The 2023 Mayor’s Cup Regatta & Charity Celebration benefiting Save The Great South Bay, a local environmental nonprofit, took place on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Long Island Yacht Club, located in Babylon Village directly on the Great South Bay with views to the Robert Moses bridge.
This event celebrates (and helps fund) the efforts and achievements of Save The Great South Bay’s volunteers in their work to restore and protect water quality in the Great South Bay.
It was a hot and steamy race. Just before the starting sequence, a small, dark cloud rolled through Babylon, dropping a few sprinkles but didn’t last long before the sun was out and it was very hot. The humidity was high and the wind was light, around 8 knots. John Davis and his Race Committee crew did a wonderful job, starting the three divisions of racers. First off was the Spinnaker division with four boats battling to keep their Spinnakers full and the boats moving in the light breeze.
The second group over the starting line was the Non-Spinnaker boats, with a tight pack battling upwind towards the first mark. The cruising division was the final one to start as the wind started to slightly drop out. The downwind leg from the Babylon cut 9 buoy to Bay Shore was a long and hot sail under the Robert Moses Bridge and down the bay. The racers were getting sweaty while the two photo boats were buzzing around, working the best angles for their pictures.
The upwind leg from Bay Shore back to Babylon was a bit of a struggle for many boats, as they searched for wind that was being blocked by the bridge. After a tack or two for most boats, it was a nice beam reach sail toward the finish line after passing under the bridge. They had a total of 10 boats race this year, with many boats not attending due to the possibility of rain and the forecast for very light wind.
The celebration began at 4 p.m. with the Rockin’ 45s band setting the fun-filled mood with classic party tunes as guests were treated to delicacies generously donated by Verde Restaurant and Coastal Kitchen of Bay Shore, along with fresh oysters and clams from Captree Clam, all washed down with ice-cold beer from Blue Point Brewing. The Pizzeria in Bay Shore and Southside Fish & Clam tables were popular, with not a morsel left behind.
Todd Shaw, president, welcomed over 100 guests including sailors, volunteers, and other friends of the organization, such as Paul Bany from C2G Environmental, Albert Poulos of Jetsam Salvage, and the Striplin’s from Island Yacht Sales.
Shaw proudly presented the 2023 Environmental Stewardship Award to Mark Lessing, CEO of the Lessing’s Hospitality Group and a lifelong Long Islander, for his outstanding and environmentally friendly business practices as well as his support of efforts to protect water quality in the Great South Bay. The award was graciously accepted by Laura Solano, general manager of the newly opened Bayberry Restaurant in Islip.
The educational displays prepared by Janetmarie Soley included a 10-by-10 depiction using empty water bottles and jugs of the amount of water one oyster can filter per day—up to 50 gallons! The display was a stark reminder of the value of shellfish in the bay. Jessica Graham and Emily Jeran creatively displayed info on the Creek Defender program and the Great South Bay Oyster Project ,while the organization’s Bay Friendly Yards initiative was represented with the entire event decorated with native plants, including elderberry bushes and black willow trees, that were generously donated by Long Island Natives of Eastport.
A distinguished port wine and Armagnac tasting was presented by Columbus Wine and Spirits, which guests enjoyed while also having their futures read by the intriguing tarot card reader. The raffle table was filled with goodies to be won, including a D’Angelo electric guitar autographed by Hot Tuna and a Catherine Gowen original watercolor piece. Other raffles were generously donated by local merchants, including Drew Patrick Spa, King’s Chophouse, Nalu Dry Goods, Origin of Era, Whalers, Ditch, Tullulah’s and the Willy Nilly Trading Company, thanks to the efforts of supporters Kelly & Ed Zebro.
Lauren and Jonah Norinder along with Lucas and Noah worked the raffle table and the 50/50 jar. Congratulations to Colleen Bellows and Mark Soley, who jointly won the 50/50!
Executive director Robyn Silvestri thanked the many sponsors of the event and spoke about the latest (and very exciting) initiative of the organization—a South Shore-wide Unified Water Study that will lay the foundation for a bi-annual report card on the overall health of the bay.
A special thanks went out to all of the volunteers who made the event possible, including Dave and Meredith Schrader, KK Shaw, Ed and Chrissy Ragan, Alice Gittler, Eric Stettner, Earl Sandvik and Mary Vrtodusic. All proceeds from the event will be used to fund projects and programs that help restore water quality in the Great South Bay.