08/06/16 9:00am
08/06/2016 9:00 AM

Outlaw Cardboard Boat Race

The first time I covered the Riverhead Cardboard Boat race was in 2013. A crowd of more than 1,500 people wrapped around the Peconic Riverfront on a sunny, hot Sunday in June. In a shady spot, I came across Patrick White wearing a baseball hat with a handmade seagull fastened to it. He was down on one knee, working furiously with a magic marker as he put the finishing touches on his first cardboard boat, The Poop Deck.


08/24/15 6:00am
08/24/2015 6:00 AM

A scary moment for the crew aboard the "Hammer of the Gods."  Luckily, the vessel was able to sail on. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The mighty Peconic River proved too much of a beast for a group of Scandinavian warriors searching for victory in Riverhead Sunday. Nearly a dozen men had to pull the remains of their sinking Viking vessel, Hammer of the Gods, from the water after it began to flounder. READ

06/30/13 12:36pm
06/30/2013 12:36 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Goin’ Bananas paddled by Brett and Ross Dobert won first place in the first youth regatta competition Saturday at the Riverhead Cardboard Race on the Peconic Riverfront.

Riverhead Cardboard Race organizers have released a complete list of Saturday’s winners from the fourth annual boat race.

The popular event on the Peconic Riverfront was organized by Riverhead Town and the Riverhead Business Improvement District.

The race kicked off shortly after noon with the Supervisor’s Race, where Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter won against Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

Here’s a list of Saturday’s winners:

Youth Regatta

First competition
First place: Goin’ Bananas. Crewed by Brett and Ross Dobert. Built by Rasso Dobert.
Second place: Crabs. Crewed by Eric Deegan, James Bardrom and James Parkinson. Built by Eric, Larry, James and Joshua.
Third place: The Bobber IV. Crewed by Bobby Bayer.

Second competition
First place: Archimedes III. Crewed and built by Ian and Jay Oxman, Jonah Holderer and Sam Santora.
Second place: Vote for Michael Panchak. Crewed and built by Michael Panchak.
Third place: Baby Faces. Crewed and built by Haley Rudnicki, Bryce McKissick, Brian Clark and Michael Harris.

Riverhead Yacht Club Regatta – Single Occupant

First place: He Row. Crewed by Robert Stiles. Built by Team Coconuts.
Second place: USS Monitor. Crewed and built by Jack Tyniec.
Third place: Batz and Pep. Crewed and built by Ed Phalen.

Peconic River Special Pontoon Boats – Anything Goes

First place: Bottom of the Barrel. Crewed by Erik Bilka, Dave Smith, Shelly Smith, Jackson Smith, Chris Scarduzio, Jeremy Tocher, Josh Carp, Nick Poe and Patrick Clementz. Built by Mark Schumacher.
Second place: Kardboard Khaos. Crewed by Jeff Andrade, Peter Orlowski, Dan Baione and Darren Hinderliter. Built by Cardboard International.
Third place: East Moriches Community Ambulance. Crewed by Ryan and Sara Franceschini, Karine Constentino, Jackie Brown and Robert Wedell. Built by Diane and Robert Wedell and Kerrie Franceschini.

The Grand National Regatta – Anything Goes (two or more paddlers)

First competition
First place: Get Away. Crewed by Mark Sisson, Katrina Lovett, Nora Catlin and Chris McHugh.
Second place: USCGC Sarafin. Crewed and built by Cassie Densieski and Natalie Massiah.
Third place: Passing Wind.

Second competition
First place: Chip Eater 2. Crewed by Scott Edgett and Shane Burgher. Built by Scott, Shane, and Anthony.
Second place: I Hope It Floats. Crewed by Evan Houck, Abigail Houck, Vincent, Mike and Mark Manuella. Built by Vincent and Mike Manuella.
Third place: Renew Blur. Crewed by Fred Popp, Mike Fingers, Gary Tabler, and Juan Cruz. Built by Fred Popp.

