said in addition to adding programs, they want to bring in younger children who can benefit, but they can only do so with more certified coaches and volunteers. “It takes a lot of work to make SOCI successful, we need a lot of bodies to do the work,” he said.

McDowall said the timing is perfect to launch the catamaran program with the Special Olympics. “Catamaran trips are great for company outings and holiday parties, not only will they treat their employees to a wonderful sail, they’ll be helping a wonderful cause.”