By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Bruce Fleming and his 11-year-old son, Andrew, are raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through a family tradition of sailing.
The Rancho Bernardo residents have entered the April 9 Border Run sailing regatta. They plan on competing in the sprint course, a 14-mile route from Newport Beach to Dana Point for dinghies, sailboards, kiteboards, kayaks and paddleboards.
Fleming said he has competed in several races on courses around buoys, but “I’ve never done a long race point-to-point.”
The sprint course is new to the annual race that has a 91-mile challenging international long course that goes from Newport Beach, around Coronado del Norte Island in Mexican waters and returns to U.S. waters for the conclusion near San Diego.
The short course — 70 miles — lets first-timers and smaller boats travel a direct route from Newport Beach to San Diego.
As of March 24, there were 201 entries among the three courses. Of these, 25 teams posted their fundraising totals. The Flemings were in fifth place, having raised $2,110. Race organizers have set a $1 million goal. As of last week, $32,150 was raised according to the race website.
Fleming said most of their money has come from business contacts via an email he sent.
“I’ve never been involved with a fundraising cause before,” he said, adding while he does not have a connection to the blood cancers cause, he has learned many donors do.
To make a donation to the Flemings’ team, go to http://sdhi.theborderrun.llsevent.org by April 4 and enter Akahele as boat name and Bruce Fleming as skipper. Fleming said he is not given names of those making tax-deductible donations, but donors can notify him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for sailing, Fleming said his first time was at a couple weeks old, when his parents put him in a life jacket and brought him on a special sailing outing. It would not have been possible, he added, had he not been born 13 days early.
As for Andrew, he was several months old before Fleming and wife, Shelley, took him on his first sail, the Bernardo Heights Middle School sixth-grader said.
While Andrew is the fourth generation to learn the sport, Fleming said he has not pressured his son to pursue it and entering this race was his decision.
“He is starting to sail at the same time I started to get serious about it,” Fleming said. “When he was little, I hoped and prayed it would be something we could share.
“Last year, we raced in a couple of regattas. He enjoyed it so much the first day, he came back on the second,” Fleming said.
Andrew said he will take his first official sailing lessons this summer when visiting his grandparents in Hawaii. Compared to San Diego, Hawaii has better winds and warmer water, he said.
“I like being on the water, swimming, getting wet. I also like going fast,” Andrew said. “Sailing combines that and it is fun to be out on the water.”
“I really enjoy moving around on the water, where you have a more quiet way to face nature and get around,” Fleming said. “You have a peaceful connection with the world around you.”
He also said sailing is a good way to stay physically fit and to exercise. The family often sails on Lake Hodges on their 14-foot long trimaran with a 22-foot sail, which weighs 220 pounds when rigged. They also sail on San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and around Point Loma and La Jolla.
Their boat is dubbed “Akahele.” The name, which in Hawaiian means “go safely” or “care and caution,” is an “inside joke” to the family, Fleming said. As a teen, his father would remind him to be careful when going out. His mother, to cause less embarrassment, learned saying “akahele” meant the same thing, but his friends would be oblivious to the parental reminder. The trimaran’s bright yellow color reminded Fleming of caution tape and his parents’ reminder decades earlier, he said.