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Sailing fundraiser set at Mill Neck Manor

Boaters in sailboats keep cool during a regatta

Boaters in sailboats keep cool during a regatta exercise on Oyster Bay, near Mill Neck. (June 29, 2012) Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

A yacht race followed by cocktails and dancing back at the mansion -- it sounds like something out of the pages of "The Great Gatsby." Instead, it's part of tomorrow's inaugural "Sailing the Sound for Deafness" fundraiser at Mill Neck Manor.

"This is a way to show off our mansion, which is a piece of art, along with the classic wooden boats, which also are works of art," says Nancy Leghart, director of advancement for the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which is housed in the historic Tudor Revival estate.

Money raised will go to the organizations' services for the deaf, infants to adults, including the School for the Deaf.



As many as 20 classic wooden boats will sail in the race, which will take about two hours. These will include boats from both the Oakcliff Sailing Center and private yachts. Most of the boats were built in the early 1900s.

"These classic yachts are significant to racing history, especially around Long Island," says Dawn Riley, executive director of the Oakcliff Sailing Center. One vessel, the Dolphin, built in 1914, has won more than 200 races at various events over the years.

Boats will start and finish off the waters of the Sewanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club on Centre Island and sail through the waters near Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor and Lloyd Neck. John Taylor of Bayville serves as a tactician -- basically a strategist -- advising the captain when to make key moves. "There's a physical and mental challenge" to sailing, he says. It's "different from anything else."



Don't sail? Spectator boats will give you an up-close view of the entire race.

"Even if you don't know anything about sailing, it will be exciting to see these exquisite, pristine boats gliding through the water," says Gary Cassidy of St. James, who will captain one of the spectator boats. "You'll really experience the urgency of the race."

Christeen, the oyster sloop owned by the WaterFront Center in Oyster Bay, will be among several boats carrying spectators.

Cassidy says spectators will be close enough to see the action on racing boats, including excellent views of crew members raising and lowering sails.

"These boats are the epitome of romanticism," Cassidy says. "For a few hours, we'll all live in that turn-of-the-century Gold Coast world."



After the race, guests are invited to Mill Neck Manor for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and dancing. Used as a school for the deaf for 50 years, the manor retains most of its original stonework and woodwork, stained-glass windows and wrought iron. Activities will take place both in the Manor and on its patio.

"We thought this was a great fit because sailboat races were common during the time the [Dodge] family lived at the manor, and this is a great way for people to experience the mansion," says Leghart. Dressing in the flapper-era garb theme of the evening is encouraged. Regatta Ginger Beer and Pimm's Cup cocktails will be served.

"This will be a true Gold Coast experience," says Leghart.

Adds Riley: "I'm planning to wear a linen suit and a big, floppy hat. I'm planning to go way, way Gatsby that night."


Sail the Sound for Deafness

WHEN | WHERE 6-8 p.m. Aug. 9 in waters of Oyster Bay, followed by cocktail party at Mill Neck Manor, 40 Frost Mill Rd., Mill Neck

INFO 516-628-4243,

ADMISSION $200 for ride on spectator boat and cocktail party ($125 for cocktail party only)

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