Nantucket Holiday for Heroes
Writer / Amber Kristin
Over Memorial Day weekend, the Indianapolis Sailing Club will be heading to Nantucket Sound to participate in the 44th Annual Figawi Race Weekend. This sailboat race is nationally renowned and attracts over 240 crafts annually, including both sailboats and speed boats. The Indy crew might not have the local edge, but they are unique among the entrants: they’re the only boat which hosts Wounded Warriors as part of its crew.
Bob Solomon joined up with the Indianapolis Sailing Club around 2001. In 2014, an organization called Nantucket Holiday for Heroes asked for one of the boats participating in the race to volunteer to take veterans on board. Solomon says it was a unanimous decision between himself and the other Indianapolis sailors to do so.
The group had already established themselves as legendary patriots among race participants by sailing out and flying the U.S. flag every year before the race began. This year, Solomon says they have more flags honoring all the branches of the U.S. military. His dream is that one day, other boats will follow suit, and a parade of crafts honoring our country’s heroes and history will mark the beginning of the race across Nantucket Sound.
Next weekend the additional sailors will be Army Sergeant Delvin Maston, Marine Sergeant Gabriel Martinez and Marine Lance Corporal Tim Donley. Segreant Maston is a regular participant in the Warrior Games, which accepts only 200 athletes each year. Sergeant Martinez spent a lot of time with those individuals who lost limbs in the Boston Marathon. Lance Corporal Donley is a first-class musician who has even played with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Yo-Yo Ma.
“This isn’t for the warriors to prove they can do the race,” Bob was eager to clarify. “They don’t need to prove that. It’s to honor the flag and the memory of those who didn’t make it home.”
He shared that though the race start is staggered by boat size, the goal is for everyone to arrive in Nantucket at the same time. Last year, the team received second place in their division, and during the awards ceremony, their veteran teammates received a 10-minute long standing ovation.
This year, the conclusion will be even more satisfying for one sailor – Lance Corporal Donley will be staying behind in Nantucket to get married.