by Terry Duffy
The excitement of an already hot summer 2010 continues to heat up -- this coming week in Youngstown.
In addition to a host of activities planned in and around the village, one biggie being the War of 1812 Encampment next weekend at Old Fort Niagara, there'll be sailing, people, partying and more at the Youngstown Yacht Club and out on the waters of the lower Niagara and Lake Ontario as the 37th annual Level Regatta hits.
This one just seems typical for YYC.
Long recognized as a premier racing club on the Great Lakes, the Youngstown Yacht Club marked its 79th year of sailing on July 2. It routinely offers a full slate of good fun for locals and visitors to partake in and enjoy during WNY's all too short boating season. Its activities range from popular nightly and weekend sailing for members, to interclub competition, interesting-to-watch racing offshore and a good share of fun activities on-shore.
Events this month saw the Youngstown Open Laser Regatta -- a laser and laser radials class five-race dinghy event, held July 3. It was won for the second year by Chas Williamson of Ithaca and saw four other YYC members, including one junior, finishing in the top 10.
On July 9-10, YYC hosted the 2010 Jack Beatty Niagara Hospice Memorial/Niagara Cup Regatta. Presented annually by the Beatty family in memory of YYC sailing legend, the late Jack Beatty, proceeds of the two-day event benefit Niagara Hospice. It included a benefit cruise and schmooze on boats in the lower Niagara last Friday, and the National Hospice Regatta Alliance qualifier on Lake Ontario waters on Saturday. Held in partnership with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club, the winning skipper and crew go on to represent Niagara Hospice at the NHRA Nationals in Rochester. Final results are still being tabulated.
There's a family activity tomorrow at YYC with a pirate-themed children's party. And the fun builds for adults this week en route to Level weekend -- on July 24-25.
"We go out of the way to make sure people have a good social experience," Regatta founder Don Finkle commented recently in a Sailing World feature.
And he's not kidding.
For northern Niagara residents it opens with the annual Level Regatta Kick-off Party Thursday, July 22, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Youngstown's Main Street. YYC informs that Monsignor J. Thomas Moran from St. Bernard's R.C. Church will again visit to offer the blessing at 7 p.m., village and town officials will be on hand, and throughout the evening there'll be dancing in the streets and good times with neighbors, YYC members and friends.
Jerry and Claudia Andres and Friends will provide the entertainment, area restaurants are expected to have food and beverages available on the street, and the first offerings of 2010 Level regalia will be for sale.
A fun community event, the street dance paves the way for Regatta weekend, which typically sees throngs of competitive sailors invading Youngstown.
Sponsored this year by UBS, North Sails, RCR Yachts, Ullman Sails, HSBC and Mount Gay Rum, plus a host of local supporters, the Level is "The defining competitive event at YYC," says the club's Dick Roach.
It's also regarded as one of the largest keelboat regattas in North America. As of July 16, YYC informs that 141 boats have signed on to compete. Of that, an impressive 81 boaters are crossing over from Canada with a large number from southern Ontario region ports -- Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Others hail from Lewiston and Youngstown, and the Buffalo, Rochester and upstate areas. There's even some from such distant ports as San Diego; Port Clinton, Ohio; Westbrook, Conn.; San Francisco; Villas, N.J.; and Marlborough, Conn.
Vessels competing include such types as Beneteaus, J22s and J24s, 8 Metres, C&C models, Petersons, Sharks, Vikings and more. The crews hail, literally, from all over the U.S. and Canada, and the sailing is expected to be competitive.
Saturday and Sunday races will see 30 to 35 boat divisions competing on five different courses set out in the lake. Races will take place in areas to the west and east of the Niagara River mouth.
On-shore viewing can be found at Fort Niagara State Park and on the beach area at Porter-on-the-Lake. YYC advises that course areas out in the lake will not be open to boaters during racing.
In between will be social happenings aplenty, both at the YYC, and in area bars and restaurants, which are expected to see throngs of visitors. YYC will be the site of some good local entertainment, with Route 66 in concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, the Soul Committee at 9 p.m., Saturday, and Gimme Buffett at 4 p.m., Sunday.
All said the Level is expected to bring more than $100,000 in economic benefit to the Youngstown community and adjoining areas, say YYC officials. Roach points out the YYC Level Regatta "provides merchants with one of the best revenue-producing weekends of the year. Although competitive, the Level is designed first and foremost to provide a good time for the skippers and crews."
The happening also means yet another enjoyable weekend for locals and visitors in northern Niagara. And it all gets under way on Thursday.
For further information on this year's Level, visit YYC's Web site at www.yyc.org.