Sept 28, 2017
Clarity Stone attended a couple of events in Youngstown this summer and reflects on how they have changed.
I guess it’s true what they say. The only thing that stays the same is change. Regattas are not what they used to be. Gone are they days of 20 boat rafts, tents filing the yacht club grounds and beer trucks lining the streets to serve hundreds of sailors. People just seem otherwise occupied now. There is always a festival going on, a wedding to attend or another commitment. It seems we are always struggling for crew and registration numbers are slipping. As our generation of sailors ages and the millennial age becomes busier and busier, we need to remember why we all attended regattas in the first place; the competition, the fun and the camaraderie.
This year I attended again what was formerly known as the Youngstown Levels, a legendary weekend where we all got away from real life, went sailing, and partied the night away. The July event was a shadow of its former self. Boats were rafted two out and not a beer line in sight. But somehow, we had a weekend to remember. We didn’t try to hold on to what we thought a regatta should be and instead created a whole new style of regatta for ourselves.
First of all, we no longer stay in tents. Our slightly above average crew age members no longer fell the need to slum it camping and the younger half have developed a taste for the high life so now we rent rooms at the top of the hill. We have showers and air conditioning. Regatta life refined.
One of our crew members has a Jeanneau 45.7 called Dolce Vita and he sailed it across to act as “tender” for the weekend. The boat has been completely redone with down duvets and an ice machine.
Following racing, we all showered and got dressed up before heading to what we dubbed “Bistro Dolce”. Our host had two barbecues going, one on the back and one on the front (bow-bq) serving up delicious jerk chicken, roasted potatoes. The bistro then converted into “Club Dolce” and the tunes were rocking all night with disco ball included. We only came in from our mooring when we ran out of wine.
This regatta was so much fun that we thought that we would try it again. September 17-18 Youngstown hosted the Beneteau First 36.7 North American Championships. So off we headed with our 45-foot tender and an excellent team lined up. This time we rented an entire apartment; we stocked the kitchen and were ready to pack lunches for three days of racing 11 boats registered.
The best part of our regatta was the amazing team of sailors that our skipper had assembled. We figured that among us we had over 100 years of sailing experience and everyone had a high capacity sense of humour, essential for three days stuck on a boat together.
The wind-up night of the regatta was a formal dinner hosted in the dining room of YYC. We put on our sailing best to gorge on steak and red wine before declaring ourselves the winner of the best looking crew award. No regatta is complete without a dance party so our crew (mostly the ladies) went over to check out the band and to get a few of our fellow competitors out on the floor.
Richard Reid and his crew on Zingara captured victory at the Beneteau 36.7 North Americans. Although we don’t get out as many boats as we used to, those of us still attending regattas know why we still go. We spent a weekend racing with friends – friends who we can count on for a good laugh who we can trust out on the water to have our backs when the winds come up.
Racing has changed here on Lake Ontario so let’s find ways to keep enjoying what we do best and keep racing. Whether it’s taking shuffleboard lessons from locals at the Stone Jug or starting dance parties like it’s your day job. Remember that it’s the team that you race with and the fun that you have that keep you going backs. Cheers to the Modern Regatta!