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On The Bay: October 10, 2013

Manhasset Bay Yacht Club

35th Annual Fall Series

Our dear friend, John B. Thomson, Jr., a long-time member of the sailing community has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. John and his wife, Adrienne, were the inspiration for the Manhasset Bay Fall Series, started in 1979 to promote big boat racing in Western Long Island Sound when racing conditions were the best (read good wind).  John is also known around the world for his sailing/racing achievements. A few years ago, his three children organized a birthday party for their father, and the place was packed with sailors/racers who came from Newport, the west coast and international harbors to celebrate and honor this remarkable man.

Fundraiser to support ALS Research in conjunction with the ALS Association honoring Fall Series Founder John B. Thomson, Jr. is October 19, 20 and 26, 2013.

Then John became a victim of this vicious disease. Last year, family and friends, sailors and non-sailors joined the Thomson family in May to walk to find a cure for ALS. One thing led to another, and it just made sense to honor John, Jr. at the 2013 Manhasset Bay Fall Series, the very series that John, Jr. founded to honor his father. John won the Thomson Trophy in 1995.  So we are reaching out to all those people whose lives have been touched by John and Adrienne to ask for their support to help fund ALS research to find a cure.  

The Fall Series will have something for everyone. For those racers who want a “rock start” on their boat…we can do that.  You only have to be the highest bidder and the “rock star” is yours for the day. This year’s “rock stars”  include:  Gary Knapp, Suzy Leech, Dawn Riley, Tony Reaper, Ralf Steitz, Chip Whipple. Check out their sailing accomplishments at In addition to the appropriate class trophies and the John B. Thomson Sr. Trophy, there will be a special trophy for the skipper/boat that raises the most for ALS.  

For those who aren’t racing but want to be part of the action, spectator boats are available for front-seat viewing.  Why not spend a day out on Long Island Sound, watching the racing, and checking out how well the “rock start” are doing? Call Manhasset Bay YC at 516-767-2150 to reserve a spot on a boat.

For those who prefer to stay ashore, there is a Tent Party at Manhasset Bay YC  on Saturday Oct. 19, starting immediately at the conclusion of racing (casual dress). For those non-sailors, the party begins at 5 p.m. A silent auction will take place from 5 – 7 p.m.; items include sports memorabilia, wireless speakers that are new to the market racing, Tom Ford bags, plus much more. All will have a chance to hang out with the Pros, eat good food and fundraise for a cause that is close to the hearts of all who know and love JT. Minimum donation for the Tent Party is $20, For tickets call Manhasset Bay YC at 516-767-2150, tickets must be purchased in advance.

John’s racing career is legendary and includes everything from Blue Jays to 50 footers, from short dinghy courses to Bermuda Races, from Ireland to Hawaii to Japan. He was the IMS National Champion in 1989 and an original member of the Farr 40 class and it’s National Champion in 1998. He was twice the overall winner at both STC’s BIRW and Key West RW. John Thomson has contributed to Race Management also. He is a past Commodore of the Storm Trysail Club. He was an America’s Cup supporter from 1980 – 95 and again in 2000. JT is a member of MBYC, but also, Storm Trysail Club, New York YC and the Royal Cork YC.

There’s another accomplishment even more important than all the silverware and pickle dishes. The crew he has mentored over the years is phenomenal: Gary Knapp, Olympian; Scott Ikle, Head Coach of the stellar Hobart Sailing Team; Tony Reaper, professional sailor; 5 America’s Cup Crew, Chuck Brown, Scott Gregory, Rob Myles, Ralf Steitz, and Josh Belsky, who has also sailed the Volvo Ocean Race. To paraphrase a quote from crew member from the 1970’s to the present, Jerry Callahan: “[JT] gave many aspiring yet relatively untalented and undeserving sailors like myself a chance to be part of a world class sailing program. . . I also do not think there was ever a better program with [as few] pros. EVERYONE wanted to be a part of the program, and it was an honor to wear the shirt. “

Now, it is time for us to help JT.  The Fall Series Fundraising Committee (Nancy Cuneo, Paul Cuneo, John Dunne, Randy Fairhurst, Sue Miller, Paul Strauch, Jennifer Thomson, John Thomson, III, Scott Thomson, Vicki Thomson and Andrea Watson) has been hard at work to make this Fall Series the best ever.  So come out and race in this year’s Fall Series and bid to have a “rock star” on your boat or watch the action on a spectator boat. Can’t get out on the water, then come to the party and bid on the silent auction! Can’t do either? Then please consider donating to support ALS research.  Your donation, no matter how big or small, is the least we can do to honor this man who has spent his life caring for others.

For more information on the Fall Series go to