Sailabration: Fundraiser supports sailing program

Howard Livingston
Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 band will be playing the annual fundraiser for the educational foundation’s sailing program on Saturday, March 31. We hear the pig roast will be killer, too! KRISTEN LIVENGOOD/Keys Weekly

Three events are coming up next week for Marathon Yacht Club Educational Foundation’s sailing program, including a kid’s sailing clinic and regatta, and a fundraiser featuring Howard Livingston. In addition, the sailing program is welcoming new instructor Matt Gamel.

Gamel came down on a break to explore the Keys and Dry Tortugas with his fiancée Vikki. “My sailing coach approached me about the open position because he knew I was down here,” said Gamel. “It was an easy decision to stay in the Keys.”

Vikki Nelson, left, and new Marathon Yacht Club Educational Foundation sailing instructor Matt Gamel are enjoying exploring the Keys via their sailboat. CONTRIBUTED

He and Vikki live and travel on their 35-foot 1964 antique Allied Seabreeze. Gamel was a sailing instructor for a nonprofit in Englewood, where he grew up. “I am totally obsessed with sailing and all things water,” he said. He also brings to the boat a master’s degree in marine biology. “I am looking forward to incorporating ecology and conservation into the summer program.”

For the past two years, the educational foundation has sponsored weeklong sailing summer camps to teach children the skill. Students learn everything sailing, from jibing to rope knots.

The camp and the regatta are for students who already have a little sailing experience under their helm and will be taught by Bobby Brookes. “He’s a champion sailor and instructor who loves to teach kids to have fun on the water,” said Betsy Lefler, chair of the foundation. Gamel is getting his feet wet, and is excited to assist in the clinic.

The sunset fundraiser Saturday night is open to the public and will feature Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band fresh off rocking the Marathon Seafood Festival. “I love this event each and every year,” said Livingston, who has played at the fundraiser for five years. “The folks at Marathon Yacht Club are such fun and giving folks and raising money to help the kids is always a feel-good thing.”

Gamel is excited to hear Howard Livingston for the first time and about the Samoan chef known for his authentic pig roasts. “This is a great initiative to get the kids back on the water after the stress of Hurricane Irma,” he said.

Kid’s After School Learn to Race Clinic

March 28-30, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

$20, includes t-shirt and light snack

Race Day Mini Regatta

Saturday, March 31

First warning is at noon

Public is welcome to come watch

For more information, email [email protected] or visit

Annual Benefit Bash Sunset Party

Saturday, March 31, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

$85, music, pig roast, Pusser’s Painkillers

Live auction: a luxury BVI charter; Corvette show accommodations; local fishing charter.

Tickets available at

Kristen Livengood is a Marathon High School and University of South Florida grad, mom of two beautiful little girls, and wife to some cute guy she met in a bar. She enjoys red wine, Tito's, Jameson, running (very, very slowly), and spearfishing.