Sunday, June 1 was not any ordinary Sunday. It was the first Sunday in June and that meant it was time to celebrate our waterfront at the annual PW Chamber of Commerce HarborFest. And celebrate we did! While record numbers were enjoying activities down by the Town Dock, almost 170 third-grade children, with their families and assorted dogs in tow, were over at the Mill Pond for an exciting morning. For today was regatta day - the culmination of hours of work building, decorating and naming their little model boats made out of recycled materials. The regatta couldn't start soon enough for some, as they arrived way before registration time, catamaran in hand, eager to race. Let the games begin!
Excitement and anticipation filled the air as each of the children, along with parents, friends, arrived at the registration table. This year St. Peter's third-grade children joined in the festivities, making the event a truly wonderful day. What fun it was to watch as each child held their boat high to receive their "official boat number." Then to add to the excitement, each child received a gold sticker placed on their colorful participation certificate, entitling them to a free kayak lesson, compliments of John Thomson at Atlantic Outfitters. By the time the volunteers finished registering each boat and sending the young sailor off with a cheery, "good luck, skipper!" the kids could hardly contain their enthusiasm.
It was Daly School up first. Eager children gathered at the edge of the pond as their school was announced and handed over their boats to members of the Race Committee who placed their masterpieces in the starting block. Parents and siblings were mixed in with the sailors, some with cameras to capture the scene for posterity. The moment all have been waiting for finally arrived. As the countdown began, the children all chimed in (actually screamed) the final seconds "...5...4...3...2...1", and the catamarans were off! With good wind on the Mill Pond, this was one of the best regattas ever. Mother Nature was good to us this day. She provided just enough wind to give the boats a real chance to sail to the finish line. The young racers shouted encouragement from the side, and it was all the volunteers could do to keep them out of the water. Their enthusiasm (read energy), if captured, could probably light all of Port Washington for a very long time.
While the regatta may sound competitive, the emphasis is on having fun, generating school spirit and getting a little understanding about how a "real" regatta is run. In fact, this year for the first time, the HarborFest Model Boat Regatta Committee awarded a new trophy. The Team Spirit Trophy is for the school that has the most children participating in the regatta, based on the percentage of total number of third graders in each school. The winner of the Team Spirit Trophy for 2008 was Daly Elementary, with 51 percent participation. Congratulations to the Daly children and families, Principal Mrs. Ajello, Grade Level Leader Kathy Mattia, and to the third-grade teachers: Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. Andors, and Mrs. Mattia.
In addition to the Team Spirit Award, there was another first this year. Each child who participated in the regatta received a beautiful blue t-shirt, compliments of the Tepper Intergenerational Program of the Port Washington Library Foundation. These were a big hit with the children and a wonderful new addition to the regatta.
The results of the 2008 Chamber of Commerce Model Boat Regatta: Daly: #99, Sofie Germain; Guggenheim: #162, John Fenton; Manorhaven: #238, Ryan Perlman; Salem: #300 Henry Burns; Sousa: #6, Joseph Hill; and St. Peter's: #369 Gerard Deangelis, Matthew Corinaldes, James Frankel and Sean McIntyre. The winners of the Finals: 1. #238, Ryan Perlman, 2. #6, Joseph Hill, and 3. Sofie Germain
Top three winners: 1. #217, Samuel Goldman (Manorhaven), and 2. #089, Rachel Brandes, (Daly) and 3. #299, Michaela Asaro (Salem).
Thanks are due to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey Gordon, and the principals of all six elementary schools who supported the regatta. Special thanks go to the third grade Level Leaders, who, in addition to all their "extra-curricular" activities, found the time to work with volunteers to develop the classroom training sessions. So a big thanks go to: Kathy Mattia, Daly; Kerry Tarasenko, Guggenheim; Nina Chin, Manorhaven; Mary Ann Leonard, Sousa; Allie Madden, South Salem; and Sandra Sperrazza, St. Peter's. Another big thank you goes to each third-grade teacher and their principals who so graciously greeted each volunteer who arrived with boxes of materials to spend a couple of hours with the children teaching them about boat building and sailing terminology. The regatta could not have been the success it was without your support! Thanks to: Daly: Mrs. Elaine Ajello, principal, Mrs. McLaughlin, Ms. Andors, Mrs. Mattia; Guggenheim: Mrs. Barbara Giebel, principal, Mrs. Cunningham, Mrs. Hart, Mrs. Grennan, and Mrs. Tarasenko; Manorhaven: Dr. Piemonte, principal, Ms. Chin, Ms. Haut, Mr. Lennon, and Ms. Scannell; South Salem: Mr. Christopher Shields, principal, Mrs. Madden, Mrs. Martin, and Mrs. Taranto; Sousa: Dr. David Meoli, principal, Mrs. Leonard, Mr. Mellen, and Mrs. Parendo; and St. Peter's: Mr. O'Connell,pPrincipal, Mrs. Mucciolo and Mrs. Sperazza.
Additional thanks to all the volunteers who made The PW Chamber of Commerce HarborFest Model Boat Regatta a true community effort. Special mention needs to be made as several people did an enormous amount of work in planning and executing the regatta. Bill Brakman, a long-time sailor and racer here in Manhasset Bay, had the not -so -enviable job of cutting and assembling all the boat pieces for each child. He had great assistance from Mary Lu Dempsey and the two of them spent hours on this. When you think of the number of children (450) times the number of pieces per boat (approximately 20), by classroom (21), you can get the picture of the enormity of this project Andrea Watson organized the classroom training calendar, taught two "train the trainer" sessions. And Bill Palofax was the PRO for the regatta. And hats off to Warren Schein, Debbie Greco, Bobbie Polay and all the folks at the Chamber of Commerce and the HarborFest Committee, in particular, who helped in the planning of not only the regatta, but the entire HarborFest celebration.
This year the major sponsors of the regatta are the Tepper Intergenerational Program of the Port Washington Library Foundation, the Nautical Center of the Port Washington Public Library, Manhasset Bay Sailing Foundation, Atlantic Outfitters, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, North Shore Yacht Club and Port Sailing School. Additional financial support came from the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, the Sousa Home and School Association and many generous Chamber of Commerce members.