GARRET MEADE PHOTO
A sunfish spectacular Sunfish sails provided a splash of color on Peconic Bay on Sunday when the North American Sunfish Championships concluded at the Mattituck Yacht Club. A Massachuetts sailor, Bill Brangiforte, competed with tendinitis in his left elbow, yet still won the regatta. The event coincided with the yacht club
There are times when an event transcends sports and becomes a happening. That was the case with the North American Sunfish Championships that concluded Sunday at Mattituck Yacht Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
On a hot, humid, sun-splashed Saturday morning, with colorful tents and trailers and sailboats ringing the ball field next to the club, and with people of all ages enjoying the festivities, the celebration was in full swing. There were 88 boats in the open competition and 41 in the Junior North American Championship.
“We bid for the championships as part of our 100th anniversary celebration,” said event organizer John Condon. “We wanted to do something big. The event has never been on the East End. The last time it was on Long Island was in 1996 in Sayville. So, this was a great honor for our yacht club. We were excited to get it.”
The races, with the boats going twice around the three-mile course, began July 20. Condon said the unusually hot and humid weather, with an occasional thunderstorm mixed in, impacted some of the races.
Bill Brangiforte of Massachusetts, who had to withdraw from the World Championship a month ago because of tendinitis in his left elbow, entered the North American Championship and took it race by race as he monitored his elbow closely. This approach proved to be the magic formula for Brangiforte.
In the final race of the regatta, Brangiforte had a clutch performance in the breezy conditions that threatened his elbow the most. He finished second overall in the race with 45 points to clinch the championship. He narrowly beat longtime friend Mark May of the Shattemuc Yacht Club, who finished second with 50 points,
The recently crowned youth world and junior North American champion, Jose Guitierrez of Venezuela, was third with 53 points. Gary Prieto of Old Cove Yacht Club was fourth with 62.
Two sailors with North Fork roots, Larry Suter and Bobby Boger, did well. Suter, of Storm Top Sail, was seventh (81) and Boger, of the Kings Park Yacht Club, was 11th (111).
Guitierrez (53 points), Kamilla Sabogal of Ecuador (65) and Prieto were the top three juniors.
Condon said Brangiforte is always near the top of the pack. “You never notice he’s there because he is not in trouble,” Condon said. “Bill makes the right decisions on the water.”
Prieto, 14, of Southold, has been sailing since he was 7. He called this regatta “a big deal.”
“Some great sailors took part in this,” he said. “Some of these guys are world champions. It feels really good to do well.”
One of the benefits of hosting the regatta, Condon said, was that Mattituck Yacht Club members provided housing for some of the sailors.
“It was a real chance for them to talk to some of these experienced sailors and have them explain how they do certain things with their boats on the water,” Condon said. “This is such a social thing, too. The Sunfish is a friendly class. Friends get to see each other at events. It is like a reunion every year.”
Condon called the week “a great experience for us.”
“We had a great turnout,” he said. “It was exciting to have this in our backyard. A lot of local people got to be part of it. The hospitality was great. This is tough to top.”