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Port Jefferson Yacht Club

Port Jefferson Village and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital squared off on the open seas for the eighth time Sept. 9 for the Village Cup Regatta, an annual event that features a parade, sailboat race, a reception and even remarks from actor Ralph Macchio. Representatives from both groups man vessels and race in the Long Island Sound near Port Jefferson Harbor for bragging rights and, more importantly, to raise money for cancer research. The Mather team won the 2017 incarnation of the race and proudly took the trophy back from Village Mayor Margot Garant, who had the cup since the village’s 2016 victory. In total, about $65,000 was raised for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and for the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. The event is hosted by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club.

Brilliant, an 85-year-old schooner ship visits Port Jefferson Harbor May 22. Photo by Alex Petroski
Brilliant, an 85-year-old schooner ship visits Port Jefferson Harbor May 22. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Boating enthusiasts in Port Jefferson were treated to a piece of history May 22.

Brilliant, an 85-year-old, 61-foot schooner docked in Port Jefferson Harbor Monday afternoon, just weeks after the anniversary of its launch in 1932.

“It is known as one of the finest and best-maintained wooden vessels in America,” John Lane, former commodore of the Port Jefferson Yacht Club and a 47-year resident of Poquott said in a phone interview. He added that the vessel is “spotless,” and lauded its ahead-of-its time design.

For 65 years, the ship has sailed under the flag of the Mystic Seaport, a Connecticut-based boating museum, and has been used as a training vessel for children and adults interested in honing sailing skills and experiencing full immersion into ship board life.

“After a busy spring and a lot of work by a vast army of crew, volunteers, painters, yard workers, specialists and vendors Brilliant is in top shape,” Brilliant’s Captain Nicholas Alley said in a message posted on the museum’s website ahead of the 2017 boating season. He has been at the helm of the ship for six years. “Now we get to enjoy that labor and take this floating jewelry box out sailing.”

Brilliant was initially built for businessman Walter Barnum, who used it as a racing boat in the 1930s. During World War II, it was used as a patrol vessel for the United States Coast Guard. In 1953 it was donated to the Mystic Seaport. The ship sailed to Oyster Bay last week for three weekends of racing against other classic yachts, and it made a stop in Port Jefferson along the way.

The ship is considered one of the 100 most beautiful classic boats in America by WoodenBoat Magazine. It is estimated to have transported more than 10,000 people in its history.

Port Jefferson Village snatched ownership of the Village Cup back from John T. Mather Memorial Hospital at the 7th annual Village Cup Regatta boat race on Sept. 10 in Port Jefferson Harbor.

The race, which is presented by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, features about a dozen competing boats representing either the village or Mather Hospital, and is held for a good cause.

The event has raised more than $300,000 since its inception for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research.

The hospital held the cup entering the 2016 race, though the village has now won four of the last six years.