Paddlers for Pink Hugged Shoreline and Each Other
A tent almost as big as you’d see at the Hampton Classic had been set up at Sag Harbor’s Havens Beach Saturday morning, uniting, for the first time, the Party for Pink, which was to be held there that night, with its sporting arm, the Hamptons Paddle, 3 and 6-mile races that drew about 150 participants.
In the past, the races have been at Havens Beach, while the party has been held elsewhere. The merger of the two was impressive, as is the amount of money the event, now in its seventh year, has raised for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, “the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world,” according to the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, Myra Biblowit.
She added, “There’s been a 40-percent decline in breast cancer deaths since this organization was founded 25 years ago, and research is the reason.”
As aforesaid, about 150, a good number of whom were paddling on behalf of relatives and friends who had or have breast cancer, turned out, on a morning in which there was a strong southwest wind off the shore, and, later, some rain.
Bill Winegarden, 42, the eventual 3-mile race’s winner, the Dune Deck Beach Club’s “outdoor pursuits specialist,” was easy to spot in the rows of parked cars inasmuch as his license plate indicated he was a Montanan. He lives at the moment in Hampton Bays, though he snowboards in Montana’s Whitefish Lake State Park in the winter. Yes, he agreed, it was a good life.
“That’s our wilderness,” Ari Weller, Philosofit’s owner, said, gesturing toward the bay. “You can get out there and connect with nature.” As for paddling, he said he preferred to be by himself. “Where else can you go in this life and be out by yourself? And it’s always changing . . . you never know what it’s going to be like.”
Speaking of change, Lars Svanberg of Main Beach Surf & Sport, the race director, had been persuaded by the stiff wind to switch to out-and-back courses hugging the shoreline rather than stick with the originally planned triangular ones.
Still, competitors, after crossing the finish line, generally were in agreement that it had been a tough test, especially on the return legs from Cedar Point (in the 6-miler’s case) and Barcelona Neck (in the case of the 3-miler). There was a quarter-mile paddleboard race for kids too, won by an 8-year-old, Jameson Roeber of Port Jefferson, who must content himself at home by paddle surfing in the ferries’ wakes.
“He won by a mile, and against bigger kids too. It was pretty impressive,” The Star’s photographer, Craig Macnaughton, said later.
Winegarden used an inflatable paddleboard, though it wasn’t because it was better than a regular paddleboard. “Paddling’s actually tougher with an inflatable board, but it’s easier to pack,” he said.
Gina Bradley, the Paddle Diva, and the SUP 12-foot-6 division’s female winner, said, “Ten of us came today. I don’t race ordinarily, but I did it today for Maria Baum,” who, after having been diagnosed with the disease, had turned to paddleboarding, her husband, Larry, told the racers before setting out, “to get back her sense of self.” Bradley’s goal for Paddle Diva had been to raise $10,000 for the foundation’s work. The party has been held at the Baums’ in the past. Great advances had been made through research, he said, adding that “now it’s a matter of connecting the dots.”
Robert Kohr of East Hampton, the men’s SUP 12-6 runner-up to Winegarden, said he was participating that day on behalf of Amy Hull, his first cousin, a breast cancer survivor. He paddled, he said, at Long Beach and in Gardiner’s Bay, and paddle surfed at secret spots. “There are three parts to it,” he continued, in answer to a question. “Stand-up paddleboarding, paddle surfing, and downwind paddleboarding. Lars is a big downwinder,” he said. “We’re always trying to stay young out here.”
Alyson Follenius of East Hampton, the women’s SUP 12-6 runner-up, is to participate on a relay team captained by Evelyn O’Doherty this Saturday in the demanding 25-mile SEA Paddle around Manhattan that is to raise money for autism and environmental causes.
Josette Lata won the SUP 14-foot women’s division in the 6-miler, Kim Nalepinski was the top women's 14-footer in the 3-miler, David Baumrind, also of East Hampton, was third among the men in the 14-foot division, and Jennifer Ford, a breast cancer survivor, and Helen Gifford won the tandem division. Another East Hamptoner, Jessica Bellofatto, topped the 6-miler’s SUP 12-6 women’s division.
“I just started this summer,” said Baumrind. “I love it. I bought my board before I ever did it.”
“It’s like a meditation on water,” said Follenius.
“It’s not about winning today, it’s about women being together and enjoying the experience,” said Ford. “I wouldn’t have gotten through breast cancer without my friends.” As for tandem stand-up paddling, “It’s about teamwork and camaraderie,” she said.
“My mom died of lung cancer two years ago,” said Carmen Rojas Kenrich of Boston, who graduated from East Hampton High School in 1983. “That spurred me on. I’m here to support cancer victims and to support the sport. It was tough today, but doing this is a piece of cake compared to cancer.”
Jamie Parrot, Debbie Wasserman, and Melissa Spohler were acknowledged as the top individual fund-raisers that day. The top fund-raising team, Team SOS, raised $50,292.
It was reported that the races and party had raised about $1.4 million in all.
In the inset photo above by Craig Macnaughton: Helen Gifford and Jennifer Ford were the tandem winners. “Teamwork and cameraderie” saw them through, Ford said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article did not include the winner of the women's SUP 14-foot division in the six-mile race. She was Josette Lata.