The north wind blew in off the Long Island Sound and the waters of Port Jefferson Harbor carried numerous passengers last Saturday—none more buoyant than the spirit of hope that is at the heart of the Village Cup Regatta. For the eighth year, the event brought together local sailors and supporters on boats competing for the Village of Port Jefferson or John T. Mather Hospital, but all with one goal in mind: fighting, and one day finding treatments and cures for, pancreatic cancer.
With the haunting sounds of bagpipes in the air, the boats started the day’s action at 11 a.m. with the much-anticipated annual parade and sailed past the dock where a crowd had gathered, flags aflutter and cheers urging them on. They would head outside the harbor to compete in the race, then return to dry land to find out which team would take home the trophy, and as important, bragging rights.
This annual Village Cup Regatta began eight years ago after the Port Jefferson Yacht Club lost two of its members, former Commodore Bill Hausner and longtime club secretary Dwana Holroyd, to pancreatic cancer. To honor their memory, the event was created as a way to raise money to battle the disease—which has a five-year survival rate of only 8%.
The money raised—this year $65,000 came in, and to date it has generated nearly $450,000—has been divided equally between the Lustgarten Foundation, America’s largest private foundation dedicated to funding pancreatic cancer research, and Mather Hospital’s Palliative Medicine Program, which helps patients and families with the many factors that come with facing a life-changing diagnosis.
Sailing was bookended by the second annual morning Yoga Regatta on the lawn of Harborfront Park, yachts and glistening water in the background; and the Skipper’s Reception at the Village Center later in the afternoon, where sailors, spectators and supporters gathered to raise a glass to the winners—Team Mather took home the trophy this year—and to raise more awareness and funds.
“It’s always a fun day and it’s a great cause.” said Ralph Macchio, back again this year as Celebrity Ambassador for the event, who joined the crew of one of the Mather vessels. “People are excited about being part of both.”
Learn more at portjeffersonyachtclub.com.