A Message from the Derby President

Derby President, John Custer
Derby Committee members Joe El-Deiry, David Hearn, Greg Skomal, and John Custer at the 2021 Fluke For Luke event

On behalf of the thirty-five men and women who proudly serve on the Derby Committee, welcome to the 76th anniversary of this storied event.

Our plans to celebrate the 75th Derby were compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, our organization was pleased to safely put on an event that the island community needed. Thank you for supporting or efforts and helping to make the 2020 Derby memorable and positive, despite the many challenges. You affirmed that the Derby is one of the most important parts of our community, and that even during adversity, it is something that people need and support. We are sincerely grateful.

As we look to the 2021 Derby, know that the Derby Committee has continued to meet regularly to organize and facilitate an event that remains mindful of public health and safety. As spring and summer approached, we felt more optimism about returning to more "normal" conditions. We recognize how much the Derby means to our participants and island community, and we take the responsibility of planning the event very seriously. In this regard, we consider all interests, needs, and opportunities. A year ago, we struggled with uncertainty. We learned a lot, and have used these lessons to try to strengthen our organization and event.

In 2021, the Derby awarded a record-high $76,000 to nine Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduates. The Derby Scholarship Program continues to remain at the core of our efforts. Since 1987, over $750,000 has been awarded through this program. Any mention of the Derby scholarships deserves acknowledgement of Ed Jerome for his vision, leading to its creation. Highlighting the program is the Edward J. Jerome Memorial Scholarship. The 2021 recipient of this award was Jacob Gurney. The Gurney family holds a special place in the hearts of the Derby family, as Jacob's father Luke was an avid fisherman who modeled much of what the Derby promotes, especially in sharing a love of fishing with children.

The Derby is grateful to Eastern Boats for its support as a Grand Prize sponsor. As well, we appreciate the unparalleled generosity of Vineyard Vines for its long-time sponsorship.

This backing allows the Derby to enjoy success and offer an exceptional experience to participants.

Together, we enthusiastically welcome the 76th Derby - for many reasons. As you enjoy the coming five weeks of the event, thank you for remaining mindful of the values the Derby promotes. Practice good sportsmanship, offer help to fellow anglers, be safe, protect the island's natural beauty, and remember that it's not all about catching fish. Here's to a great five weeks.

Sincerely,

John Custer
President, Derby Committee