Photo: Denise Civiletti

It was a perfect day on the Peconic riverfront for the perennial favorite summer event, Riverhead’s cardboard boat races.

As always, the races delighted the big crowd lined up along the river to cheer the captains of dozens of boats constructed only with cardboard, duct tape and acrylic paint. From the very simple to the extremely elaborate, most of the — mostly — seaworthy vessels held up pretty well as their captains paddled their craft up the river, around a buoy and back to the floating dock. They made good time — even as fast as under a minute-and-a-half for the quickest entries.

Cardboard boat races first came to downtown Riverhead in 2010, after former Riverhead Business Improvement District President Ray Pickersgill pitched the idea to the Town Board. The event was an instant success. It has taken place almost every year since, with two exceptions: 2016, when it was postponed over concerns about a possible bunker fish die-off and never rescheduled, and 2020, when the races were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is such a great day. Every year it’s a great day,” Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

Riverhead once again came up short in the annual Supervisor’s Cup race, which pits the supervisors of Riverhead and Southampton in a battle for supremacy over the Peconic River. Southampton Town notched its seventh victory in the supervisor’s race, which Riverhead has only won three times. The supervisors of the two towns finished in a dead heat in 2019, tied at 1:19 at the finish line.

Aguiar had to sit out the Supervisor’s Cup race again this year due to the broken leg and ligament injury that sidelined her in 2021. Deputy Supervisor Devon Higgins captained the “S.S. Aguiar” in the supervisor’s stead, but couldn’t keep up with Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. The Supervisor’s Cup trophy will again return the Southampton Town Hall.

The event is co-hosted by the Riverhead Business Improvement District and the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce.

“Hamster Wheel,” winner of the Most Creative award, piloted by Dylan Walsh
Photo: Denise Civiletti

Results of the 2022 races:

Supervisor’s Cup: Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman

Youth Regatta (12 & under)

Ist Place: Shark Bait – AJ Yarusso, Grady Moore, Braeden Messina

2nd Place: Kloudy Kayak – Gavin Walsh

3rd Place: Pokemon Boat – Jacob Walsh, Garret Learn, Cameron Galeotafiore, Brooks Galeotafiore

Grand National Regatta (over 12)

1st Place: Raptor TX Heidi Roppelt Cameron Giordano

2nd Place: Chris Craft- Peter Walsh, Craig Learn, Erin Learn, Gio Galeotafiore

3rd Place: Heritage- Michael O’Connell, Finn O’Connell, Kieran O’Connell

Outlaw Race: (Any age. If still afloat, another chance to win!)

1st Place: Raptor TX

2nd Place: Shark Bait

3rd Place: Chris Craft


Commander’s Choice: SS Sponge Bob – Noah Pinto, Elias Pinto

People’s Choice: Turtle-Y Tubular Adam Wilinski, Austin Wilinski, Zachary Sawler, Trevor Stein
Most Creative: Hamster Wheel – Gavin Walsh
Titanic Sinking: Unspeakable Speeder – Luke Palomo, Mohammed Adlah
Best Spirit: Powder & Paint – Ginger Behr, Mike Mattiolo
Best Constructed: Chris Craft – Peter Walsh, Craig Learn, Erin Learn, Gio Galeotafiore

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

Correction: The caption on the “Hamster Wheel” photo incorrectly identified its occupant as Gavin Walsh. It depicts Dylan Walsh.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.