Lightning: Preparing for Adult Spring Break

Published on March 3rd, 2014

The Lightning is among a handful of one design classes that was designed a long time ago (1938), lacks all the modern attributes like asymmetrical spinnakers and trapeze wires, but remains the most active associations in the sport.

There are three things you need to know about Lightnings: Don’t sit over the centerboard in shallow water; ideal three-person crew weight allows for a mix of gender and sizes; and the class is eager to support its less experienced members.

This later point is highlighted in a program the class operates during its annual Winter Circuit, which is nothing more than adult spring break in Florida with some sailing to keep people busy before the parties.

Things kick off with the Miami Midwinter Regatta on Sunday-Tuesday (March 16-18) before the road trip across Alligator Alley and north to St Petersburg for the Winter Lightning Championship on Thursday-Saturday (March 20-22).

The class started the mentor program during the 2013 Winter Circuit, in which each team that participated had one-on-one coaching throughout the events. This complimentary plan continues in 2014, where each team can have dedicated assistance with rig tune, set up, boat speed, sail trim and tactics. There is no fee to the program, and in fact, most of the mentors are racing too. This cycling of support within the ranks is what creates the kind of community that keeps a class like the Lighting strong.

What’s also notable is the Lightning is an International class, which attributed to the current world champions (David and Jody Starck) being nominated as US Sailing’s 2013 Rolex Yachtsman & Yachtswoman of the Year (and Jody winning the women’s award). The Starcks involvement in the program as mentors speaks volumes for the commitment within the class.

The class is also among the 10 events competing in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, which is the ‘Olympic Games for the Americas’. There may be additional interest in St. Petersburg this year as that event in 2015 will be the U.S. qualifier for the Games.

So if you are on the interstates that aim toward the southeast corner of the U.S., you might pull over if you see a Lightning trailer in your rearview mirror. They are in a hurry to party.

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