Low water levels at Huntington Lake cancel 60-year-old Regatta events

Regatta
April 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time in 60 years, extremely low water levels at Huntington Lake are forcing the cancellation of a hugely popular summer boating event, The High Sierra Regatta.

The drastically low lake levels will be devastating for businesses come summer. Much of what's covered in snow right now is typically submerged and the recent snowfall won't bring levels nearly close enough to launch the boats for the decades-old regatta.

Three consecutive years of drought now put Huntington Lake around 33-percent capacity. There will not be enough water to launch the massive sail boats for The High Sierra Regatta, a back-to-back three day weekend event sponsored by the Fresno Yacht Club.

"Well, it's sad," said Yacht Club board member Dave Keran. "It's such an enduring event that's captured so much interest by so many people; we draw people from all over the west coast."

For most of Keran's life the regatta has been at Huntington Lake, every single year. His parents helped found the event in 1953, an event that brings more than a thousand people to the tiny mountain community.

"They won't be there to eat at our restaurants, or do much of anything," Nancy Omachi said. "They'll be gone. It's a lot of money lost."

Omachi owns Huntington Lake Resort, with a restaurant and nine cabins. It's only open during the summer so with these predicted water levels cancelling major summer events tourism dollars this year likely won't be near enough.

But she's trying to take it all in stride, there's a positive she says to what the drought is exposing. "There will be things, as it's a man-made lake, to discover on the lake," Omachi said.

The regatta will be back in 2015 as long as the lake rebounds from the drought.

The resorts that surround and depend on Huntington Lake will be meeting soon to come up with new activities to give people a few new reasons to visit.


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