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Stephen C. Smith Memorial Regatta happens this weekend at Shell Point

Natural North Florida
Last year's regatta took place in late summer rather than spring because of COVID

One of the area's longest-running charitable events returns to Wakulla County's Shell Point this weekend. The event is in memory of a well-known local sailor who died of a rare form of leukemia. Kristin Korinko is the chair of this year's Stephen C. Smith Memorial Regatta.

"This particular regatta that benefits the American Cancer Society was started many years ago in the honor and memory of Steve Smith, who was an avid sailor who fought and unfortunately lost the battle of cancer/leukemia."

Korinko said Smith's many sailing buddies and others who knew him were determined to turn his story into something that would help others.

"The local community at that point was made up of the Apalachee Bay Yacht Club and the Shell Point Sailboard Club. They pulled together and decided that moving forward this annual regatta that had taken place was going to be in his memory and honor and was something that would benefit the very entity that helped provide life-sustaining and life-saving services for so many folks who were also affected by the silent killer of cancer."

This is the 49th year the regatta named in Smith's honor has taken place. Although Korinko says the pandemic did change the event's format a bit during the past couple of years.

"During the pandemic in 2020, we didn't have the regatta that we typically have. And we still were able to give proceeds to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Last year, we had to kick the can down the road a little bit. And instead of having our annual event, which typically takes place at the end of April, we actually had it in June last year and we were able to give the American Cancer Society the biggest donation in the history of the regatta."

But it's this time of the year, said Korinko, that generates the kind of wind action that true sailors covet. So the racing action in the waters off Shell Point this weekend is expected to be exciting.

"All types of water vessels, including wind surfing, hobie cats, and catamarans. And it's a beautiful thing to see all of the water vessels taking to the sea in the morning in a friendly, amicable racing event."

It's an event that includes many other activities beyone the racing.

"We'll have that taking place both Saturday and Sunday all day pretty much. And we have food and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday night. And it culminates on Sunday with the live and silent auction that takes place beginning around 11 a.m. at the conclusion of the racing and the awards."

In addition to a profound reminder of what the whole thing is about.

"And one of the best events that happens during the regatta is the lighting of the luminaries and we also talk with folks who have been positively affected and benefited from the programs in the community that are funded by the American Cancer Society."

A complete schedule of the weekend's activities, as well as tributes to those who have been involved with the regatta, can be found here.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.