Lightning Articles
  • Competitive speed by Bill Shore with Randy Shore
  • Tacking Angles Q & A by Bill Fastiggi
  • Trimline Q&A by Bill Fastiggi
  • 1999 Southern Circit by Bill Fastiggi
  • '98 Lightning Southern Circuit Recap
  • New Lightning Compass by Bill Fastiggi
  • Pan Am Trials by Bill Fastiggi
  • 1997 North American's
  • Leadership Wins by Mike Breault
  • All-Purpose Tuning by Bill Fastiggi
  • The Art of Crewing by Adam Walsh
  • Depowering for Speed  
  • 1998 Lightning Winter Championships-St Pete  
  • Once you learn competitive speed, itís a whole new sport 

    Few sailboat racers ever experience the best of sailboat racing ó top speed around the whole course. Their lack of competitive speed hinders their enjoyment and their results. We would like to help you understand how to achieve this level of competition, and experience the best our sport has to offer. Letís start with developing your upwind speed.      

    Bill Shore with Randy Shore 

    click here to open PDF of this article

    International Lightning Q & A

    Bill, Heather & Andy at the Pan Am Games 1999

    Comment: Having finally learned how badly out-of-shape my 11-year-old main had gotten (by adding several tell-tales), I contacted Bill Fastiggi through Shore Sails  Burlington's web page and am excited to
    be the proud owner of Andy Horton's NA championship sails from this past summer. I got a massive
    improvement in performance at substantial savings, and Andy got a return on his investment to be
    able to afford that next new set of sails needed to stay in the running for the top spot.
     I think it's a win-win situation without penalizing those that really want to "go for it". And I can't wait for next summer!!!!!!!!

    Bill Kohler
    13251 Eng_near
    Galway Lake Fleet 338

    Q: Any tricks out there for inexperienced sailors trying to find the layline? So many times, I think it's time to tack, only to come up short of the mark.

    Ron Wright

    A: Ron -
    Laylines are tricky because the tacking angle of the lightning changes very dramatically with variations in wind velocity. Basically - the more wind, the tighter your tacking angle.

    In very light air your tacking angle will greater than 90 degrees. In light to medium air your tacking angle will be about 90 degrees. In medium to heavy and heavy air you tacking angle will definitely be less than 90, probably between 80 and 85 degrees.

    You can figure this out using your compass very easily for your given condition by sailing upwind on one tack recording the heading ( I always use the centerline on the compass, not the lubber lines, because- the math is way easier). Tack and record the heading after you are up to speed. The difference between the two numbers should be close to 90 degrees. I think it is best to try to do this a number of times before the start to make sure that you are not tacking on windshifts. This is also the time to record your high and low headings on both tacks for reference on the upcoming beat.

    If the tacking angle is close to 90 degrees, you will probably have a crewmember to leeward, because it will probably be light air. Have that crew sight up the hiking strap (90 degrees) to tell you if you are on the layline.

    In practice, since it is not really practical to use a hand bearing compass, I look at the other boats' headings on both tacks while sailing upwind, and visualize my boat paralleling them on the other tack. It sounds hard to do but you get really good at it after a while.

    Remember too, you want to avoid getting to the layline too early in most instances. Once you hit the layline, you lose ground with either a lift or a header, so unless it is a persistant shift, or there is a clear advantage (less current, more wind velocity in non-shifting conditions) you should try to avoid the laylines.

    Bill Fastiggi

    Q: I have been reading Greg Fisher's "Very Basic Guides" in Flashes. He defines jib lead in terms of trimline. What is trimline?

    Ron Wright

    A: Ron,
    A trimline is a pencil or pen line that is drawn on the clew patch right near the clew of the jib. The theory of this line is that if you make your jib sheet an extension of this line, the jib lead should be correct. 

     If you would like to try this, lay your jib flat on the floor.

     * Find the midpoint of the luff by folding the head down to the tack, and put a light pencil mark at this point on the luff.

     * Then, you want to lay a string (your jibsheet will work) along the sail from the clew diagonally up across the sail to this point on the luff.

     * Then, just take a straight edge and draw a pencil line along the string (or sheet) for about 2 feet starting at the clew. You can use a mainsail batten or your tiller extension for a straight edge.

    This technique will give you a good approximate location for the jib lead position. Your tuning guide will give you a better, more accurate position depending on the wind velocity and sea conditions. A good rule of thumb for jib lead position is forward if you have more chop than wind and aft for overpowered conditions and very flat water

    Bill Fastiggi


    1999 Lightning Southern Circuit

    by Bill Fastiggi

    Deep South Regatta
    Saturday 3/13/99

    I will try to give accounts of the Lightning Southern Circuit as it happens. It may be of interest to Lightning sailors who are not down south.

    This year's circuit will be a little different from my perspective in that I am crewing this year instead of driving my own boat. After winning the US Pan Am trial last October Andy Horton (my good friend and our very talented young skipper), Heather Rowe and I made a commitment to sail as a team for the Southern Circuit.

