Cardboard Boat Race officially sinks for 2016


There will be no makeup date for this year’s Cardboard Boat Race in downtown Riverhead, according to Councilman Jim Wooten, who is a Town Board liaison on the event.

“It looks like it’s going to be cancelled this year,” Mr. Wooten said Friday. He said the volunteers who ran the race in past years are unavailable for any of the proposed makeup dates, including some in September.

Mr. Wooten said the town will likely be issuing an official press release soon canceling the race for this year.

“It’s a shame,” he said. “It’s such a fun event. But a lot of this was beyond our control.”

The popular event had been scheduled for June 26, but the Town Board postponed it because of low tide combined with a high number of bunker fish in the river, which led to fears that there could be another large fish kill in the river.

Last year, when there was a massive fish kill in the Peconic, the race was rescheduled from late June to late August, after the Suffolk County Health Department issued a warning about swimming in water with dead fish.

Riverhead Town, Southampton Town and New York State this year combined to hire crews of fishermen to haul out hundreds of thousands of bunker to prevent another fish kill, since the large number of fish in the river are believed to deplete oxygen levels, leading to the die-off.

The fishing crews have since stopped hauling bunker, which they sold as bait, but the bunker, also known as menhaden, are still here.

While the Cardboard Boat Race and the FOLD Festival were cancelled this year in Riverhead, Mr. Wooten said the town still has the Friday Night Concert Series and the new Alive on 25 event to take their place.

He said the town will plan the boat race again next year. The event has been held annually since 2010.

Photo caption: Sailors aboard the “Thresher” sink into Peconic River in 2012. (Credit: Gianna Volpe, file)

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Bunker in Peconic River last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Bunker in Peconic River last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)