YOUNGSTOWN – Following a successful inaugural event last July, the Youngstown Yacht Club is gearing up for the Can Am Challenge Regatta with a free kick-off street dance Thursday.
The four-day event includes the dance from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday; Friday and Saturday night parties at the yacht club, at 491 Water St.; racing Saturday and Sunday; and awards for first, second and third place in each class, and an overall winner named Sunday.
Last year, the Canadians took the title – by just one point.
“We wanted it close and the Canadians won by one point – it was pretty amazing,” said Tim Finkle, event organizer. “It was very tight racing.”
The Can-Am replaced the Youngstown Level Regatta, a mainstay for 40 years, and Finkle said it was very well received. Incidentally, he is the son of Don Finkle, who founded the Level Regatta four decades ago.
“People really liked the new form,” Finkle said. “It was a little more low key. Most of the people who came last year have signed up again this year because they like the new style.”
The Can-Am features one-design racing, which means boats of the same design compete against each other for points, which eventually determine an overall champion. Finkle said sailors are still registering for the event, but he estimates the regatta will host around 15 fleets, including, among others: J 22s, J 70s, J 88s, J 105s, and Beneteau 36.7s. A pursuit course also will allow boats that don’t have enough entries of their type to form a fleet to still compete.
As of last week, more than 100 had registered.
Last year’s weather provided “pretty light breezes, but we still got six to seven races in,” Finkle said. “We try for five to eight.”
Thursday’s dance will feature the Jerry Andres Band, and food and drink for purchase, as well as regatta T-shirts and wristbands for the festivities continuing Friday and Saturday. Awards follow Sunday’s racing.
The event is open to the public, but wristbands are required for those wishing to drink alcohol at the evening parties Friday and Saturday, which also feature live music. The cost of a wristband is $25 and includes free drink tickets.
“Thursday is the village appreciation party,” said organizer Tim Finkle. “We’ve also set aside a little money to make a donation to the Village of Youngstown.”
The event also features a street hockey competition for the sailors around 5 p.m. Saturday, following racing, on yacht club property.
The Canadians won that competition, too, last year.