Programs That Work

Published on August 8th, 2013

In 2008, Justin Coplan became one of the first recipients in the International Lightning Class Association’s Boat Grant Program. Today, Justin is a co-chair of this unique program, which gives enthusiastic young teams an opportunity to sail a race-ready boat in a very strong one-design class.

“I started sailing an Opti when I was 10 years old in the junior program at the Nyack Boat Club in Nyack, New York,” says Justin, who recently moved to Gettysburg, PA. “I also did plenty of cruising with my parents, and started sailing a Laser when I got too big for an Opti. We had very good instructors at Nyack, and there are a lot of very friendly and supportive members of all the fleets who really helped me grow as a sailor. I crewed for Joan and Gary Hurban on their Lightning in my junior and senior years in high school. I can’t think of anyone with as much drive to learn everything there is to know about sailing as Joan and Gary. They have a ‘Go get ‘em!’ attitude, and that rubbed off on me.”

While attending the Rochester Institute of Technology, Justin helped create the school’s sailing team. By the spring of 2006, the fledgling squad was practicing on Lake Ontario and competing on the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association circuit, and the following year Justin was selected as team captain. “We reached out to Rochester Yacht Club for a place to practice and they were very helpful,” he explains.

“I learned about the ILCA Boat Grant Program in 2007, the first year of the program, while crewing for Gary Hurban in my first North Americans. I saw Bob King racing one of the program boats and thought, ‘That’s really cool…I want to drive a Lightning!’ I put together a team with Fiona Gordon and Ellie Turk, juniors I had sailed with at Nyack. We put our sailing resumés together and applied for a grant in December. In March, we found out that we had received a grant.” – Read on

Editor’s note: This past June, Justin with teammates Danielle Pryor and Mike Carney finished second at the 2013 Lightning World Championship, hosted by Club Velico Castiglionese in Castiglione del Lago, Italy. Good story!

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