For those Lightning sailors who have been members of the class for a long time, you’ve seen the rise and decline of fleets in various areas, but in one area in particular, the Lightning is making a comeback. Fleet 52 at the Rochester Yacht Club in the Central New York District is seeing a revival with some fun, young sailors! According to John Newell, a recent Lightning owner and Fleet 52 member, Lightning sailing in Rochester is gaining momentum.
“Fleet 52 at Rochester YC was an active Fleet back in the 1940s but died out at some point. With several active RYC members owning Lightnings and the upcoming NAs, the fleet was re-activated this spring,” John says. Rochester has some long time Lightning sailors like Bob and Sarah King and Cory and Mark Sertl that have helped keep the class visible in the Rochester area. They were joined by John who purchased 15395 in the spring of 2015 and Jimmy Barnash, reigning World Champion, who purchased 15083 in the fall of 2015.
“There’s definitely been a buzz around RYC with the upcoming NAs, and many juniors and older sailors alike have gotten involved in the fleet racing. Several other members with older boats that have sat in storage for years are currently working to get their boats out. There are also a couple more boats that have joined the fleet, including Liam Faudre and Danny Lawless. We’re sharing a course with the Sonars and J24s on Tuesday nights , and are trying to set up some weekend practice events/mini regattas.”
Last week they had four boats out with 8 people 30 years old or younger! There is a lot of talent in their group as well, John says, “after three races, 1 point separated 1st through 4th.” Fleet 52 has been represented at the Central NY district regattas as well of the Long John Regatta, Pymatuning, and the Lake Erie Districts.
John got into Lightning sailing in the early 2000s and has crewed at various events over the years. He credits folks like the Healys, Dick Halligan, and Dan Pope for getting him into the class and helping him as a Junior. “I crewed a few regattas here and there, and then was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to skipper in the 2004 Junior NAs at the BCC. We got even luckier and somehow managed to win that regatta so that certainly got me interested in sticking with the Lightning. I was also able to put a team together for the 2005 Juniors in Milwaukee, once again getting a lot of help from members of the class to make that happen. I took quite a few years off from Lightning sailing after that with college, work, and other sailing endeavors, but always intended to get back into the class.”
“In hindsight, I really wish I had tried to take advantage of the Lightning Boat Grant Program. Once I finally had some money and, most importantly, a wife that was interested in racing, I could justify buying a boat. For me some of the biggest influences to buy a Lightning were the fact that I can race it competitively with my wife, the high level of competition in the class, and all of the great people in the class that really make going to any event a pleasure.”
The Lightning Class sure has some great people, and we’re so happy to have John back racing with us! There is nothing better than seeing families and people of all generations excited about Lightning sailing, and we’re psyched to see such great Rochester talent coming into our class. Thanks, John for sharing with us!
Still looking for crew? Wanting to crew and don’t have a boat? Sign up at the logistics board!
For more information, please visit the regatta websites.