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Another Year – Another Great Model Boat Regatta!

In Port Washington, if it is the first Sunday in June, then it must be the Chamber of Commerce’s Harbor FEST. And a wonderful part of this annual event is the Model Boat Regatta. For sailors and landlubbers alike, it just doesn’t get better than this! Take all the third-grade children in our area, introduce them to sailing by teaching them how to build their own boat, add in some nautical terms and sailing theory, and end the “teachable moment” with a real regatta with a starting sequence, crowds of friends, families and classmates – and you get the idea of “the happening” over at Baxter Estates on the morning of June 7.

This year, the Model Boat regatta broke all records. In addition to all the third-grade classes in the public school system, St. Peter’s joined the festivities again this year and with the addition of the Chabad School of Port Washington, 438 children built a boat that actually sails. These little catamarans made out of milk cartons, had rudimentary adjustments just like the real boats raced out on Manhasset Bay. Each child could set their sail according to the wind, but because they did not have remote controls, and were obviously not on board their little boats, children had to adjust their mainsail before the race and hope for the best. In years past, there has been so little wind that adjusting the main didn’t make much difference. But this year, there was wind – compliments of Eugene Pagliano, and the Port Washington Fire Department. What a grand idea! If there is no wind, call in the fire department with fans that propelled these little boats to the finish line. While tampering with Mother Nature is somewhat risky, any fear of her retaliation was overridden by the children’ excitement. Watching their boats tack back and forth (and sometimes capsize), it was a delight to see the excitement and joy on each child’s face as their little boat got a chance to race to the finish line.

Lest readers think that this sounds all too competitive for young children, rest assured that the emphasis on the regatta was to have fun, generate school spirit and enjoy a morning of sailing. Again this year, there was a Team Spirit Trophy for the school that had the most children participating, based on the percentage of total number of third-graders in each school. The winner of the 2009 Team Spirit Trophy went to the Chabad, which had 14 of 20 children participating in the regatta. That is 70 percent, the highest percentage yet of any school. Congratulations to our newest participant!

The results of the 2009 Model Boat Regatta (school, winner, boat number, teacher): Daly: Jason Genzano, #86, Ms. Joan Andors; Guggenheim: Gusmary Rodrigues, #185, Mrs. Barbara Keller; Manorhaven: Evan Cohen, #242, Ms. Andrea Scannell; Salem: Aidan Seiden, #310, Mrs. Gail Martin; Sousa: Emily Kraus, #28, Mrs. Karen Silver; St. Peter’s: John Sarcona, #374, Mrs. Sandra Sperrazza; and Chabad: Magny Nabavian, #411, Mrs. Helen Greenblatt.

The top three winners of the Model Boat regatta, which was determined by a semifinal with the winners from each school: Grand Champion: Emily Kraus, Boat #28, Sousa, Mrs. Karen Silver; First Runner-up: Aidan Seiden, Boat #310, Salem, Mrs. Gail Martin; and Second Runner-up, Jason Genzano, Boat #86, Daly, Ms. Joan Andors.

Thanks are due to the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Geoffrey Gordon, and all the elementary schools that participated this year. A big thanks to: Daly: Ms. Elaine Ajello, principal, and teachers Ms. Joan Andors, Mrs. Karen Bachor, Ms. Rachel Bresnick, Mrs. Kathy Mattia, and Mrs. Laura McLaughlin. Guggenheim: Mrs. Barbara Giebel, principal, Mrs. Donna Derlu, Mrs. Debbie Hart, Mrs. Barbara Keller, and Mrs. Kerri Tarasenko. Manorhaven: Mrs. Bonni Cohen, principal, Ms. Diane Haut, Ms. Heena Ramolia, and Ms. Andrea Scannell. Salem: Mr. Chris Shields, principal, Mrs. Lisa Castillo, Ms. Alisson Madden, Mrs. Gail Martin, and Mrs. Andrea Schieck. Sousa: Dr. David Meoli, principal, Mrs. Emily Baxter, Ms. Mary Ann Leonard, Mr. Chuck Mellen, and Mrs. Karen Silver. St. Peter’s: Mr. Sean O’Connell, principal, Mrs. Barbara Mucciolo, and Mrs. Sandra Sperrazza. Chabad: Ms. Robyn Mandor, principal, Ms. Janet Grabowski, director of operations, and Mrs. Helen Greenblatt, third-grade teacher.

Another group of thanks is due to the volunteers who spend tons of time teaching the children to build their model boats. While the joy and pride shown on each child’s face is more than enough thanks, here is the list of dedicated volunteers who made it so much fun for the children (and teachers), starting with the co-chairpersons who organized the classroom visits, Arlene Kase and Marion Weissman. They were helped by: Bill Brakman, Leo Cimini, Debbie Cohen, Jim Cowles, Gerry Day, Mary Dembala, Grace Edwards, Barbara Gaticone, Nancy Kovach, Frank LoPresti, Mary Ellen McCollum, Jeanne Miller, Alice O’Leary, Brigitte Mueller, Richard Raskin, Fern Treiber, Giulio Varsi, Seymour Walzer, Don Peskin, Maureen Yorke and Bill Palafox.

The PRO for the regatta was Bill Palafox, and the RC chair was Bill Brakman. Helpers on the day of the regatta: Alexandra Caliendo, Andrea Watson, Arlene Kase, Arthur Donovan, Ben Cotillera, Brigitte Mueller, Connor Gzcrinski, Dave Goldsmith, Dave James, Guilly Garcia, Helene Goldsmith, Herman Cardonna, Jayne Brooks, Jean Miller, Joan Brakman, Joe Mayer, Eugene Pagliano and John Popeleski (Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company who provided the fans which provided wind ), Josephine Chiofalo, Kathleen Cotillera, Ken Fink, Ken Magida, Marian Weissman, Mary Lu Dempsey, Maureen Troy, Michael Rufrano, Robert Coles, Sandra Garcia, Seymour Walzer, Sheila Troy, Tom Turner and Victor Garcia.

One cannot provide a regatta of this size without the help of sponsors. This year’s sponsors for the regatta included: The Tepper Intergenerational Program of the Port Washington Public Library for the regatta T-shirts; Benefactors: Councilman Fred Pollack and the Nautical Advisory Council of the Port Washington Public Library. Major Sponsors: Manhasset Bay Sailing Foundation, Manhasset Bay YC, North Shore YC, Port Sailing School, Port Washington YC and Restaurant Yamaguchi, plus many generous Chamber of Commerce members.

Last, but definitely not least, are the wonderful people at the Chamber of Commerce that took a concept about celebrating our beautiful waterfront and turned it into a terrific day of celebration. Executive Director Bobbie Polay, Co-Presidents Richard Strautman and Warren Schein, and the entire board of the chamber all pitched in to make the first Sunday in June a most memorable one. Thank you to all!