Sailing Circus Comes to Florida
Published on February 22nd, 2016
The International Lightning Class will soon descend upon South Florida for their annual Southern Circuit. Think week-long circus with enough sailing to keep people busy during the day time.
The 58th Annual Midwinter Championship hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami kicks off the circuit with 3 days of racing on March 14-16. Then the Class caravans across Alligator Alley and regroups for the 69th annual Winter Championship with three more days of racing on March 18-20 hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in at St. Petersburg, FL.
While the regatta and circuit titles are on the line, so is some fun to be had on land. One of the week’s highlight is the annual “Wake Mueller Suds Swap” which has sailors bringing a 6 pack of beer from their home state to share. The 2015 circuit had a total of 47 boats competing in both events with St Pete hosting 67 boats. That’s a lot of suds.
On the water, 2015 Circuit Champion Tito Gonzalez from Chile will be back again to defend his title, with prominent challengers for the 2016 title to include class notables Greg Fisher, Ched Proctor, David Starck, and Allan Terhune Jr. The lineup this year will include teams from Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland and USA.
Critical to the success of any class, beyond good beer, is education. Nick Turney from Quantum Sail Design Group will head up the popular Mentor Program, an initiative the class started three years ago at the Southern Circuit. The program unites class veterans with teams that want to improve or are new to Lightning sailing. Last year 18 teams were paired up with on-the-water and onshore assistance including rig tune, boat set up plus morning weather and afternoon debriefs.
“The mentor program has been eye opening, says Raeyane Farrell from Denver, Colorado. “Each year we continue to learn more tips and tricks. This has brought a whole new level of thinking to our boat. We look forward to it each year!”