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Your reporter asked Warren Darress for an update on iceboating on Long Island, especially because Manhasset Bay is now frozen solid eliminating frostbiting.

Iceboaters preparing for races on Mecox Bay. Photo taken by Ray Geminski

It has been a late start for iceboating all over the east and elsewhere this year, but the last two weeks on Lake Ronkonkoma and Mecox Bay (Southampton) have been great for some of our Manhasset Bay sailors.

Saturday, Jan. 30, the Lake Ronkonkoma Ice Boat & Yacht Club ran their Long Island Iceboat Championship Regatta on Mecox Bay on several square miles of hard brackish, relatively smooth, ice with some frozen snow hummocks, in a shifty 10 to 15 knot northerly breeze. Out of a collection of almost 50 iceboats of all descriptions and a hundred or more spectators, a wonderful time was had for all.

19 DN Class iceboats raced around a one mile windward-leeward course three laps each for six races. A few of our local wet-water sailors did very well. Gary Knapp took first place, Scott Carlson second, Tom Halsey, a senior Mecox Bay resident, third, Ron Saccardo fourth, while a third-season young lady, Cathy Firmbach of Long Beach, skippered her craft for a fifth place regatta finish. It was interesting to know that neither Gary nor Scott had sailed their boats since the Blizzard of 1996.

Six of the larger Skeeter class iceboats raced five races around the same course. George Neyssen from Connecticut took first place in his powerful A class skeeter Nice & Icy. Rich Geminski from Southampton took second in his B class Yankee skeeter. Warren Darress raced the last race only, in which he took a second in his low-rig C Class skeeter I-C-Fun.

Warren's tardiness was attributed to installing a contraption to assist him in getting out of the narrow cockpit in his maturing years after 66 years of active iceboating.

Only two of the new J-14 Class iceboats raced, with Jonathan Hix of Connecticut taking first place. Four other of this new class raced for club points on their own ice on Orient Harbor.

As well as the great sailing, Warren enjoyed watching one of his former iceboats, M-T-Pockets, sail all day carrying many for their first time iceboat ride. Warren built this while still in high school for sailing on Manhasset Bay, but won many trophies with it in the east.


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