Cardboard Boat Race Awards – Youth Boats

Vogue Award (best looking): Goin’ Bananas. Brett, Ross and Rasso Dobert.
Most Creative: The Disney Princess Castle. Pola Dobrinski, Nylejah Green, Megan Brewer and Sara Mohern.
Best Costume Crew: Home Tee Pee. Brian, Cliff, Marie and Diane Berry.
Spirit Award: The Ark. Eva Reese, Christiana Carini, Catherine Burns and the St. Isidore’s Youth Group.
Best Themed Award: Archimedes III. Ian and Jay Oxman, Jonah Holderer, Sam Santora and the Long Island Science Center.
Commanders Choice Award: The J.T. Jonathan Theodore.
Best Captain Award: LI Adventure Race. Hanna Witt, Jayden Binkis, Coy and Lincoln Witt.

Cardboard Boat Race Awards – All Other Boats

Vogue Award (best looking): Get Away. Mark Sisson, Katrina Lovett, Nora Catlin, and Chris McHugh.
Most Creative: USS Monitor, Jack Tyniec.
Best Costumed Crew: By The Book. Faye Swett and Kaity Talmage.
Spirit Award: Chip Eater 2. Scott Edgett, Shane Burgher and Anthony.
Best Themed Award: Duct Blind. Daniela Bennett and family, Daniela Campino and family, the Velasquez family and the Ortiz family.
Commanders Choice Award: Two Codgers. Jack Helgans and Howie Dietz.
Titanic Award: Lighthouse Marine Machine. Matt Tuthill, Kevin Tuthill, Rob Muller, Jordon Forkoren and Keith Santoro.
Best Captain Award: Archimedes III. Ian and Jay Oxman, Jonah Holderer and Sam Santora.

See photos and watch a video of a first-person view of the Cardboard Boat Race. Pick up Thursday’s paper for complete coverage.

[email protected]

06/29/13 3:31pm
06/29/2013 3:31 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | News-Review reporters Cyndi Murray (left) and Carrie Miller compete in the fourth annual Cardboard Boat Race Saturday.

Long Islanders gathered Saturday in downtown Riverhead to watch paddlers compete against each other in the fourth annual Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic Riverfront.

The popular event was organized by the Riverhead Business Improvement District and hundreds of people lined the riverfront, enjoying a day of fun, food and friendly competition.

Riverhead News-Review reporters Carrie Miller and Cyndi Murray competed in the Grand National Regatta race. With a video camera strapped to the front of their boat, the duo recorded their race as they tried navigating through the water among more than a dozen boats.

Click on the video below for a first-person view of the race.

See more photos at northforker.com.

02/02/13 1:00pm
02/02/2013 1:00 PM
The Riverhead Rocks Triathlon and Cardboard Boat Race will be held the same weekend this summer.

The Riverhead Rocks Triathlon and Cardboard Boat Race will be held the same weekend this summer.

Two popular Riverhead events will be held on the same weekend this summer, bringing family fun and a surge of business to downtown Riverhead.

Riverhead’s 4th annual Cardboard Boat Race and the Riverhead Rocks Triathlon, going on its second year, will be combined into one weekend of fun June 29-30.

“We always had the boat race on that [last] Sunday [in June], but because the triathlon depends on the way the tides are, it worked out that the tides will be perfect for the way they need to be for that Sunday,” said Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District.

The boat race will be June 29 and the triathlon June 30.

Last year’s boat race had close to 100 participants, and brought more than 2,500 people to Riverhead, Mr. Pickersgill said. “It’s amazing people come from all over the island to come and participate in this.”

The event is an opportunity to bring families together.

“Last year I had one mother say to me, ‘You know my son and daughter fight all year long, but the two months before the race they are as thick as thieves building their boat,’ ” Mr. Pickersgill said.

