Make-A-Wish Regatta Brings Smiles To All


Leave it to the kids. They seem to understand intuitively what is important in our confusing and somewhat chaotic world. Just take a look at what the junior sailors at Port Washington Junior Yacht Club have been doing for years. At a young age, these juniors are learning that important lesson that giving to others in need is a good thing.

Pair that with having fun doing what they love—sailing—and you have a winning combination. And the “feel good” component just enhances the experience.
On July 23, the Port Washington Junior Yacht Club greeted more than 80 teams for the express purpose of raising funds for Make-A-Wish. While most regattas on the north and south side of Long Island Sound are for the express purpose of competing for trophies, this regatta has a bit different approach. While trophies are awarded and everyone applauds these young racers’ prowess of the water, the biggest rewards go to those who raise the most money for the cause. Spurred on by the fact that Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States and its territories, around every 38 minutes, these kids were motivated and their enthusiasm palpable.

Samantha Maynard of Sea Cliff Yacht Club (SCYC) was the top fund-raiser ($3,500) and won the Walter “Duke” Dayton Memorial Trophy, which is given to the individual who raises the most pledge money in a given year. Brendan McCormack and Connor Johnston from the Port Washington Yacht Club (PWYC), who were second and third respectively, raised $2,500. Additional funds came from total pledges ($19,775), registrations ($7,600) and Tips for Talent ($2,000).
Tips for Talent was a fun evening of karaoke held during Friday night Happy Hour. Not available at press time is the amount raised by the exquisite baskets made by club member Sharon Abruzzo. The PWJYC raised funds for four or more wishes to children, who for one day will be transported from their daily life-threatening challenges.

OTB_081016CTop boats in each division: Opti fleet: Note that the Green fleet, the very youngest sailors, received participation awards. Red fleet: 1. John Croke, SCYC, 2. Shayne Bersin, PWYC, 3. Nicole Bernstien, Douglaston Yacht Squadron (DYS). White Fleet: 1. Brendan O’Connor, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club (MBYC), 2. Rocco Rainone, SCYC, and 3. Isabella Croke, SCYC. Blue Fleet: 1. Zachary Petrick, SCYC, 2. Brooke Lorson, PWYC, and 3. Naadira Gafar, DYS.

Top boats in Big Boats: Pixel: 1. Madeline Murray, Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club, 2. Juliet Minadd, MBYC, and 3. John Saville, MBYC. Blue Jays: 1. Jack Grygiel, PWYC, 2. Barnaby Griffin, PWYC, and 3. Ava Giangrande, PWYC. Radial Laser: 1. Justin Smith, MBYC, 2. Lauren Krim, MBYC, and 3. Emily Budraitis, Hempstead Harbor. Club 420: 1. Julianna Blanco, Waterfront Center, 2. Ryan O’Connor, Waterfront Center, and 3. Brendan McCormack, PWYC.

It was Abruzzo who first brought the PWJYC and Make-a-Wish Foundation together. “For our family, regattas have always been a time of great fun. That’s one of the reasons why the Make-A-Wish Regatta is such a pleasure to be a part of. Along with the fun and excitement of the race (which is usually a first for many of the young sailors), there is the unmistakable good feeling everyone involved shares because it is also in support of a very special charity. That shared commitment—by the Port Washington Yacht Club, its members, the PWYC Junior Sailing Committee and all the sailors and families who participate—results in a tangible outcome, the granting of wishes to children who are critically ill. It is the Abruzzo family’s deep honor to be a part of that.”

A big thanks to the following: George Catallo, chair of PWYC Junior Sailing, Aidan McCormack, Sharon Abruzzo, Raffle baskets, the Race Committee, headed by PRO Tom Egan. Also thanks to PWYC Head Sailing Instructor Morgan Collins and to the staff at PWYC.

To view all the Make-A-Wish Regatta photos, go to and click on the photography at the top of the page.

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Andrea Watson is a Port Washington-based maritime photographer and journalist. She writes Port Washington News' column On The Bay and is currently the Executive Secretary of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRALIS).


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