Lightning Worlds come to Lake Erie
Published on July 20th, 2015
Ridgeway, Ontario (July 20, 2015) – As the sun rises tomorrow, the colors of 12 countries will fly on the boardwalk at the Buffalo Canoe Club, flanking the competitors from 5 continents as they walk to their vessels and prepare for the first race of sailing’s 2015 Lightning World Championship.
Preceded by the Masters World Championship, the regatta on July 21-25 will test the abilities of top sailors from the U.S. to Nigeria to Chile. This event marks the pinnacle of competition and success in the large, active, and advanced fleet of over fifteen hundred members of the International Lightning Class worldwide.
Sixty-seven boats will attempt to claim the title as the top Lightning team in the world during this five day, nine-race regatta. Reigning World Champion and Regatta chair, David Starck shared how the “Buffalo Canoe Club is perhaps the nicest place to sail on the planet. The prevailing southwest wind aligns with the lake and creates fabulous sailing conditions. And it’s fresh water, which is a treat.”
This star-studded fleet contains dozens of former world champions and renowned, respected skippers and crew. Among the competitors: 5 time World Champion, Tito Gonzalez (CHI). 2 time World Champion and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Jeff Linton (USA). World Champions Larry MacDonald and Peter Hall (CAN). Jody Starck, three time Rolex Yachtswomen of the year from the US. 2012 U.S. Olympian (Laser Class) Rob Crane. 4 time North American Champion, Ched Proctor. 3 time NA Champion Alan Terhune. 2 time NA Champions Jim Crane, Greg Fisher, Jody Lutz and NA Champions Tom Allen and Jeff Becker.
Jamie Allan (CAN) and Tito Gonzalez (CHI) are coming into the regatta on the heels of sailing Lightning’s in the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Newcomer to the Lightning Class, Raul Rios (PUR) just sailed to Gold (Snipe) in Toronto. Rios was awarded a developmental slot to the competition.
David Dellenbaugh (US) and Juan Santos (ECU) just tied for first in the International Master Championship that was just held July 17-19, also at the Buffalo Canoe Club.
However, this regatta is more than a test of the skills of top sailors. The Lightning class has a community feel and the upcoming Worlds will be as much a social event as it is a fierce competition. ILCA president Debbie Probst remarks, “Sailing in the Lightning class is the perfect combination of great people, hot competition, and fantastic venues; the World Championships will bring together the best of these three elements to produce a legendary regatta.”
There are many first time Lightning World Championship skippers too – 16 will be vying for the coveted Karl Smither Award – awarded to the first time skipper placing the highest in the competition. Among those are Marvin Beckman 2013 (Etchells) World Champion, Adam MacDonald, 2012 Youth World Champion, Tanner Probst, current Junior NA Champion, Mike Zonnenberg, 2014 North American Runner-up and Ed Roseberry, Jr., age 75 – who has qualified for the Worlds a few times but never wanted to travel away from the BCC during the summer months. Now he will have his chance to sail in the Worlds at his home club.
Thirty-one boats or 46% of the fleet is sailing with 2 or more family members aboard – of which 4 are all family boats. 58 or nearly 29% of the fleet are female. Five women are skippering boats and 2 are all female teams. And, impressively, there are 2 all-junior teams.
PRO Jeff Borland and the organizers of this regatta are striving to make it a classic event that will be remembered for years to come. Coming off a huge success hosting the 2014 Lightning Youth Worlds Championships last summer, the Buffalo Canoe Club is expected by many to incorporate high quality racing, creative and plentiful entertainment, and a communal atmosphere that will ensure a successful regatta.
Report by Tanner Probst and Laura Jeffers.