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Come Sail Away 

Junior Regatta participants get their feet wet.

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Junior Bay Week winds down over the next couple of days as more than 175 of the region’s top teen sailors compete in the Inter-Lake Yachting Association/GMC Junior Regatta on Lake Erie. Today, 13- to 19-year-old skippers race four-mile heats between Put-in-Bay and Rattlesnake Island. The boaters with the fastest times in three different classes advance to tomorrow’s finals -- where they’ll vie for silver goblets and a chance to compete in next week’s U.S. Sailing Sears, Bemis & Smythe Championships in Rochester, New York. “The Lake Erie race is single-handedly the most competitive in all of the United States,” says Ron Spies, the regatta’s organizer.

But watch out for rough weather. If the wind whips around at more than 25 knots-per-hour, choppy waters may force a race delay until the storm front passes. The competitors welcome the interruption, says Spies. “The kids absolutely love high winds. I’ve had them out on the race course when the wind is at 22 knots, and they’re screaming and having a good time.” Spectators can catch the action at Put-in-Bay Park or nearby Gibraltar Island. Or they can take a chance on a free ride, courtesy of the island’s yacht club. “If there happens to be a boat available,” says Spies, “we’ll get you out on the lake to watch the race.”
July 17-18, 7:30 a.m.

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