The inaugural Riverhead Rocks Triathlon also drew quite the crowd last year, with more than 450 participants. This year more than 1,000 participants are expected to race, Mr. Pickersgill said.

Last year “the hotels were all booked solid,” Mr. Pickersgill said. “All the restaurants were packed with the people buying dinner and lunch.”

Booths will be set up for local restaurants to sell food during the triathlon and for non-profit organizations to fundraise, Mr. Pickersgill said.

In an effort to promote downtown Riverhead to potential business owners, the district will also open “pop-up stores,” in the empty storefronts on Main Street. With the permission of the landlords, “the empty buildings get transformed for the day and become businesses,” Mr. Pickersgill said.  “So that they can see what it’s like on Main Street, and maybe they will decide to come back.”

Depending on the landlords’ permission, they may be able to open the “pop-up” stores for both events.

“It’s just a great, great family day,” Mr. Pickersgill said.

Last year the Cardboard Boat Race won the Verizon Fios “Best Community Event on Long Island” award, and the Riverhead Rocks Triathlon won its “Best New Event” category.

For information about the either event visit www.riverheadbid.com. For further information on Riverhead Rocks Triathlon visit www.riverheadrocks.com.

[email protected]

07/05/12 6:00am
07/05/2012 6:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn at her desk in Riverhead Town Hall.


Why even run?

I read with some concern the News-Review article “Tax receiver retires; Wooten eyes job”. What I would like to know is when tax receiver Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn knew she was going to retire? She was just elected to a four-year term of office and now we have to have a special election to fill her slot. Special elections are expensive.

Councilman James Wooten, who was just elected to a four-year term on the Riverhead Town Council, now wants Ms. Wowak Heilbrunn’s job. When I ran for assessor last year, Mr. Wooten wanted to run for town supervisor but was pressured by Sean Walter and Republican Party officials to run for a council seat.

Mr. Wooten should make up his mind, as he is not doing the public a favor in having another special election for his council seat. In a time of a poor economy, high unemployment and higher taxes, Riverhead can ill afford special elections. The public be damned.

Robert Svoboda


Singing the blues

After reading a letter to the editor about the Blues Festival in last week’s newspaper, I felt compelled to give my opinion as to why the attendance was down this year, as well as give my reason for not attending myself.

People didn’t show up mostly because they were not allowed to BYOB (bring your own beer). Part of the unique charm of the Blues Festival was to bring your own beverages and food, set up your area, hang out and listen to good music, meet up with friends and just kick back and relax all day. This year, however, between the admission and having to buy beer on-site, it made it too expensive to attend — especially all day, like my group has always done — therefore it was not worth our while.

It’s a real shame because my friends and I — a group of about 25 — looked forward to the Blues Festival every year. None of us went.

It’s also a real loss for the town. Riverhead blew it once again.

Janice Seus


Stop them!

Say what? The Riverhead Town Board is poised to approve a land use plan and rezoning for Route 25A in Wading River, but the non-elected Planning Board thinks otherwise?

That’s what it seems like when a premature and incomplete plan for a 53,000-square-foot shopping center is proposed for the very area the Town Board has targeted for balanced growth. The Planning Board has taken a preliminary look at plans for the North Shore Country Plaza — proposed for the property next to the Condzella Farm in Wading River — and seems ready to fast-track the project before Town Board members can act on what they think is good for Wading River.

Referring to the Town Board plan, project lawyer Peter Danowski suggested that “to change the plan now in the middle of someone’s application, I think, is actionable.” That means subject to a lawsuit. He said, “It’s unfair to have a pending application that is not acted upon and then change the zoning.”

Is he kidding? It’s just the opposite. The 25A Corridor Study was begun in July 2011. The development project was not proposed until December. At that time, it was said that the development plan was some kind of effort to protect development rights in the face of the land use study. So it’s not the case that the Town Board is contemplating rezoning in the face of the shopping center plan; it’s the shopping center plan that’s trying to pre-empt the rezoning. The rezoning plan came first!

