With seven kids and two adults on board, it’s hard to imagine the crew of Speedy Edie fitting another person in their boat.
But if you ask the nine passengers what it was that willed them to victory in their heat of the “anything goes” race at the Fifth Annual Carboard Boat Races in downtown Riverhead Sunday, they’ll tell you it was the 10th member of their team: Edie.
Edie Penny of West Islip passed away Saturday. A grandmother to some on the boat, a cousin and friend to others, she was looking forward to the annual Cardboard Boat Race, which her friends and family members, some from Cutchogue, have participated in each of the past three years.
“We just changed the name of the boat yesterday to honor her,” said Scott Edgett, one of two adults on the boat along with Kevin Muscarello. Robbie Andresen and Kailee Muscarello, both 12, Leah Muscarello, 10, Frankie Muscarello, 6, Jenna Edgett, 9, Jillian Edgett, 6 and Scottie Edgett, 5, also rowed along on the winning voyage.
“Edie loved the Cardboard Boat Race,” said Diane Edgett, Scott’s mother.
The race wasn’t just a family affair for the Edgetts. In fact, Riverhead BID president Ray Pickersgill, whose organization sponsors the event along with the Town of Riverhead, said families are what makes the event so popular.
Race organizers estimated that more than 2,000 people came to downtown Riverhead to watch the six public races this year, which included two heats for kids, a Riverhead Yacht Club Regatta and three “anything goes” heats.
“This is a family-friendly event,” Mr. Pickersgill said. “It’s a great day out for everyone.”
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter agreed.
“Families come from everywhere,” he said. “I even spoke to someone from Boston today.”
Those folks got to see Mr. Walter lose in the annual Supervisor’s Race with Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Hulst, who has now defeated him three out of five times. She said it was her better constructed boat that gave her the edge. He gave a litany of excuses for his loss after a win in 2013.
“I was chopping wood yesterday,” Mr. Walter said following the race. “And I also used the same boat from last year. I now know not to do that.”
While Mr. Walter couldn’t repeat, others did.
The Coconuts — Father Robert Stiles Sr. of Bohemia, son Robert Jr. of East Moriches and daughter Barbara Aylward of Bohemia — who have brought home a trophy each of the four years they’ve participated in the event, won the final heat of the “anything goes” race, narrowly defeating the crew from the Riverhead News-Review. [A News-Review spokesperson declined comment after the event.]
For others, a victory Sunday offered a reprieve from less successful years on the river.
Take, for example, the crew of the General Lee, who when asked how they fared last year, said they finished second to last. When they showed up on the Riverfront Sunday, Alex Vanston, 18 of Flanders, Mark Hodun, 19, of Riverhead and Jake Phillips, 20, of Riverhead were all business.
They won the first heat of the “anything goes” race.
“We did a lot better than last year, that’s for sure,” Alex said.
The same could be said for the winners of the first youth race, the Tuts Lane Terrors, a crew of gnarly but cute little pirates from the South Jamesport street. Kaden Griffin, 11, rowed that boat along with neighbors William Leonardi, 13, and Victoria Leonardi, 10.
Kaden said he’s been dreaming about winning the race since the day the team came up short a year ago.
For other crews, the first time was the charm Sunday.
Julia Galasso, 12, of Westhampton, won the other heat of the youth race. Her boat was built by her grandfather Larry, who owns Lighthouse Marina in Aquebogue.
“I’m so proud of her,” grandpa said afterward. “She’s a super kid.”
And while Julia proudly displayed the name of her grandpa’s business on the side of her boat, the winner of the next race, Michael Cobb, 25, of Flanders — who was rowing a boat built by 15-year-old Riverhead High School students Roy Vazquez and Aliyah Phelps — looked like the one with the endorsement deal.
Approaching the home stretch, Mr. Cobb dropped his paddles and cracked open an energy drink as he coasted to the dock in a stylish victory.
Asked by a reporter afterward when exactly it was he realized he had one the race, Mr. Cobb took a moment to think.
Then he responded cooly, “when I got in the boat.”
Click to see more photos from the Cardboard Boat Race.