    Andy is also doing a Soling Olympic campaign and is ranked 5th in the US after only one year in the boat. Andy drove down with the Lightning a few weeks ago and left it here at the Savannah YC on his way down to Miami to train in the Soling.

    Pulling into the parking lot at the Savannah YC is one of the highlights of my year. After a winter up north, the first Lightning regatta of the year is really something. Just seeing the boats arriving, rigging and launching gets my blood flowing. After getting my first vicious bug bite, reality sets in and I'm glad I remembered to bring some "skin so soft".

    We arrived early Friday morning after driving down from Newport with Bill and Randy Shore with my boat in tow. When discussing our circuit plans earlier in the winter, Bill was interested in sailing the Southern Circuit but is between boats. Since I was sailing with Andy, I offered mine in return for a round trip ride.

    A few weeks later I was talking to my old college roommate, Morgan Reeser, who expressed some interest in sailing a Lightning sometime with his wife Louise, and so they agreed to team up with Bill for the circuit. Morgan grew up in Miami and has sailed Lightnings a few times, crewing in the Worlds in Annapolis, but Louise has never sailed in one. They both race 470's, Morgan was the Silver medalist in the Barcelona Olympics. Morgan won the coin toss, so Bill and Louise would be crewing.

    This year 49 boats made it to Savannah. Today's racing started at 1 pm. RC John McIntosh set the starting line up the Skidaway River. The first leg was up the Skidaway, turn right at the point to the first mark. The second leg was a long spinnaker leg to the "gybe" mark in front of the club. The third leg was from the "gybe" mark to the daymarker, and then a right turn back down the Skidaway. If you've never sailed here before, it is really hard to describe the course.

    The wind was a breezy and puffy 10-20. Typical Savannah conditions with boats full on planing and completely becalmed on the same leg.

    We got a good start in the first race and were near the lead pack up the first half of the leg. Just before the "point" Bill Faude consolidated the lead on the fleet and led at the first mark. I think at the first mark he was followed by Ched Proctor, we were third, then maybe Steve Hayden and Dick Hallagan. We lost both of them pretty quickly after getting caught too close to shore. The were able to sail through to leeward in better breeze.

    By the end of the race we Proctor had moved up to first, Faude was second and we had caught up to third. Ched didn't get the gun, so Bill Faude ended up winning with us second , followed by Tim Healy, Hallagan, Bill Mauk, Morgan Reeser, and Steve Hayden.

    Race two started with very little delay. Morgan, Louise and Bill had an awesome start and led wire to wire. We were unfortunately just to weather of them at the start and got shot out the back pretty quickly. We hung in and were able to get to the weather mark in about 7th. Jack Elfman, Alain Boucher, and Hallagan were all in the pack ahead of us.

    By the second winward mark we had worked our way up to 4th and Alain and Jack got in a luffing match and sailed into a little hole. We broke through to leeward and got an incredible puff later in the leg that took us right up to Morgan's transom. They had been at least a quarter leg ahead at the beginning of the leg. We had a great match race with them for the final two legs and finished about a boatlength behind them.

    There were a few capsizes, broken masts, OCS's, and one huge collision, but all in all a great day of sailing.

    No races Sunday in Savannah; high wind, thunderstorms, nasty weather. Yesterday's results stand.

    Results Deep South Regatta.

    Miami Midwinters Day One

    Today was a perfect day to be on the water in Miami. Sunny, warm (cold according to the locals), good wind. The wind started the day out at about 10-12 knots at 345 degrees and by the end of the day had shifted around to about 050 degrees. The last half of race three saw winds up to about 16 knots.

    The race committee work was excellent, far better than the past few years. The starting lines were square and they did a good job moving the marks, which was required in almost every race.

    Yesterday it was windy with intermittent rain squalls, so very few boats left the dock to practice. Everyone was itching to get out on the water, so most boats left the dock long before the 10 am harbor start. It takes nearly a full hour to get to the course from the dock of the Coral Reef Yacht Club. We left the dock at 9:30 am to get some good wind readings and practice before the first race. The wind was very puffy and spotty, shifting through about 20 degrees. We were getting used to the feel of the small chop that builds in Biscayne Bay and felt pretty good about our boat speed.

    The first race was a Windward-Leeward twice around (downwind finish) and the first start got off clean with no recalls. The starting sequence took a little getting used to. The system used was a 6-5-1-Go format instead of the usual 10-5-Go sequence. It keeps you on your toes because you can't be too far away from the line or you'll miss the guns.

