On September 21st, the last day of summer, The Mayor’s Charity Cup Regatta was run once again for the first time in over a dozen years.   The race took place at The Long Island Yacht Club in Babylon, which like the regatta itself is undergoing a real renaissance under the ownership of father and son team Rick and Eric Stettner.

It all began in March when Eric Winberry of The South Bay Cruising Club, sailing club, approached Save The Great South Bay to say they and LIYC were interested in resurrecting The Mayor’s Cup Regatta, and would Save The Great South Bay wish to be part of it, and be the event’s beneficiary?

For us, part of saving the bay involves engaging people with the bay — be it paddle boarding, fishing, oyster gardening, and in this case sailing.  What an inspiring spectacle the regatta was. Here’s some drone footage taken by Mike Busch of Great South Bay Images. He is also a Director at Save The Great South Bay.

Mike also took a number of jaw-dropping still shots:

Following the Regatta (which I must hasten to add was preceeded 6-8 AM that morning by a righteous clean up of Fox Island off Babylon led by Karen Marvin of South Shore Paddle Boards, also a Board Member), we hosted The Mayor’s Charity Cup Clambake. As you may note from the photos below, a good time was had by all!

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York Analytical Laboratories was the Presenting Sponsor. They are a regional environmental testing company that tests for contaminants in air, water and soil such as 1. 4 Dioxane and PFOS and PFAS, which need to be tested at parts per billion and trillion respectively. Present and supporting the event were a number of their Long Island clients, listed as sponsors below.

We also had on hand The Nature Conservancy, which was there largely to educate the public on the I/A OWTS systems (Innovative / Advanced Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems ) and the opportunity to replace your cesspool with one of these advanced systems via Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water initiative. If sailing has been on the decline in The Great South Bay, declining water quality has certainly had something to do. Suffolk has over 200,000 systems to replace as part of its strategy to heal our waters. It’s an enormous undertaking that will take decades. First we need to pilot this. How do we prepare for this rollout? How do we optimize these systems? Be a pioneer! Generous grants available. Ditch the cesspool and help us all by participating in the launch!

Seatuck Environmental Association was also there and present. Currently, they are seeking to aid in the stewardship of West Brook, much of which was ‘revealed’ when the 140 year old boards damming the brook into a pond (i.e. an impoundment) finally gave way at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, revealing the serpentine channel of the brook beneath. On Wednesday the 25th, they removed some phragmites before it went to seed, having been permitted by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. West Brook now may be the only creek, brook, river, or stream now flowing into the bay unimpeded. There is now at least 20 acres that is ready for reforestation. What the pond had drowned is coming back to life. We just need to let nature take over, providing occasional help when say an invasive needs to be removed or a native like white cedar needs to be planted.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with Seatuck here. Our Creek Defender Program, like their River Revival Program, advocates for a return of native habitat, including the removal of unnatural manmade barriers — dams, culverts, spillways — that destroy the habitats of creeks, and that therefore impact our bay.

The Gino Macchio Foundation, which has a contraption I call The Oysterator, was on hand as well. It was built to help the casual oyster farmer sort and clean their oysters right at their farms, as The Oysterator is floated to them on a barge.

Now this was The Mayor’s Cup, after all. You can’t have one without a Mayor, and in Ralph Scordino, you have someone who is deeply dedicated to the health of the bay. He understands on a deeply personal level just how important the bay is to Babylon. All along the way, as our organization has grown, Mayor Ralph has stood with us.

He became then the first recipient of The York Analytical Laboratories Stewardship Award, as presented by York CEO Michael Beckerich:

The Mayor was then formally presented with the award at VIllage Hall:

Save The Great South Bay and our lead sponsor York Analytical Laboratories is delighted to honor Mayor Scordino with this year’s stewardship award.

The Mayor has been a strong supporter of our organization almost from its inception. We held our first Creek Defender Day here in Babylon several years back, and understandably. Of all the fishing villages on our bay, Babylon, seems the most tight knit, ready to organize around a local cause.

Again and again, the village has chosen Mayor Ralph to lead them. Now, where leadership is needed to tackle the largest problem facing The South Shore, namely the fate of our bay, we know we can count on the Mayor to champion the effort.

I have conferred with The Long Island Yacht Club, The South Bay Cruising Club and York Analytical Labs, as well as our board. I asked them what they would like to communicate to you tonight. They will each be putting out their own posts about the evening, but they each said much the same thing: They wanted to emphasize the importance of instilling a spirit of stewardship among Babylon’s youth. With York, we have a lab that can provide air, water, and soil testing capabilities. Through local outreach, we can enlist Babylon’s schools, while drawing from best practices in local environmental education through such programs as A Day in The Life and The Billion Oyster Project.

This award honors the years you’ve worked to raise awareness about the bay’s problems. The mission continues. Let us inspire local youth and enlist them in the effort to save our bay.

The Mayor’s Cup Charity Regatta was run again for the first time in a decade because we want to reconnect people with their bay. Sailing, fishing, clamming — all part of our heritage that we must preserve. Thank you, Mayor Scordino, for your tireless advocacy.

Reflecting back on the day, I am in deep gratitude. The sailors who raised their masts and took and on the bay, the paddle boarders who woke in darkness so that our bay could get a little cleaner, to that 200+ attendees who came out in support, to the LIYC and The SBCC for pitching this in the first place, to those who donated money, time, raffle items, native plants (Thanks Long Island Natives!). Our all volunteer board — Todd Shaw, Karen Marvin, Mike Busch, Frank Piccininni, Wayne Horsley, Mark Murray — along with the dynamic Robyn Silvestri — pulled off a minor miracle. Our sights are already set on next year. Our overall goal is to resurrect sailing as a youth activity on the bay. The more we connect with the bay, the better its prospects.

Deep gratitude to all who sponsored. Thank you for helping to restore a tradition as we work to revitalize the bay:

York Analytical Laboratories — Presenting Sponsor
Babylon Rotary
United Energy Systems
Brookside Environmental
Garvey Properties
C2G Environmental
Rick Imbert
Castleton Environmental
Good Samaritan Hospital
Sterling Risk
Concepts Agency Group
GEI Consulting
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Friends of Tom Cilmi
PRK Insurance
Kathy Moore
Joel Sikowitz

Special Thanks to The Seventies Flashback Band for donating a custom guitar for the raffle!

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