North-powered Teams Dominate Grassroots Circuit Events In Miami and St. Petersburg
For many the annual pilgrimage south to the Lightning Southern Circuit is a tradition (to steal from a famous golf tournament) like no other! So, our team of Steve Kirkpatrick, Lightning legend Neal Fowler and myself decided that we needed to head to Florida and see what all the fuss was about. Since two of us were newbies to the boat, class and events we quickly found out what it was all about. It seems the Lightning Winter Championships and Midwinters, the two events that comprise the Southern Circuit, are all about great competition, tremendous comradery, and serious grassroots fun!
Unique to this event, the ILCA sponsors a program called the “Mentor Program” which is run, on a volunteer basis, by Nick Turney of Nick Turney Sailing Services. Nick provided on-the-water assistance, coaching, clinics, and racing briefings each day and everyone who signed up for the program learned a lot from the group briefings and individual attention. Helping sailors get up to speed to contend with the experienced sailors seems to be the prevalent theme in the class and the support and openness of the top sailors, who were often guest panelists for the program, really seemed a positive way to create a fun, learning experience for everyone on the scoreboard.
For us, the circuit allowed us to experience what a special class the ILCA is. Lightning sailors, to me, seem a special breed and the entire atmosphere of the events seems to be about some good old fashioned racing buddies working with each other to help the fleet grow. As I walked around the boat park it was easy enough to find sailors helping sailors, asking questions, sharing tricks, etc. This is what helps to grow the class! Our team benefitted from this spirit when, in Miami on the way out to the race course, our main halyard broke. We sailed in to find only 2 or 3 teams still on the dock but all of them quickly jumped in to help as we flipped the boat at the dock and several folks held our, now sideways, Lightning steady while Steve and Tom Allen (boat builder extraordinaire) tied the main to the top of the mast and pushed us off so we would not miss any races!
Winter Championship – St. Petersburg Yacht Club- March 24-26
The Winter Championship, hosted by St. Petersburg Yacht Club, was a nice way to kick off the series as 52 teams descended upon Tampa Bay traveling from far and wide to race with friends and family.
Light air greeted the fleet on Saturday, yet still provided racing conditions in the later afternoon to allow us to get in one race and get the series started. Day two was very much the same, with winds on the lighter side and shifty from the ESE, still allowing for great racing conditions as the day progressed. Monday arrived with fog which burned off as the day went on, bringing a little more wind than what was originally predicted. Once the sun came out and heated things up, the wind died off, but still gave the fleet two more solid races to conclude the event.
Congratulations to clients from team Argentina, Javier Conte, Julio Alsogaray, and Paula Salerno for taking first overall. In second was Team PatStrong with David Starck, PJ Shaffer, and Kelly Barnash. In third, fleet newcomers, Church of the Great Outdoors, with Steve Kirkpatrick, Neal Fowler, and Hillary Noble.
Congratulations also to Masters Division winner and “Lightning King of the South”, Ched Proctor with team Abigail Preston and Jeff Eiber on the swift Veggie Sub.
Special thank you to Todd Fedeszyn and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and Sailing Center volunteers for your outstanding job running races and setting the courses. In what certainly were trying race conditions, their race management experience and overall understanding of the area and weather patterns made it so everyone was dealt a good hand.
North-powered teams finished 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 this year at the St. Petersburg Winter Championship. Well done!
The Midwinters hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami was also a not-to-miss event, with 29 boats competing in hopes finding idyllic Biscayne Bay conditions and looking to either improve their series standings or hold of the charge of their nearest competitors. Several new teams joined in with those who travelled across the state from the Winter Champs making for a fun and fresh new start to the 2018 Midwinter Championship.
Breeze was quite “fresh” on Wednesday as teams enjoyed hiking hard through the puffy and wavy conditions. An easterly wind direction was the end result, as over the three days of racing the wind slowly clocked right, making for a beautiful southeasterly pressure that allowed for great racing conditions each day for sailors. With Nick Turney Sailing Services there at the scene, sailors could gain helpful insights and racing video replays to review each day. With added drone footage being shared each evening, the excitement of the mark roundings and crossing tacks was renewed over evening refreshments and comments such as “Boy that was close!” were shared amongst the gang. Having on the water support from Nick, top-notch fleet management, and spot-on race committee volunteers makes events like these a true success for all involved.
Congratulations to David Starck’s Team PatStrong for winning the tie-breaker with previous World Champion Javier Conte and his team Argentina. Tito Gonzalez’s team came out hot with a win in the final race, giving them third overall. Tito sailed with his family on Ojo de Lince, with his daughter Trini and son Alberto Gonzalez Jr, making it a true family affair. Congratulations to our clients once again for your spectacular performances across the board.
Clients finished 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 at the Miami Midwinters. Congratulations to our clients for finishing at the top of the fleet, proving teamwork and speed are the keys to success.
Congratulations to series winners on Argentina, with Javier Conte, Julio Alsogaray, and Paula Salerno for winning the series total out of 14 races and to Javier for winning the Humphrey New Comer Award. Jack Mueller Grand Master Award winner this time around was Grand Master Ched Proctor, and the Dr. Georges Peter Great Grand Master Awardwinner, Bill Mauk. Congrats to Mark Allen from Michigan for winning a new North Sails Jib!
1. Starts are crucial. Not setting up too early, having a hole below you to accelerate, and starting as close to the favored end as possible are very important. Don’t be afraid of a port-tack approach- this can be helpful in finding the right hole on the line that will give you a nice gap to leeward to accelerate.
2. Boat speed. Boat speed. Boat speed. Get out there early and speed test with another boat. Make sure your rig is set up for the lulls. Adjust your leads for waves/chop/flatwater. Straight line speed, especially off the starting line is very important in larger fleets. Being able to hold your own lane with speed after the start is a winning move.
3. Be comfortable. Be ready. Practice maneuvers before you start the race. Give yourself time to adjust to given wind conditions. Be comfortable with your abilities, and be confident in your position. Executing quick-yet smooth maneuvers, (especially in light air or chop) is beneficial. Being able to throw in a last minute roll- jibe, or double tack on the starting line to gain height are valuable techniques you can’t plan ahead, but you have to be ready to execute in a snap. Being ready and being one step ahead of your competitors makes a huge difference, and will help you stay in front of the fleet.
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