About a dozen stark white sails glided across the Oyster Bay water. Coming inches from each other at every turn, they sped toward the finish line of the second annual Benefit Regatta on Friday hosted by the Waterfront Center.
“It’s about having a good time and supporting a good organization that serves over 20,000 people a year,” said David Waldo, the executive director at the Waterfront Center, a nonprofit established in 2001.
Because it’s a relatively new organization, one of the main goals of the event was to raise awareness about the center’s presence in the community. The Waterfront Center is a marine education center with programs ranging from scouting through the estuary to sailing lessons.
“We offer such diverse programs that there’s really something for everyone,” said Alicia Martorella, 32, sailing director for the Waterfront Center.
The center also provides a high school boating program for students on Long Island.
“It’s a good transitional program to get young kids involved in racing,” said Patrick Morris, 25, of Glen Head, a sailing coach at the Waterfront Center.
Waldo said this year’s event raised about $12,000.
“We rely heavily on their support,” said Waldo, 29, of Huntington.
There were eight sponsored boats and one staff-manned boat competing in the regatta. Each sailboat had a $1,000 entry fee.
The sailors took to the water in Sonars, a popular sailboat due to it’s versatility.
Last year, the sailors in the regatta had to braved a storm, but this year the weather presented optimal conditions.
“It’s a nice breeze and it’s consistent -- a nice fresh northeasterly breeze,” said Martorella.
Thirty people competed in the races, but later family and friends joined the sailors at the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay for cocktails, dinner and the awards ceremony.
The final standings were the result of an accumulation of points at the end of six races with a variety of course-styles, such as the windward-leeward once around and downwind course. Cablevision, which owns Newsday, won first place; the Merrill Lynch office in New York City, came in second; the Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz law firm, came in third.
“A center like this is great, because it’s a public place for people to sail who aren’t a part of clubs,” said Molly Hays, 49, of West Islip, a sailor in the regatta on the Farrell Fritz boat.
Photo: Alicia Martorella, 32, the sailing director at the WaterFront Center, was both the helmsman and tactician during the WaterFront Center's second annual Benefit Regatta in Oyster Bay. (Sept. 21, 2012)