YYC’s Sailing Heritage

YYC has a strong heritage of Racing and Cruising.  Many of our members are active in both fleets.  Located below Niagara Falls, where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, YYC is guarded by Old Fort Niagara.  The Fort, which since the 1700’s has been occupied by the French, English and now Americans, continues to serve as a strong reminder of our local heritage. Don’t be surprised to hear cannons and muskets firing away as you’re sailing by on a lovely sunny day — the many reenactments staged throughout the summer draw participants nationwide!

Lake Ontario offers some of the best sailing in the Northeast. While Ontario is an inland lake, it’s not characterized by the shifty, puffy breezes of most inland lakes; it’s more akin to sailing on a small fresh water ocean, without the fog, tide or cold water! Prevailing winds are 8-10 knots from the southwest, providing smooth seas and easy-to-read puffs, and the lower Niagara River offers several miles of splendid sailing on protected waters, making for lovely afternoon sails and comfortable evening cruises.

YYC’s location places cruising and racing sailors in close proximity to numerous delightful ports, well worth visiting on an overnight venture or a more extended vacation. Lake Ontario offers interesting cruising grounds, virtually its entire circumference, from Port Dalhousie, only 12 miles from the mouth of the river, to Toronto Harbor only 26 miles away, to the incredible Thousand Islands at the far-most corner of the lake.

The YYC was founded to support the racing needs of its charter members, and the YYC’s racing heritage continues and is stronger than ever. The YYC is one of the most recognized racing clubs on the Great Lakes, and was recently listed as one of the top 50 yacht clubs in North America. In our 70-year history, we have hosted some of the best run, most talked about sailing events in North America.

The PHRF and large one-design boats from YYC and Niagara-On-The-Lake Sailing Club race together on an Olympic Circle located approximately 2nm north-east of the mouth of the Niagara River. Summer weeknight racing kicks off on Tuesday nights with our ‘main & jib’ racing program. It is common for this program to attract over 20 boats on nice evenings. Tuesday night JAM racing is open to anyone that pays the $35.00 racing fee to help with committee costs. (Race Committee labor is thirsty work!) It’s a great way to get more time out on your boat and bring out new people to sailing. Tuesday racing is intentionally casual so it remains fun.

The ‘big’ weeknight program is the inter-club racing on Wednesday nights. Turnout is in excess of 50 boats including Shark (one-design), C&C 29s (one-design), Beneteau 36.7 (one design), PHRF 1,2, and 3 fleets as well as a growing “white sails only” fleet. It is interesting to note that the J22s race on their own course Thursday evenings very near Fort Niagara, and generally have three windward-leeward races.

Weekend racing consists of one-day Inter-Club races, the South Shore Yacht Racing Series ( a series of point to point races to various clubs on the lake), our trademark ‘Sprint’ series, the Niagara Hospice Cup, the Niagara Cup and a host of other serious and lightweight events to round out the season.

With premium sailing venues like Toronto and Rochester near at hand, there are terrific regional Lake Ontario Racing events to compete in. Many or our members are truly ‘world class’ sailors. It is common for the 420, Laser and J-22 sailors as well as many of the PHRF sailors to travel about the country or indeed the world to compete at the very highest levels.

The defining competitive event at the YYC is the CanAm Challenge. The CanAm replaced the Level Regatta after 40 successful years. Held annually on the 4th full weekend of July, and winner of the prestigious USYRU (US Sailing) One-Design award, this world class event was spawned by the IOR Ton Class ‘one-design’ racing format. The precursor to the popular NOOD (National Offshore One Design) Regattas, over the years, the Youngstown Level Regatta evolved into one of the largest keelboat regattas in North America. With free music and very inexpensive adult beverages for the weekend, the party (rumored to have once been on the Rolling Stone top ten best parties list) is as world class as competition itself.