Monday, February 20, 2006

The Youngstown Level Regatta - An Experience on Wind

The Youngstown Level Regatta - An Experience on Wind
by Christopher J. Bradley

While I was not fortunate enough to own or be a member of a crew of a
boat this year in Youngstown, I have to remain in awe of the motions
of this sea going community from beginning to conclusion of events
this past Saturday. The water and the wind, and the birds and the
insects, and the sun and the sky itself, could do nothing less than
bring me one step closer to God.

I spent this time in contemplation of the tall ships whose anchors
kept them buoyant upon the waters off the point of Williams Marina for
most of the early morning. My drink of choice was Diet Pepsi. The real
exposition in my opinion was the preparation for launch. I watched the
local and foreign competitors emerge from their tents on the bank of
the lake and come to meet me at the picnic table that I'd chosen two
days earlier with a friend. They shared their breakfast with me,
polish sausage, poppy cake and dill pickles.

The polish team, fored by an engineer, was on a ship with Music notes
painted on the side, whose back was slooped like a violin's body. I
asked him about the dynamics of water and wind, and he called them
fluid dynamics. I cannot pretend to understand everything he said,
but, I am enjoying the competitive atmosphere and the tension in the
air, as more and more of the shipsmen come out of their tents and
begin toying with the riggings.

Another of the competitors was a beautiful red headed Canadian. She
and her boyfriend, with spiked hair, who looked like Johnny Rotten
from the Sex Pistols exchanged a few lyrics with me. I showed them my
earth shoes and hoped that they would spread the word. The girl and
her team looked like a team of ravers straight out of Atlantis when I
was young. I am glad that I had a chance to meet them briefly, I would
have liked to see them place third or better, unfortunately, their
place was about sixth.

A lot of the situation has to do with wind, and weather the sails can
handle the stress. More than one sail was ripped this afternoon, and
one Mast was even cracked and bent over completely. And these boats
are not small, and by far, not weak. Most are two or three minivans
long. And they are tethered six or seven deep on the docks because of
the sheer number of them that turn out for the race. The spirit is
purely American and Canadian in nature. It is possible that this
happens in other countries, but the people here, tended to mention
free trade quite a bit.

For this weekend at least, Youngstown was Americas city. Even the
children participated, some young girls maybe 7 or 8 years old were
industriously selling ICE along the docks to those ships that were
coming and going, and the fishers casting out into the open waters. I
spoke to three of them and they told me of a medical business they
were in. People from Lockport passed by and introduced me to the
sheriff who invited me to get a pass for the Yacht Club itself. I
couldn't have been happier to share in the good times starting there
around five o'clock when the ships returned.

I met the captains of Pennies Five and the Green Machine, and a team
from Port Hope. I met the Canadians and the Polish team again. The
team from Port hope made me an excellent pineapple daquiri and told me
about their flower and furniture businesses. Placing well in the races
seemed to most, less important, than enjoying the sport of sailing
itself. Everyone wanted to win the flag though. The Youngstown Level
Regatta happens once a year, and I am sorry myself for never seeing it

Earlier in the day when I was still sitting and watching the ships
come in, I spoke with a woman and her daughter. They were from Ottawa
and own real estate in Florida. We had an extended conversation about
the political platform that I would challenge either candidate to take
up. The platform is Housing Education Literacy Medicine - HELM. We
were both fairly confident that John Kerry will be the next president.
This is a viewpoint I espoused to several of my new friends, and I
hold it with pride.

Another woman and her son from Niagara Falls spoke of her concerns
that the war is affecting America adversely. I could not disagree. And
her discussion brought me to a new idea of my own. This idea stems from
the possibility of the revision of the United Nations to a version
2.0. My idea was that the United Nations could expand the Security
council to include rather than 5 countries, 20 countries, so that the
United Nations might become more egalitarian and equalized in the
increasingly globalized human condition.

Back at the Yacht club, I learned that there had been four races on
the wind, separating the boats by size class, for fairness and
effectiveness. One ship called the Quantum Leap was particularly
impressive set upon the dock. While I did not have a chance to step
onto any of the ships, I took several pictures with my digital camera,
while they were at sea as the wind swept them about off of the point
of Fort Niagara.

All in all, Saturday was one of the best days I've ever had locally,
it was enough fun to draw me back to Youngstown on Sunday for a game
of chess and a cup of coffee with my friend Scott Ansel at Brennens
where it is particularly affordable. While we were there, I learned
that the new Tom Cruise movie Collateral starts August 6th. Just in
time for my next paycheck. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I will
definitely be around for round 2 in 2005.