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April 28, 2012 - Making Waves at Fun-Filled Spirit of Sailing Gala

What: 13th annual fundraiser with reception, silent and live auctions, dinner, dancing and entertainment, and presentation of this year's Spirit of Sailing Award

Where: Denver Athletic Club

When: Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time: 6-11 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $100; sponsor tables of 10: $1,000

Beneficiary: Community Spirit of Sailing scholarships

Honoree(s): Sarah and Chris Riopelle, Spirit of Sailing Award recipients

EMCEE: Dave Aguilera, CBS4 meteorologist

Gala Chairperson(s): Chris Oertel

Executive Director: Brandon Kaas

Speaker: Tom Ehman, of America’s Cup Team Oracle Racing and Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club

Music: Gypsy jazzband Sacrebleu!

Sponsors: Title sponsors: KEW Realty Corporation Commercial Real Estate, The Elmore-DeRose Group-RBC Wealth Management, Sunsail; Contributing sponsors: West Marine, Cherry Creek Marina & Yacht Club, America's Cup

Auctioneer: Leroy Nitsch

Menu: Cowboy-rubbed FlatIron steak with gorgonzola and sweet demi-glace; chicken roulade with mushrooms and seasoned croutons, mixed vegetables and red potatoes, cheesecake and chocolate lava cake

Attendance: 200

Attire: Black tie invited

Hors D'Oeuvres:: Passed fruit-and-cheese skewer, chicken-ginger pate, salmon crostini, and bruschetta three ways: olive tapenade, margarita and caprice


Planning Committee: Chris Oertel, gala chair; David Spira, board; Jim Ulstowski, board; Francine Hoffman, volunteer; Robert Wing, volunteer; Brandon Kaas, executive director; Michael Danneck, board; Christina Everist, board; Mike Green, volunteer; Toby Hamer, volunteer

Board of Directors: Jason Williams, board chair; Chris Oertel, secretary; David Spira, vice-chair; Jim Ulatowski, Michael Dannecker, Christina Everist, Christine DeRose, Dan Fesenmeyer, Steve Davis, Treasurer

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 Gala chair Chris Oertel (left) talks with Community Sailing of Colorado's executive director, Brandon Kaas
Gala chair Chris Oertel (left) talks with Community Sailing of Colorado's executive director, Brandon Kaas


On a red-sky night, the 13th annual Spirit of Sailing Gala was indeed a sailor’s delight—so entertaining that any landlubber would consider learning the ropes. Everything was shipshape at the Denver Athletic Club on Saturday, April 28, as around 200 enthusiastic supporters of Community Sailing of Colorado were on board for a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, dinner program and dancing. Money raised was earmarked for equipment and scholarships in conjunction with CSC’s junior- and adaptive-sailing programs. Ardent supporters Sarah and Chris Riopelle were honored as recipients of this year’s coveted “Sprit of Sailing” award.

Amiable emcee and CBS4 meteorologist Dave Aguilera was at the helm for the dinner program that featured a welcome by Community Sailing’s executive director, Brandon Kaas, and event chair Chris OertelTom Ehman, longtime yachting veteran and America’s Cup Campaign rep from Golden Gate Yacht Club (defender of the Cup), showed video footage highlighting racing maneuvers and triumphs that had the crowd riveted. He called sailing an “elite sport—without being elitist,” and talked about the positive core values and education gained by learning to sail. Ehman also previewed the 34th America’s Cup races to be held in San Francisco in 2013.

Community Sailing of Colorado was developed as a registered nonprofit by Steven Frank in 1995 on Standley Lake in Westminster to address the need for a well-organized program to promote and educate kids in the Denver area through sailing. Its mission: “Provide a place, the means and the knowledge for youth to learn and refine the skill and art of sailing in a safe, controlled and fun environment.” The vision remains to motivate youngsters ages 5 to 17 toward reaching their full potential in life, using sailing as a tool, while taking advantage of its inherent qualities to encourage positive growth, self-esteem and behavior.

CSC operates a youth summer sailing program and camp inside the Cherry Creek Marina & Yacht Club, hosts weeklong and two-week “Learn To Sail” camps, plus intermediate and advanced camps, adult classes and a summer drop-In sailing program that allows access to sailing after students learn the basics. Around 200 youngsters participate each year.

The Spirit of Sailing Gala is the group’s largest fundraiser, says CSC Executive Director Brandon Kaas. He admits that Colorado might not be a recognized hotspot for sailing, but cites numerous positive attributes gained by kids who learn to sail: self-confidence, safety, communication, planning, thoughtful decision-making, self-dependence, dependence on crew, trust and other skills that carry on into adult life. The Spirit of Sailing Gala generates $70,000 toward scholarships and sliding-scale fees for those who otherwise might not be able to attend a sailing camp, plus equipment for junior sailing and CSC’s adaptive program. For more information, please visit:


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