As the crew teams made their way down the home stretch of the girls junior varsity 4x final at the Snowflake Regatta on the Peconic River in Riverhead Sunday, the team from Riverhead High School was easy to pick out.
They were the squad in the blue t-shirts with the words “Rowing for Coach Al” written across the front.
Al Borghard died Tuesday, two days after participants in the club he founded at Riverhead High competed in the annual regatta in his adopted hometown. He was 82.
Those who knew him well said the Calverton resident was “the father of rowing on Long Island.”
“If you’re in the rowing world, you know Al,” said Michelle Zaloom of Mattituck. “He was tireless in helping high school kids and rowers in general become better.
Fellow Blue Waves coach Ryan Greene said Sunday that Coach Al founded the club at Riverhead High eight years ago. He said the coach meant a lot to the 50 rowers from the school and the shirts Sunday were a way to show their love for the dying coach.
“They wanted to show their solidarity for Coach Al,” he said.
Ms. Zaloom said the coach was previously affiliated with the Sagamore Rowing Association, which operates out of Huntington and Oyster Bay and is Long Island’s oldest community rowing club. A Cold Spring Harbor school district boathouse is named after him. When word spread that he retired and moved to Calverton, it was a no-brainer for East End Rowing to encourage him to become a part of their group.
“When he first got involved with East End Rowing we said our only question for Al should be ‘What do you need?’” Ms. Zaloom said. “We were fortunate to have him around.”
There will be visiting hours for Al Borghard at Alexander Tuthill Funeral Home in Wading River from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. A memorial service is scheduled for noon Saturday, Nov. 26 at North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River.
His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Friends of Riverhead Crew, PO Box 136, Calverton, NY 11933.