Niagara Gazette

July 23, 2011

SLIDESHOW: All hands on deck for Youngstown's regatta

By James Neiss
Niagara Gazette

YOUNGSTOWN — More than 2,000 sailors and their supporters were expected in the village this weekend for the 37th Youngstown Level Regatta.

It's one of the largest sailboat races in North America.

The event was started 37 years ago, after Youngstown Yacht Club member Don Finkle and his racing partner had traveled to several regattas and realized there were no such events in the region. He approached his club with the idea of starting one.

“I was an enthusiastic guy in my 20s,” he recalled with a laugh. “I went to the club and they said, ‘sure, if you want to do the work, go ahead.’ ”

Finkle has been leading the effort since then, and the regatta has become one of the largest in North America requiring year-long planning and nearly 200 volunteers. The five courses offered by the  club make the event more appealing to sailors, he said, grouping boats capable of similar speeds on the same course.

Racing will take place in several predetermined courses set up for boats according to their size, class and numbers. Starts take place promptly at intervals of three to five minutes

Organizers said the races, being held Saturday and Sunday, can be easily viewed from Fort Niagara and added that those wishing to watch from boats on the water are welcome to do so.