By Ryan Rindone
Any company which is managed well and provides a valuable good or service can be successful; however, it takes an extra degree of effort to also be a good steward in your community. Yellowfin Yachts has made a habit of giving back, and they have managed to do it with style. When FLocal Magazine interviewed the fine folks at Yellowfin Yachts, they told us all about their philanthropic endeavors, and we were quite impressed.
It is not uncommon for boat builders to receive unusual requests from customers, and Chasten Whitfield was no exception. A young and charismatic angler, Capt. Whitfield recently began her freshman year at the Savannah College of Art and Design and has quite the artistic flair (check her out at @chastenation). When not in class though, she can be found on the water, often on fishing trips with children suffering from sometimes terminal illnesses. Being able to accommodate children with specific needs can be a tall order on a normal day, especially on a smaller boat. The custom bay boat designed by Yellowfin for Capt. Whitfield includes the ability to load and secure a wheelchair – a first for Yellowfin, but a customization they were eager to provide for such a worthy cause.
Among the most exciting ways in which Yellowfin gives back is through the Florida Skiff Challenge, which is a manufacturers-only race from The Bridge Bar and Sunset Lounge in Gulf Breeze, Florida to the Cabin Bluff Lodge near Cumberland Island, Georgia. This grueling 1,500 mile race must be completed in a skiff no longer than 17 feet, with no more than 70 horsepower, and no more than 22 gallons of fuel. Due to the extreme nature of the race, only manufacturers are allowed to compete. Past winners include Yellowfin Yachts and Hell’s Bay Boatworks. Two captains pilot each skiff, taking turns on the arduous journey, while teams of supporters follow the skiffs around Florida with fuel, parts, food, and other essentials.
A mandatory stop at Gilbert’s Marina in Key Largo starts the final leg of the race up Florida’s Atlantic coastline. The Challenge lasts approximately 48 to 60 hours, and truly tests the mettle of Florida’s premium flats skiffs. The race benefits Captains for Clean Water (https://captainsforcleanwater.org/), which raises fund to help save Florida’s bays and estuaries from pollution and other anthropogenic effects. Advocates of Captains for Clean Water know how critical clean water is to the ecosystem, and work with one another to coordinate their efforts to restore vulnerable habitats to their natural, pristine state. The Challenge will field four teams in 2018: Yellowfin Yachts, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Chittum Skiffs, and Panga Marine. Competitors are required to be sponsored for a minimum of $10 per mile, meaning that 2018 will see at least $60,000 raised. This year’s race begins at first light on April 3rd.
Each June, Yellowfin plays host to its namesake owner’s tournament at Hawk’s Cay, located on Duck Key in the beautiful Florida Keys. All expenses are covered by Yellowfin for this owners-only event (except for lodging), and the tournament raises money for children’s charities and scholarships. Further, children are paired with owners and get to fish with them during the tournament. At the conclusion of the competition, the children are asked to write an essay about their experiences during the tournament, and the winners can receive scholarships and other prizes. The entire endeavor focuses on family, and creating lasting memories on the water.
Finally, December sees the Yellowfin Charity Classic – “Fill the ‘Fin” tournament, which is open to all anglers and all boats and is hosted by the Bradenton Yacht Club. The entry fee for the tournament is a toy, donated to Toys for Tots, with the ultimate goal being to fill a 36’ Yellowfin with toys past the gunnels. This tournament has historically been great fun, with catered food, bands, and sponsored prizes like chartplotters and marine decking. A check is donated at the conclusion of the tournament to The Children’s Home Network of Tampa. Visit www.yellowfincharityclassic.com for more information!