The box the Comet came in
Published on May 9th, 2021
The Scuttlebutt Archives hosts over 20 years of sailing news but it doesn’t hold a candle to the knowledge and experiences of Donald Street who shares a story about some of the classic one design classes in the USA:
It was in 1933 when the Comet was designed by C. Lowndes Johnson. This 16-foot arc bottomed centerboarder, with its chines, small jib, big main, and running backstays which drew comparison to the Star boat, was originally called Little Star but the Star Class objected so the name was changed to Comet, a class that is still strong in the Chesapeake and Barnegat Bay.
In 1938, Olin Stephens designed the Lightning, a 19-foot arc bottom centerboarder with a more modern rig hoisting a fairly large jib and with a main small enough that a permanent backstay could be installed.
In the 1940s, immediately after World War II, both classes expanded rapidly and were active in the big western Long Island Sound regattas such as Larchmont and Manhasset Bay Race Week.
Highlighting their class pride, Comet sailors would refer to the larger Lightning as “the box the Comet came in.”