Greg Fisher wins Lightning North American Championship
Published on August 15th, 2014
Sheboygan, WI (August 15, 2014) – The warning signal for the last day of racing at the 2014 Lightning North American Championship was moved up again to 0900 in hopes that the breeze on Lake Michigan for the 107 boat fleet would show up. It started out slowly, with two shifty, light air races. The local team of Todd Wake, his wife Kristine and Neal Fowler won the first Championship fleet race of the day. Jody Starck, Ian Jones and Skip Dieball won the second.
Going into the third and final race of the day, the sea breeze developed for the first time all week – a nice 12-15 knot breeze from the south. A perfect stage was set for the 6th and final race of the series. Ten different boats or a 1/3 of the Championship fleet mathematically had the opportunity to win the title. The first start was a general recall and the race committee, pressed for time, hoisted the Black Flag.
The strategy for Greg Fisher, and his crew wife Jo Ann and Zeke Horowitz, was to keep an eye on certain teams that they felt might excel in the sea breeze conditions. They didn’t have a very good start, explained Fisher. They dipped the fleet on port and were able to find a good lane. They kept passing a few boats, but couldn’t catch the lead group. They crossed the finish line with 7 boats ahead of them and felt confident that without a high throw out, they likely had finished in the top five.
Jody Starck and her team of Ian Jones and Skip Dieball sailed a great race and crossed the line first. This would have clinched the title for the team, but they received a black flag penalty. The Chilean Team of Tito Gonzalez, his daughter Trinidad and longtime crew of Cristian Herman also crossed the line in the top five, but received the same black flag penalty. With the starting penalties of Starck and Gonzalez, Fisher’s team moved up to a 6th place finish. Their consistency throughout this regatta equaled a first place finish for Greg and his team.
The team from the University of Vermont, Michael Zonnenberg, Michael Booker and Adam Ceely posted a 18-29 in the final two races to let their overall lead slip and finish in 2nd place. A fantastic achievement for these newcomers in this field of veteran competitors. Current Lightning World Champion, David Stark and his team of Debbie Probst and Sarah Paisley, won the day with a 6-2-5 to move from 28th to 3rd overall.
This fleet had to be one of the most talented in recent one-design racing, reported Fisher. “With at least 16 World, 19 North American or National Champions, 3 Olympians and 3 Rolex Yachtsman/woman winners competing, we felt fortunate our consistency helped us survive some of the tough breaks our friends faced.” This is Fisher’s second Lightning North American Championship, 24 years later.
This series qualified 3 countries for the 2015 Pan American Games in the Lightning Division. The United States, Chile and Brazil all secured slots along with the host Country of Canada. The final three qualifying slots will be filled at the South American Championship at the Salinas Yacht Club in Ecuador on December 3-7. The US will choose the Lightning Team to represent the US during the Lightning Winter Championship on March 14-17, 2015 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
With 107 boats, the event had a very diverse field. In addition to Fisher’s statistics: 15 teams were all under the age of 30, 2 teams were under 20. 14 teams were comprised of all family members and 8 females were at the helm. The Lightning Boat Grant program produced 19 competitors.
Championship Fleet Final Results (Top 10 of 35; 6 races, 1 discard)
1. Greg Fisher Fisher / Jo Ann Fisher / Zeke Horowitz – 13, 14, 5, 10, 10, 6,  ; 44
2. Michael Zonnenberg / Michael Booker / Adam Ceely – 10, 3, 8, 7, 18, 29,  ; 46
3. David Starck / Debbie Probst / Sarah Paisley – 25, 9, 32, 6, 2, 5,  ; 47
4. Rob Crane / Kelly Crane / Brenda Crane – 7, 5, 28, 20, 8, 7,  ; 47
5. Jody Lutz / Jay Lutz / Julianne MacDonald – 28, 2, 13, 14, 19, 2,  ; 50
6. Ed Adams / Ben Cesare / Nancy Haberland – 8, 7, 18, 27, 6, 11,  ; 50
7. Tim Scanlon / Sam Williams / Bernie Roesler – 23, 28, 1, 5, 14, 9,  ; 52
8. Jody Starck / Ian Jones / Skip Dieball – 12, 18, 2, 22, 1, 36/BFD,  ; 55
9. Pablo Herman / Luis Felipe Herman / Mathias Robertson – 14, 16, 16, 8, 26, 1,  ; 55
10. Adam MacDonald / Abby Bennett / Sam Jones – 35, 1, 11, 18, 13, 13,  ; 56
Report by class media.