I think that the shopping center backer, Mr. Danowski and the Planning Board are quite literally trying to “pull a fast one” and try to railroad this undesirable project through the unelected Planning Board in record time, before the elected Town Board can enact the 25A plan. Neither the Town Board nor the Planning Board should let that happen.

Richard Amper

Editor’s note: Mr. Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, wrote this letter as a concerned citizen and not as a representative of the Pine Barrens organization.


A day at the races

Three cheers for Riverhead! The Cardboard Boat Race has turned into a real downtown showcase event. Judging by the large increase in boats that raced this year and the ever-increasing crowds, we have a lot to be proud of.

I would like to thank all the volunteers, town police, town recreation, town sanitation, building and grounds, the BID and the highway department for their efforts.

I would like to also offer a special thanks to my colleagues on the Cardboard Boat Race committee, Ed Densieski, Kristina Gabrielsen and Ken Zaneski. The boat race committee founded this race in 2010. For three seasons we have worked endless hours to make this event such a success. We are already planning next year’s race to make it even bigger and better. Another event that is positively Riverhead!

George Gabrielsen

councilman, Riverhead Town

07/02/12 2:50pm
The Beach Boys, American Idol, Three Dog Night, Graig Nettles

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | A cleanly shaved Walter Klapatosk reads letters that were obtained by the Riverhead News-Review this week that he had sent to his ex-wife and daughter. He said he sent the letters, which contain graphic details of sexual encounters he claims he’s had with young women around Riverhead, to ‘piss off’ his ex-wife.

The man who went around at last week’s Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race claiming to be The Beach Boys’ Mike Love said he’s sorry and that he’s going to try his best to stop pretending he’s someone else.

“It was a stupid thing to do,” Walter Klapatosk said of the incident, which culminated with a young woman’s announcing to the crowd that she was going to be on the next season of the popular television show “American Idol.”

Mr. Klapatosk, who lives in Aquebogue, said the deception started after he requested the event disc jockey play a song “for Mike Love,” The Beach Boys’ hit “Help Me Rhonda.”

Someone who overheard Mr. Klapatosk, 61, speak with the DJ then asked him if he was Mike Love.

“I said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But not really meaning I’m Mike Love,” he said.

Word of the famous Beach Boy’s attending the downtown event ultimately spread to 24-year-old Riverhead resident Amy Wesolowski, who then struck up a conversation with the man she now knows as Mr. Klapatosk.

He admits to telling her he was Mike Love of The Beach Boys and that he could help get her on “American Idol.”

“The girl asked me, ‘Oh, you can get me on American Idol?’ ” he said. “She said, ‘How do you get me on? I said, ‘I can get you on.’

“But anyone can get themselves on,” he later said, “You just go onto the computer, onto Fremantle or American Idol and there’s an application to go in for the audition. That’s how you get them on.”

Ms. Wesolowski made her announcement to hundreds of spectators at the race.

“I’m gonna win this thing,” she told the crowd, a smile on her face. “I’m hoping you all watch it, listen to me sing and call in and vote as much as you can.”

Mr. Klapatosk said he now regrets misleading Ms. Wesolowski and that he plans to no longer identify himself as Mike Love, though he says an injury he suffered in a traffic accident when he lived in North Carolina more than 20 years ago often prevents him from filtering what he says.

“Because of my brain injury, I sometimes go along with things,” he said. “Someone says, ‘Oh, you’re Mike Love?’ I say, ‘Sure.’ That’s my problem.”

Mr. Klapatosk said he’s received counseling for his behavior and that since last week’s incident he’s reached out to therapists for help. He said he has written the manuscript for a book about his brain injury and the stories he has told as a result. He showed a News-Review reporter a portion of a proposal from a subsidy publishing company that indicates he sent them a manuscript of his book.

He said the injury and his subsequent behavior led to a divorce in the mid 1990s and that he is currently estranged from his wife and daughters, who still live in North Carolina.

