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Published: 3/25/2007

Breezes eventually give sailors a lift at Owens Regatta

Three skippers from Owens Community College have their sailboats in tight quarters as they race against Michigan State. Three skippers from Owens Community College have their sailboats in tight quarters as they race against Michigan State.
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Kayleigh White of the University of Michigan team, left, from Monroe, joins Ryan Lashaway, from Perrysburg, of Owens to install a batten on a sail at the regatta on the Ottawa River. Fifty college students had a boatload of fun sailing in yesterday's breezy, mild temperatures - this is the warmest weekend yet this year - during the first regatta ever hosted by Owens Community College. Kayleigh White of the University of Michigan team, left, from Monroe, joins Ryan Lashaway, from Perrysburg, of Owens to install a batten on a sail at the regatta on the Ottawa River. Fifty college students had a boatload of fun sailing in yesterday's breezy, mild temperatures - this is the warmest weekend yet this year - during the first regatta ever hosted by Owens Community College.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"The conditions couldn't be better," Ben Mercer, one of three young men who founded the Owens Sailing Club last year, said of the races, which are the opening event of the season for the seven participating sailing clubs.

The morning didn't start out that way. The sailors, who had hoped to get on the water at

9:30 a.m., were disappointed to realize the Ottawa River was perfectly calm near the Jolly Roger Sailing Club on Edgewater Drive in Point Place.

It was so calm that they could see the reflections of the houses across the river in the water.

But within two hours the winds in the Toledo area picked up to 15 mph, with gusts up to 21 mph, according to the National Weather Service, and the sailors could see the ripples and dark spots in the river that help them determine the wind's direction.

The regatta is to continue this morning with weather that is expected to be a little warmer and might draw more spectators to the event that's free and open to the public. But forecasts call for less wind, which might not be as good for the sailors.

The event drew extra teams because another weekend regatta in Wisconsin was canceled due to ice. Sailors came from the University of Iowa, Penn State University, Ohio University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and University of Toledo, as well as the hosting Owens team.

The students are staying with host families and Owens is providing five meals, an Owens stocking cap, sail logos, and trophies for the top finishers who are to be determined today.

Entry fees of $10 per student, which will come to about $500, were collected. And Owens is covering the remainder of the costs, which are expected to total $2,000 to $3,000. A recent tuition increase provided more funds for the two-year college to cover such club expenses, organizers said.

The real money is in the sailors' gear, which many have purchased themselves. Ryan Lashaway, another founder of the Owens Sailing Club, said he has about $700 just in what he wears to sail, including wet suit boots and a high-cut life jacket that allows more movement. His sunglasses alone cost $250.

But the regatta is more than sailing a quarter mile on the river in series of races that take about 15 minutes each, according to Betsy Bradley.

She was preparing yesterday's lunch for the regatta, which was a family affair for the Bradleys of Monroe County's LaSalle Township.

Her nephew Bryan Bradley is one of the founding Owens club members. She has two sons sailing on competing teams: Kevin with Owens and Karl with the University of Toledo. Another son, Eric, who is home on leave from the Navy, is an official.

"Sailing has a lot of life lessons because the conditions are always changing and you've got to take what you get and do the best you can with it," Mrs. Bradley said. "You have to be very adaptable to whatever gets thrown your way."

- Jane Schmucker



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