Eighteen boats from around New England and Quebec competed on June 5-6 in the annual “Lightning Spring Regatta”, sponsored by Lake Champlain Fleet 301.
Ideal conditions greeted the racers on Saturday with winds of 12 to 20 knots and air temperature in the mid 80’s. Malletts Bay Boat Club members Marty Olsen, Jim Finch and Charly Dickerson served as the race committee for the event, while Bove’s Restaurant provided the traditional lasagna dinner after Saturday’s racing.
The fleet raced five races on Saturday sailing Olympic and windward-leeward courses. The breezy conditions accounted for a number of capsizes as well as a variety of minor collisions. The racing was very close, with the top 10 boats being overlapped during the first windward leg.
The Lightning is an older one-design class that has been careful to modify their rules and building regulations to ensure that older boats can remain competitive while keeping current with modern building techniques. Many of the boats have adequate built-in floatation that enable them to recover form a capsize and continue racing. The “bumps and bruises” from close one-design racing are usually minor and competitors continue racing.
Sunday featured winds in the 18-30 knot area, keeping the fleet ashore. Bill Fastiggi, the USA representative in the Lightning Class in the 1999 Pam-Am Games, conducted a seminar on sail trim for the racers while they waited for the winds to diminish. The series was called at 1100 when Marty Olsen reported winds of 30 knots. Although the Lightning can sail in that amount of breeze, they are difficult to manage and crews are assured of practicing their swimming techniques.
Fleet 301 sponsors Lightning races on Thursday evenings during the MBBC Midweek Series, as well as a Sunday series throughout the summer. This year the fleet will host the New England District Championship’s July 9, 10 & 11. Thirty boats are expected to attend this regatta. Many boats will return on October 9-10 for a final regatta of the year, dubbed “The Leaf Peeper”.