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Most fun regatta I’ve ever sailed

Published on August 2nd, 2023

The 2023 Lightning Class Women’s/Junior’s/ Master’s (WJMs) North American Championships is on August 2-4 in Brick, New Jersey. Ann Siegle shares a memory of when she competed in the 2015 event:

WJM is special – it takes usual Lightning sailors and mixes them up for a better result. Everyone racing there has raced Lightnings elsewhere in different configurations for many years. Putting them together in women’s boats, masters, and juniors (we need a women’s masters now too; I only want to sail two races a day too) really focuses on what those groups can do together, outside their usual crew configurations.

Having raced the WJM as foredeck crew (on my own boat, but skippered by one of the women in our club), I saw how my skipper for that event, an ILCA sailor, went on to buy her own boat, move to Milwaukee and continued to sail her own boat there on the big lake!

I had the pleasure of racing with a top-notch middle crew, an experienced offshore racer with a great and fun attitude at WJM too.

Onboard our boat, rather than the usual barking from my other half in the back of the boat, our guest skipper brought roast chicken, cut up veggies in a spread of food that we laid out on the centerboard trunk as we took a beautiful broad reach across Tawas Bay between races.

No one has ever made me roast chicken for sailing. Ever! All we needed was a chandelier to hang from the pole and we’d have been all set.

On an offset mark rounding, as I was concentrating on putting the pole on and directing our skipper to the offset, she veered off, and I looked back to see our grinning middle crew breast-stroking her way back to the boat – having fallen off during the spinnaker hoist!

We laughed so hard; we could not sail for the first few boat lengths after we hauled her aboard. That never happens on my boat, in our usual configuration. Someone (in the back) would have been screaming his fool head off about losing boat lengths, and instead, we were laying in the boat laughing our heads off over the incident. The press boat, following us, somehow “lost” the photos (I think the middle crew who fell off, paid him off!)

WJM is pretty dang special. It was the most fun regatta I’ve ever sailed in before or since.

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