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Grosse Pointe Farms

Dinghies to make waves in Lake St. Clair during national competition

March 20, 2013

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Small boats will be making a big splash in Lake St. Clair this summer.

The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club in Grosse Pointe Shores and the Grosse Pointe Youth Nautical Foundation have been chosen to host the 2013 United States Optimist Dinghy Association National Championships July 6-14. The program is aimed at sailors ages 8-15. Because the sailors will be traveling from the GPYC to roughly Crescent Sail Yacht Club in the Farms, GPYC officials addressed the Farms City Council at a meeting March 11.

“This is an activity we’re very excited about,” GPYC Commodore Bill Vogel told the council.

He said more than 450 young sailors and their parents are expected to be in town for the week, along with their coaches. This is the first time the regatta has taken place in Michigan.

“This is the farthest north this event has ever been,” Vogel said.

The three major activities are the USODA Team Race National Championships July 6-9, the USODA Girls National Championship July 10, and the USODA Open Fleet National Championship July 11-14. Organizers say Optimist dinghies are “the biggest and fastest-growing sailboat class in the world,” and more than 85 percent of Olympic medal winners are former Optimist sailors.

Locally, the event is being chaired by GPYC Past Commodore Jim Morrow. Blaise Klenow, the committee co-chair, said this event is expected to be a boon to the local economy. When it was held last year in Sandusky, he said it brought about $3-4 million worth of revenue to that region.

“This is a good thing for the Grosse Pointes and also the area. … We have restaurants and other services that people will be enjoying,” Klenow said.

He said some Grosse Pointe residents might even opt to rent their houses out to competition participants.

Because the event will create additional traffic on Lake Shore, GPYC officials are communicating and coordinating with city officials in the impacted communities.

During at least one of the races, more than 400 of the small boats are expected to be on the lake simultaneously, making for an impressive sight.

“We look forward to it,” Klenow said of the competition.

Officials also believe this will be positive for the community.

“It’s great,” Mayor James Farquhar said.

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