The CanAm Regatta, successor to the famous Youngstown Level, was held last weekend at Youngstown YC. This year’s event marked the 50th time that YYC has held a regatta at the end of July. The first 40 were the famous Level (if you were here for any of those days you would know why we used the word famous); the last 10 have been called the CanAm Challenge, but the venue was the same. The CanAm had been known primarily as a one design event, so to encourage more boats to join us we added the name Great Lakes PHRF Fest for 2023, and we did in fact draw more PHRF boats. In fact, the largest fleet was the PHRF Spinnaker gang.
The wacky weather so far this year continued for our event, so we had our own challenges from the racing standpoint. Saturday started with a monsoon of rain, which turned into a stiff 20 knot ENE breeze that was forecast to build, and it quickly churned up a confused sea as the wind clocked around with the passage of the front. The radar was lit up all day with impending storms and in the end it was deemed there was not enough time to get everyone out for a race within the scheduled limit.
It was a hard call for sure, but when you run an event you need to consider the safety of the whole fleet, and this includes the volunteers in the race committee boats, especially the small open ones. It is much easier to make these calls when the fleet is of major championship caliber, and you believe the crews, boats and equipment can handle it. We had a wide variety of boats and sailors and we erred on the safe side. It was unfortunate for a small number of the crews who relish those conditions, but the vast majority approved. We thus moved the Sunday start time up by one hour in the hope of recovering some lost races.
Sunday dawned with no wind as feared, but the breeze gave us a break as it came up enough to allow for two races on each circle before evaporating. The racing was interesting in shifting wind that was hard on the RC. The conditions made the racers work for their results; there was plenty of position-changing, but in the end we had a regatta.
Competitors, unless they have done it themselves, often underestimate the number and the difficulty of the judgment calls the organizers and race committee folks must make so that you can play the game. Look around—most RC staff are older than you and this is a concern for the future. As they age out, their experience and wisdom go with them. The sport needs more folks to take an interest in running things.
We would like to especially thank our PRO Richard Hinterhoeller and his team from NOLSC on A Course, and PRO James Kulwicki with Tom Lewin and Joe Weppner on B Course, along with the rest of their volunteers. We can’t forget Mike and Jan Foley who brought their beautiful Albin 31 signal boat. Sorry we can’t name everyone. RC volunteers came from NOLSC, Buffalo YC, Buffalo Harbor SC, and Sodus Bay YC.
Regatta Chairman Mike Dedario and his group of volunteers on shore did their best to make sure everybody had a good time with three days of parties. The music every afternoon/evening kept folks around. A successful event today requires a combination
of racing and social activities, and we understand that well here. The usual Mount Gay red hats were included, along with drink specials for Dark ‘n Stormies.
We had fleets of J/70s, J/111s, and Beneteau First 36.7s. Twenty one of the 37 entries (57%) were J’s of various models, and the winners of the PHRF Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker fleets were a J/92 and J/24 respectively. We had four J/35s and learned that there are now six J/35s racing in Hamilton. Four Redwing 30s, each well over 50 years of age, competed. The oldest was the classic Eight Metre, Norseman, built in 1930, from RCYC in Toronto. Interestingly, Norseman hailed from Youngstown in the 1950s and ‘60s and had a long string of major wins to its credit in those days.