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Formula for Sustained Growth

Published on July 19th, 2016

For nearly 80 years, the Lightning Class continues to provide sailors with a quality boat, suitable racing, and friendships that extend for generations. The class’s successful formula was on display at the 46-boat Atlantic Coast Championship on July 15-17 in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

The Beginning:
Greg Fisher (College of Charleston, Director of Sailing) and Brian Hayes (North Sails One Design) led a clinic for the early arriving teams. These clinics, know to the class as Lightning Labs, are very intuitive seminars directed at performance in the Lightning. This session began with a short shore session where Greg and Brian talked about a few nuances of sail trim and fine tune controls in breezy conditions. The 12 boats then hit the water for practice starts and four races with Greg and Brian coaching and videotaping. The clinic wrapped up late in the afternoon with an hour long video debrief about sail trim and boat handling.

The Middle:
A mostly amateur fleet with a few longtime industry class members. Three races on Saturday and two races on Sunday that had five different winners, all suitably hosted by Carolina Yacht Club that demonstrated true southern hospitality throughout the event in preparation of hosting the 2017 Lightning North American Championship.

The End:
The overall winner with scores of 5-3-10-2-6 was Gordon Wolcott from Virginia Beach with his crew Elizabeth “Lizzie” Chambers from Mooresville, NC and Chris Stessing from Buffalo, NY. What is more notable is how this team is one of the 2016 Boat Grant Teams, a program designed to fund young sailors who want to experience the high level of competition offered by the Lightning Class. The grant program awards young teams with a competitive boat, insurance, mentoring, and substantial regatta expense reimbursement. This was only their second event they have sailed in a Lightning and the first major event in the class.

The Formula:
A culture of support, an easy number of races to get people back onshore for hospitality and camaraderie, and a focus toward recruitment and growth.

Greg Fisher interviews the winners:

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