'New format' Level seen for 2014
Review by Terry Duffy
The 40th - and final - version of the Youngstown Yacht Club Level Regatta played out last weekend on the Lake Ontario waters and in the Village of Youngstown, much to the delight of participants, visitors and organizers.
"It's been some weekend," commented main race organizer Pat Mackey of the Youngstown Yacht Club last Sunday as Level activities began to wind down on the YYC grounds. Mackey reported 188 boats competed in this year's Level and crowds in the 4,000 range had taken over the YYC and village over the course of the four-day event.
For YYC organizers it was one to relish and appreciate. The Level, over its 40-year existence, has become a happening that's essentially a labor a love for the YYC's membership. The same held true last weekend. "All the hard work of so many dedicated volunteers over that period was repaid with the way the final regatta went down last weekend," wrote Don Finkle, event founder/chairperson for an article that appeared in the July 31 issue of Scuttlebut Sailing News. "It was a wonderful time afloat and ashore and the competitors were most generous in their thanks. It was a fitting way to cap the event - we could honestly say we went out on a high."
So did the Village of Youngstown, which played host to the hundreds who attended this year's event. The fun got underway last Thursday, where people of all ages filled Main Street in the village to take part in the last Level Regatta Street Dance. Music from Gentleman's Quarrel, and the Jerry Andres Band with a little help from Annie DeFazio and Monte and Marcia Jones, had folks dancing all evening. Along with the dancing, there was food, drink and a chance to purchase Regatta items while visiting with friends and enjoying a delightful summer evening in Youngstown.
And the fun continued throughout the weekend, one that was marked by well-attended concerts all three days on the YYC grounds, along with brisk activity at area bars, restaurants, stores and businesses.
Sales of regatta gear were particularly heavy for the finale, according to Mackey. "We ran out," he said, noting that by Thursday evening virtually every item of the limited edition regatta apparel ordered for the final 40, including shirts, hats and assorted gear, had sold out and emergency orders needed to be placed with the supplier, Stuarts Sports Inc. of Lewiston. And those supplies vanished from YYC's shelves almost as soon as they arrived on Saturday, Mackey said. He added that YYC had met its regatta gear sales total, usually reached over the course of an entire weekend, in just one evening this year. "I can't even get a shirt, and I'm race director," he joked.
The event itself saw spirited sailing competition, marked by what many at the YYC termed the best sailing conditions experienced on the lake thus far this year. In fact, Saturday's winds became particularly tricky for an eight-meter vessel that nearly sank on a turn in one race. Preliminary race results in the IRC Division according to Yacht Scoring saw "Nobody's Business," a NM-43 skippered by Mark Lawless, and "Lake Effect," a J-111 piloted by Robert Hesse, finishing in a first-place tie with 11.0 points over five races. Other race results can be found at the Yacht Scoring website, atwww.yachtscoring.com.
So what's in store for the future? You'll have to wait and see, answered Mackey. "Everyone's been asking us that," he added. He said that, over coming months, YYC organizers will be busy evaluating the entire program. ""We'll be looking at classes; see what works, what doesn't."
Both Mackey and Finkle shared that future Levels would be smaller in scale to adjust to changing times, and likely become more class oriented. Changes? Yes. But in no way would the Level be going out of existence.
"We in Youngstown do not want to get out of the business of running regattas but the Level has a very well developed brand and we could not make any real changes without starting over again," Finkle wrote. "We decided to end the Level while it was still popular and go off in a different direction to re-energize the troops who do the work.
"There will be a new regatta here at YYC on the traditional weekend at the end of July in 2014. It will not be the Level, but it will be the best we can do under the new format. We are still working on details, so there will be no public announcement as of yet. But for those invited boats, it will be worth the trip to Youngstown."