News

Port Dalhousie saves regatta

By Grant LaFleche, The Standard

Boats from the annual Lake Ontario Short Handed Racing regatta depart Port Dalhousie Sunday morning. Photo by Grant LaFleche.

Boats from the annual Lake Ontario Short Handed Racing regatta depart Port Dalhousie Sunday morning. Photo by Grant LaFleche.

The constant rains have stopped, but the high lake levels are still vexing sailors across Lake Ontario. Many docks remain underwater, keeping fleets of boats on dry land and threatening annual boating events.

But this weekend, Niagara’s marine community wasn’t about to let submerged docks sink a 36-year-old race on the lake.

Each year, around 80 boats launch from Port Credit and race to Youngstown, New York for the annual Lake Ontario Short Handed Racing regatta.

However, the high water levels on Lake Ontario have effectively closed the docks in Youngstown and even made launching boats from Port Credit problematic, says Joe Doris, chair of the regatta.

“It’s a problem all over the lake. A lot of clubs haven’t been able to launch their boats, or the cranes aren’t in working order, and electrical isn’t working, or their docks are underwater. It’s not safe to launch,” he said.

Doris said the event was able to share the regatta launch between the Port Credit and nearby Lakeshore Marina. But with Youngstown unable to accept boats, the event didn’t have a destination.

So the Port Dalhousie Yacht Club stepped in to help.

“If it wasn’t for the Dalhousie Yacht Club and the marina there, we would have had to cancel the event,” Doris said.

Jason Smyth, the learn-to-sail director at the yacht club, said while the fixed docks in Port Dalhousie remain under water — leaving many boats stuck on dry land — the club was eager to help the regatta stay afloat.

Smyth said despite the high water levels Nino Donatelli, owner Port Dalhousie Pier Marina, had docking spaces and made enough of them available for about 50 boats participating in the regatta.

“The marina did a really great job for us,” said Doris. “You can imagine, you have 50 or so boats all arriving at once. That’s a lot to manage. The yacht club put on a great dinner for us. It turned out to be one of the best regattas we’ve had despite the challenges.”

The boats arrived in Port Dalhousie late Saturday morning and departed for Port Credit Sunday morning.