Since the injury, Mr. Klapatosk said he’s also told people he’s Three Dog Night keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon and former New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles.

Most people in the community who spoke to the News-Review said they know Mr. Klapatosk as a man who says he’s former “Leave it to Beaver” actor Rusty Stevens.

When asked by a News-Review reporter if he would stop telling people his name is Rusty Stevens, Mr. Klapatosk said “no,” because that was a name he used while working as a DJ in North Carolina in the 80s.

“I am Rusty Stevens,” he said.

Diane Reeve, owner of the former EastEnders Coffee House in downtown Riverhead, said “Rusty Stevens” would frequent her business, telling tales of his time in television.

He also promised her young female employees that he would use his show business connections to help them get recording contracts, she said.

“He only approached young females, never the males,” Ms. Reeve said. “We were proactive in warning the girls not to give him any information and definitely do not go anywhere with him.”

Mr. Klapatosk’s sister, Charlene Sequen and her daughter, April Velasquez, say he has a long history of using false identities and making lofty promises to attractive young women.

Ms. Velasquez says when he’s not approaching young women at major East End events, her uncle frequents the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, the Long Island Game Farm, Riverhead Free Library and Walmart on Route 58. She said he often gets into paid events free by identifying himself using one of his celebrity personas.

“He goes wherever he can find young girls,” Ms. Velasquez said.

In his interview with the News-Review Friday. Mr. Klapatosk spoke of some of the relationships he’s forged with several women in their early 20s.

He said he met one woman, a 20-year-old from Riverhead, at the Riverhead Free Library when he approached her about recording a song he had written about the end of his relationship with his former wife.

“I wound up buying everything for [the woman],” he said. “Her cell phone, clothing, food.

“We were going to record a song together,” he said. “But when I took her to record, things just didn’t work out well. I told her she couldn’t really record well enough.”

He also spoke fondly during the interview of a local singer in her late 20s, whom he said he had met while she was performing at an area vineyard.

He said he introduces himself to young performers as Rusty Stevens, and he shared with the News-Review a business card that reads “Rusty Stevens: performer, producer, director, talent agent. For info or audition call (  ) _________.” [The phone number was left blank, to be filled in by hand.]

When asked if the bonds he forms under the name Rusty Stevens and others ever morph into sexual relationships, Mr. Klapatosk at first said no.

His story later changed when he was presented with letters and photographs he admits he sent his ex-wife and daughter, in which he claims in graphic detail to have had a sexual relationship with the two singers mentioned above.

“Here I am trying my best to be your friend again and I am sending you pictures of girls I had sex with,” he wrote in one letter to his ex-wife. “That’s dumb, dumb, dumb!”

His ex-wife did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

In an email to the New-Review this week, his daughter, Carrie Klapatosk, said her father “cyberstalks” her and emails her and her friends.

Ms. Klapatosk said her father “was crazy before his head injury and is even worse now.”

“I am glad he was finally caught at his games he plays and people know what kind of creep he is,” she wrote.

When asked why he sends letters to his ex-wife and daughter, Mr. Klapatosk said, “Ninety percent of it was to piss off my wife.”

Asked what the other 10 percent was for, Mr. Klapatosk replied “because it really happened.”

Mr. Klapatosk said he had been cooperative when questioned by Riverhead detectives in the days following last Sunday’s boat race incident and that he had even showed them an album of photographs he’s taken of young women around Riverhead Town. When later asked by a reporter if any of the photographs were sexual in nature, like photos and videos he describes in his letters, Mr. Klapatosk said one photograph shows a Riverhead department store employee opening her blouse and flashing her breasts.

Mr. Klapatosk said he approaches young women because he likes the attention they give him.

“It’s like I have my children back again,” he said. “I haven’t seen my daughter or granddaughter [since 1997].

“It makes you feel young.”

[email protected]
[email protected]