The Port Jefferson Yacht Club, just by the nature of their craft, know how to navigate turbulent times.
It’s why even despite the pandemic and setbacks to its 11th annual Village Cup Regatta, the group still managed to raise $40,000 which is split between Mather Hospital and the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research.
Normally held in September, the regatta is a competition between teams for the Village of Port Jefferson and Mather Hospital. Whichever team wins gains the coveted trophy and bragging rights for the year, but the real purpose is to generate funds for pancreatic cancer research and cancer treatment. Last year the function raised $91,000
Chuck Chiaramonte, a past commodore for the yacht club who helps head the annual regatta, said they were pleasantly surprised to see just how many people still donated even in a time where many are experiencing financial hardship.
While the event is two-fold, one being the club’s outreach to the community to share their love of sailing and the other being its fundraising efforts, only one of those could be focused on this year because of the pandemic, Chiaramonte said.
“When COVID hit, there was no way we could ask club members to have a lot of people crammed into the cockpit of their boats, and so we thought we would have to cancel,” Chiaramonte said. “But then later on we were thinking, pancreatic cancer is as bad as ever, we thought we could still hold the charitable portion.”
The regatta still happened this year, but in a smaller capacity. Instead of boats crowded with people, each sailing craft was only allowed a max of two persons. Normally the event has Mather racing against the village, just using club members’ boats. Calling it the Village Cup “COVID Race” this year, club members still raced carrying banners of sponsors and others who donated to the event, though the village/hospital competition was dropped.
Though it may have raised less than previous years, and even in the midst of so much tragedy due to the pandemic, cancer and specifically pancreatic cancer still weighs heavy on so many club members’ minds, with so many friends and family having been lost to the disease. And this year, with COVID-19, club members knew they had to do as much as they could to help the hospital that went through hell during the pandemic’s height.
Kenneth Roberts, the president of Mather Hospital, thanked the yacht club for its support.
“We are grateful to the Port Jefferson Yacht Club and their continuing commitment to Mather Hospital, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Roberts said in a statement. “This is a wonderful example of how we will get through this, together.”
Chiaramonte said the yacht club plans to return for the 12th annual regatta in 2021, this time, hopefully, back to its normal self.