by Autumn Evans
The Youngstown Yacht Club hosts the inaugural CanAm Challenge regatta this weekend on Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27 on Lake Ontario.
The CanAm Challenge replaces the legendary Youngstown Level Regatta that the yacht club hosted for 40 years. CanAm Co-chair Tim Finkle said the new race came about because the club wanted to change its style of racing.
"Rather than change what we had, we wanted to start a new (race) with new ideas," he said.
In that vein, the CanAm Challenge is a one-design race, meaning that each fleet contains yachts of the same make and model. Finkle said that there are currently 15 fleets registered, and about 100 boats total.
He said registration is open to "anyone who wants to sail," and the registration fee varies by boat and crew size, from $175 to $325.
"It's a great event for our club, and a way for sailors to get together," Finkle said.
Adam Burns, a YYC member and skipper of J/70 craft Risk, is one of the racers in the event. He said the J/70 is a newer class of sailboat, and his crew is using the CanAm Challenge as a training exercise for a larger regatta to be held in Newport, Connecticut, in September.
Burns emphasized the friendly competition between Canadians and Americans as a staple of the race. He said a scoring mechanism will track which country wins the most races, and the winning country will get a trophy to hold until next year's challenge.
There will also be a Canada versus America street hockey tournament after the races Saturday.
"I think it's positive all-around. It promotes good community," he said. "(Sailing) is a big team effort."
In preparation for the regatta, the yacht club hosted its Village Appreciation Street on Thursday, July 24 on Main Street between Lockport and Hinman streets. It featured live entertainment by the Jerry Andres Band, raffles and live drawings, food and regatta merchandise sales.
Area residents and visitors are welcome to experience more of this weekend's CanAm Challenge on the YYC grounds. A $25 fee for a wristband will provide access to the grounds, where there will be live entertainment and food trucks both days.
"People should come down if they're interested in sailing or seeing how racing works," Finkle said.
For more information on the CanAm Challenge, visit www.yyc.org.