Yacht Club Regatta For ALS

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Port Washington’s sailing community is turning tragedy into a rallying cry, holding a big fund raiser to fight ALS, which one of its most respected members has been stricken by.

John B. Thomson, Jr., of Sands Point, who was has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is being honored at the 2013 Manhasset Bay Yacht Club’s Fall Series, which is a regatta that for the first time will be a fundraiser. The regatta is being held Oct. 19, 20 and 26.

John and his wife Adrienne started the Fall Series in 1979 to promote big boat racing in western Long Island Sound when racing conditions are best. John is also known around the world for his sailing and racing achievements.

A few years ago, his three children organized a birthday party for their father, and the place was packed with sailors and racers who came from Newport, the west coast and international harbors to celebrate and honor him.

Now, the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club has partnered with the ALS Association to raise funds to help not only John, but the many others who suffer from the disease.

The yacht club will do so through direct donations to the ALS Association, a silent auction, and those who are racing in the regatta can bid for a world class racer to be on their boat for a day.

This isn’t the first time the sailing commmunity has turned out for John. Last year, family and friends, sailors and non-sailors joined the Thomson family in May to walk to find a cure for ALS. One thing led to another, and it just made sense to honor John at the 2013 Manhasset Bay Fall series, sponsors say. John won the regatta in 1995.

“We are reaching out to all those people whose lives have been touched by John and Adrienne to ask for their support to help fund ALS research to find a cure,” said Paul Strauch, vice commodore of the yacht club and event chairman.

In addition to the appropriate class trophies and the John B. Thomson Sr. Trophy, there will be a special trophy for the boat that raises the most for ALS.

For those who aren’t racing but want to be part of the action, spectator boats are available for front-seat viewing. Why not spend a day out on Long Island Sound, watching the racing, and checking out how well the regatta is going. Call Manhasset Bay Yacht Club at 516-767-2150 to reserve a spot on a boat.
For those who prefer to stay ashore, there is a Tent Party at Manhasset Bay Yacht Club on Saturday Oct. 19, starting immediately at the conclusion of racing (casual dress).

For non-sailors, the party begins at 5 p.m. The silent auction is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Silent Auction items include sports memorabilia, wireless speakers that are new to the market, Tom Ford bags, plus much more. All will have a chance to hang out with the pros, eat good food and fund-raise for a cause that is close to the hearts of all who know John.

Minimum donation for the Tent Party is $20, For tickets, which must be purchased in advance, call Manhasset Bay Yacht Club at 516-767-2150.

There’s another accomplishment even more important than all the trophies John has won. The crew he has mentored over the years is phenomenal: Gary Knapp, Olympian; Scott Ikle, head coach of the stellar Hobart Sailing Team; Tony Reaper, professional sailor; 5 America’s Cup crew, Chuck Brown; Scott Gregory; Rob Myles; Ralf Steitz; and Josh Belsky, who has also sailed the Volvo Ocean Race.

Said Jerry Callahan, crew member from the 1970’s to the present, John “gave many aspiring yet relatively untalented and undeserving sailors like myself a chance to be part of a world class sailing program. . . I also do not think there was ever a better program with [as few] pros. Everyone wanted to be a part of the program, and it was an honor to wear the shirt.”

“The Fall Series fundraising committee (Nancy Cuneo, John Dunne, Randy Fairhurst, Sue Miller, Paul Strauch, Jennifer Thomson, John Thomson, III, Scott Thomson, Vicki Thomson and Andrea Watson) has been hard at work to make this Fall Series the best ever,” said Paul Cuneo, fundraising co-chair. “So come out and race, or hop on a spectator boat, attend the tent party and bid at the silent auction, or make a donation.” For more information: www.manhassetbayyc.org.

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