By Drew Budd
The SS Class Association held its annual Smith Point Regatta on Moriches Bay at the Westhampton Yacht Squadron on July 26.
The regatta—which has been held since at least 1925, according to Philip Smyth, head of the SS Class Association—was a chance for sailors to race historic SS boats, a wooden gaff-rigged sailboat that carries a certain allure in yachting communities. The SS Class has been said to take to the waters off Long Island as early as 1908.
For the first time ever, the Smith Point Regatta teamed up with the Moriches Bay Project, an organization dedicated to monitoring and restoring Moriches Bay. The group seeks to eventually seed one million oysters in Moriches Bay to clean it of harmful algae blooms created by excess nitrogen.
Eight boats participated—the winners being Scott and Alex Apmann—and maybe more importantly, $700 was raised for the Moriches Bay Project. The SS Class Association donated $25 for each boat that participated in the race, for a sum of $200 toward the total.
“We wanted to chime up with the Moriches Bay Project to elevate the whole thing,” Smyth said. “With the idea that we’re both interested in the bay.”
“We were thrilled to be a part of it,” Laura Fabrizio, co-founder of the Moriches Bay Project said, in a press release. “It was a very successful date. We got to bring awareness to our project and earn some money so we can further our work in the bay.”
The Smith Point Regatta originally got its name due to the fact that the race would end under the Smith Point Bridge in Shirley. The course was changed 20 years ago due to the high volume of boat traffic and different tide formations. Now the boats follow a course that could be likened to a sports car rally, navigating through shallow waters with tricky shoals. The rules of more common sailing are modified so that crews can exit their boat and enter the water in case they are grounded by a sandbar.
Tracy Cast of East Moriches had to do just that when her skipper Kylie Cast, her daughter, got stuck in Seatuck Cove. Tracy gave the boat a quick sprint and the Casts were back in business. Tracy said her cousin, Scott Apmann, who won the race, ran into the same problem in Speonk River.
“It’s kind of cool. It’s not your typical race, which, for me, is more fun,” she said. “Because you’ve got land on either side of you at times, the wind kind of bounces back off, so you’ve got funky shifts of wind. One moment the wind could be coming from the north, then it could be coming from the east. It’s more interesting.”
The race featured a number of the area’s top junior sailors, including Wally Dawydiak of Remsenburg, Danny Strebel of Westhampton Beach and Matt Linehan of Quiogue, who are competing in the Chubb U.S. Junior Sailing Championships this week in Massachusetts after winning the Area B U.S. Sailing Sears Cup Regional Championship a few weeks ago. Henry and Arthur Smyth of Remsenburg also competed; Henry was the Great South Bay Yacht Racing Association’s Optimist Class Champion back in 2013.