Each Wednesday night during the summer, dozens of sailboats dot the horizon along the New Suffolk Waterfront.
The races around Robins Island, which are organized by the Peconic Bay Sailing Association, have been singled out for the striking visuals they create.
Last week’s race, however, felt particularly special since it was dedicated to cancer victims — specifically PBSA member Lilly Andrews, who died in March from pancreatic cancer at age 60.
“She was a special spirit,” friend Carol Dinda said. “I think everybody that knew her felt richer in their life because of her. And she had no idea.”
PBSA members Debra and Dave Comando, who took part in this year’s local Relay for Life following Ms. Andrews’ death, organized a fundraiser around last week’s race, which they dubbed “Sail for a Cure.” The pair had been raising money for months in tribute to their friend, who they said played a significant role in the New Suffolk community, with a Relay for Life donation page.
Last Wednesday, a bagpiper played on the dock as the sailboats began their race around Robins Island. Spectators stood on the dock and the beach, throwing flowers into the water to honor Ms. Andrews, who was an avid gardener.
“It turned out to be a beautiful evening,” said Ms. Comando, who noted that Ms. Andrews swam those waters frequently. “People really responded so generously.”
Ms. Andrews lived in New Suffolk with her husband, Brian, and son, Ian. She was a nurse who began her career in New York City before moving to the East End and loved sailing, animals and the arts.
Ms. Comando said she wanted the race to honor her friend’s commitment to the community while raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, which is usually aggressive. Ms. Andrews died around six months after she was diagnosed with the illness.
New Suffolk residents remember Ms. Andrews for dressing up as the Statue of Liberty for the hamlet’s annual Fourth of July parade. Last week, she was posthumously honored with the New Suffolk Civic Association’s Spirit Award, which her husband and son accepted on her behalf.
Lauren Grant, another neighbor and good friend of the Andrews family, said Ms. Andrews will be missed at this year’s parade. She said dressing like Lady Liberty made Ms. Andrews something of a local celebrity. Next week’s parade will be poignant because it meant so much to her.
“This year we know she’ll be looking down,” Ms. Grant said. “We’ll make it bigger and better for her.”
Photos: (Top) Last Wednesday’s sailboat race around Robins Island was held in memory of late New Suffolk resident Lilly Andrews. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder); (Left) Bagpiper Jim Fogarty of Cutchogue paid tribute at the event. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder); (Right) Ms. Andrews dressed as the Statue of Liberty for the hamlet’s annual Fourth of July parade. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)