By Jim Arnemann
August 10, 2017 -- With plumes of water from an NYPD Fire Boat heralding its start, the 41st annual Around Long Island Regatta hosted by the Sea Cliff Yacht Club, made history this past July 27th.
Starting for the first time in New York Harbor, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, close to 70 boats with competitors from all across the metropolitan area plus three boats from U.S. service academies began the grueling race in the midst of all the ferries, frights and river traffic of the iconic waterway.
With the assistance of the Manhattan Yacht Club, the ALIR race committee, headed by SCYC members Doug Wefer and Jim Aikman, started nine divisions of racers at 2 P.M. Strong southerly winds led the fleet out into the Atlantic.
“We thought it would be amazing but it exceeded our expectations. The fireboat, the backdrop, the spectators cheering for their teams and the addition of the tactics for exiting out of New York - everyone really loved the start location,” said Wefer.
The winner of the 200-mile 2-daylong race, which took competitors along the south shore of the Island around Montauk and Orient Points and back down the Sound to finish in Hempstead Harbor, was the U. S. Naval Academy’s Wahoo.
The race has been held annually since 1977 and takes a full year to coordinate, promote and execute. The race committee, made up of several yacht club members, schedule and promote the race, seek sponsors, plan with local authorities like the U.S. Coast Guard, coordinate all the accompanying parties and functions, arrange start and finish boats, secure trophies design and shop special merchandise as well as spend hours recording finishing times and scoring the boats.
“This is my 5th year working on the ALIR," stated committee member Shana Ciniski. "This year was the most rewarding. With the move to NY Harbor our committee put in tons of hours but the results were fabulous. I look forward to ALIR ‘18”.
The week wrapped up with the Awards Ceremony and Beach Gala on Sunday afternoon, July 30th, attended by 350 guests and members.
Trophies were presented to first, second and third for each division, as well as overall winners and to The USMMA as winner of the Jack Sussey Academy Trophy for best performance by an academy. Their boat is Phantom, a Tripp 40, skippered by midshipman Peter Wallin.
Other notable performances were sailed by Kinsale, the best YRALIS Youth Challenge Cup boat, with a crew of sailors a third that were 23 or younger; Golden-Eye, skippered by Michael Emmert, celebrated her 80th year afloatby winning the non-spinnaker fleet;
Avalanche, skippered by SCYC’s own Mark Disanti and Craig Albrecht, won the IRC division and was second in her division, despite losing part of their rudder during the race.
As the week came to an end, Commodore Bradford Dickson complimented the effort of the committee.
"At Sea Cliff Yacht Club we are so much more than just a club, we are a family," he said. "Each year the entire club comes together, working tirelessly for a common goal. I think we all agree that we exceeded that goal, running one of the best regattas on Long Island and provided an amazing experience for the sailors. I couldn't be more proud of our membership."
The Sea Cliff Race Committee, which supervises a number of regattas throughout the year, is already working on the 42nd ALIR.
“Going back to New York Harbor is on the top of the list” says Aikman.
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