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With $1.7 Million Raised in One Night, RWU Unveils Plans for Sailing Center

Facility will benefit not only nationally ranked sailing team, but local community members via campus, courses, clinics; University hopes to break ground next spring
Photo by: ACTWO Architects, Wayland, Mass.

BRISTOL, R.I. – In one of the most successful fundraising events in university history, Roger Williams University raised $1.7 million during its 10th Annual Captain’s Cup Regatta this Saturday and unveiled plans for a new waterfront Sailing Center to be built on its Bristol campus.

The highlight of the evening came when Richard L. Bready ’08H, chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, donated $1 million toward the project during a live fundraising auction conducted by Joseph M. Brito, Jr., a fellow Trustee. In a tent at the Herreshoff Marine Museum filled with 200 RWU sailing alumni, members of the current team, parents and community supporters, pandemonium erupted. Bready’s gift was quickly followed by a $500,000 pledge from a sailing family from Florida, then a $100,000 gift from an anonymous donor who arranged to have the pledged phoned into the auction. The series of seven- and six-figure gifts were followed by a large number of spontaneous smaller gifts. By the end of the evening, $1.7 million had been raised.

“This new Sailing Center will be a venue of tremendous value to the campus as a whole and to the local community, but it is also absolutely essential for Roger Williams to remain a nationally ranked sailing team,” says University President Donald J. Farish.

“Our objective is to raise the entire $3 million cost of the building through philanthropy, and on Saturday we witnessed an outpouring of support unlike anything I have seen at RWU. Donors clearly share our view that the Sailing Center has transformative potential for a waterfront school. Coupled with the $390,000 raised previously, we stand now at $2.1 million, and we hope to break ground next March. What a spectacular weekend – for the sailing team, the Sailing Center and for Roger Williams University.”

Upon completion, the Sailing Center will offer a home for the University’s sailing team, a coed program started in the late 1970s that in recent years, under the leadership of Coach Amanda Callahan, has become a national powerhouse.

The team achieved the #1 national ranking for the first time in May 2011 and has held the top spot intermittently since then; that month, they became national champions, capturing the 2011 Intercollegiate Sailing Association Team Race National Championship. In the last six years, 10 student-athletes have been named All Americans, and one RWU sailor went on to sail in the Olympics. This year the team earned a berth for the third straight year to the ICSA APS Team Race National Championship and will also compete in the ICSA Sperry Topsider Women’s Championship as well as the ICSA Gill Dinghy Championship in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the end of May. Qualifying for all three ICSA championships is a first for RWU sailing.

Plans for the Sailing Center call for a building that both satisfies functional needs for the team (boat storage, team offices, locker rooms and a repair shop) and celebrates its waterfront location, linking the shoreline and the upper part of the RWU campus, offering access to the entire campus community and including spaces (such as a rooftop viewing platform) ideal for hosting events and welcoming sailing enthusiasts and community members from off campus.

By creating the 6,000-square-foot facility, the University – which each summer hosts sailing camps that operate from the RWU waterfront – hopes to expand on its community-oriented sailing programs, particularly during the summer months. The Sailing Center may be used for events and programs as diverse as competitive regattas, training of high school and collegiate athletes, sailing schools and clinics as well as outreach programs to serve K-12 students.

ACTWO Architects of Wayland, Mass. – founded by Andrew C. Cohen and Thomas W. White, both of whom have strong ties to Roger Williams University – is leading design efforts for the Sailing Center. Cohen is a professor of architecture at the University’s School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, and White earned his bachelor’s degree from the School in 1992.

More information on the RWU sailing team can be found at sailing&path=sailing.