    We had a poor start towards the boat end, but were able to bail out quickly and get clear air to the right. We got a small right shift and were right back into the thick of things. The 10 and 20 degree shifts turned into 20-40 shifts, sometimes oscillating and sometimes persistent for any given leg. So much for a straight forward day of sailing. We sailed well on the first 2/3 of the beat, but missed one small shift and were on the outside of a big left shift at the end of the leg. Al Boucher and Don Brush had a good lead on the fleet, with a big pack about 15 boat lengths behind. We probably rounded about 18th and passed about 3-4 boats downwind. We seemed to pass and lose boats all over the course and ended up about 15th. As would be proven all day, no lead was sacred as Tim Healy eventually got by Al Boucher for the win. LarryHFR practice day 2.jpg (165714 bytes) MacDonald made a great comeback to finish 3rd.

    An interesting sideline of this regatta is that it is the second "half" of the Canadian qualifiers for the Pan Am Games. Last summer at the Canadian Open the order of finish was MacDonald, Cameron, Hall, Simard, Boucher. Racing was very tight and Boucher was only 7 points behind MacDonald. Here in Miami, they are adding their total points for the regatta, so with 48 boats sailing, this regatta ends up "weighted" much more heavily. Needless to say, the Canadian teams really have a lot on the line at this regatta and they are always aware of the point spreads and positions on the course.

    Race two saw a little less breeze at the start, an "I" flag after the first recall, and a "Black" flag after the second recall. The second start got off clean and we were off with a great lane and clear air about 1/3 of the way up from the pin. Things started looking pretty good. We were moving well the boats to weather began sagging into us, and were worked out far enough so we could tack and cross the pack of boats immediately to weather of us. We were about to tack, and (wham!) We're up 30 degrees and the boats to our right are in a TON more pressure! We hang on the lift and are patient - after all it's only 2 minutes into the race! The breeze eventually comes back some, but a few of the early leaders get out pretty far on us. Morgan Reeser with Bill Shore crewing, Tim Healy, Ched Proctor, and JF Simard were in control of the first beat. The first downwind run turned into a long port reach as the wind clocked to the right, and the race ended up being a parade. We felt good about finishing in the top 10.

    For the Canadians, JF Simard had a good race and Boucher, MacDonald and Hall were back in the pack.

    The breeze continued to work to the right through the second race and between race 2 and 3, so our strategy was to play the shifts on the middle right and protect the right side of the course. We lined up near the pin which was quite favored and got off clean, but a lot of boats near the boat end were over so the committee signaled a general recall. Since the breeze went right even more, we were pleased that this one came back and wanted to step up the line towards the boat end. The "Black Flag" came out for the next start and again a general recall was sounded. The committee identified 5 offenders (Bill Faude, Chad Atkins, Joan Hurban, Al Boucher, and Peter Hall) and posted the bow numbers on the back of the committee boat. It is a terrible feeling getting "black flagged" on a recalled start. You have to sit the race out and watch from the sidelines.

    Finally, the third start got off and we got a good start near the boat. We sailed for a few minutes and tacked right on the first small left shift. After a few minutes the breeze shifted back to the right as expected, so we dug in just a little to make sure we didn't fall out of the breeze. We tacked back to starboard probably in about 4th place - definitely ahead of all the boats around us then (Wham) down 35! The breeze backed to the left for the remainder of the beat - we ended up around 15th after picking up about 10 boats just before the weather mark.

    On the second beat we tried to be a little conservative, staying near the middle, concentrating on the compass and playing the shifts. About halfway up the beat, we separated from the boats around us by taking advantage of a few small shifts and got a little to the right where we felt like we had a small gain. It seemed like there was a little better breeze right - which by this time we were convinced meant we should go left. One boat was off in the far right corner - Phil Grotheer. Phil rounded the leeward mark about 10th and "just kept going". Long after passing the small sign that said "Cornersville pop. 1" Phil tacked back to starboard and led at the windward mark by so far that the second place boat could barely see Phil's numbers. We jumped up into the top ten and gained a huge amount of distance. Brian Hayes was a big winner and jumped into the #2 spot. Morgan Reeser had been leading and dropped back to about 8th!

    The last beat saw an increase in velocity with very few changes in position among the leaders, but a lot of tight sailing.

    After sailing in, we all headed over to Coconut Grove Sailing Club for Fleet 226's steak dinner. Tom Allen Jr. and Bill Faude did and exceptional job working the grills. Tom's specialty was "Rare or Rare" while Bill was offering steaks that had "spent considerable time bonding with the grill". This low key event is certainly one of the social highlights of the circuit.

    Miami Midwinters Day Two

    It doesn't get any better than this. Warm sunny 12-20 kts. Still shifty and puffy but a little more stable than yesterday. Still very unpredictable.

    Race one saw a big advantage to being left in middle to end of the beat. Bill Mauk and Bob Wardwell led at the first mark. We were about eigth or tenth after having gotten just left enough to get the better pressure. We worked our way up to third by the leeward gate, and then lost about 10 boats on the first shift. We got a few boats back but places didn't change much. Bill Mauk crossed first, but was OCS so Wardwell got the gun. Peter Hall, Bill Faude and Eamonn Delisser were near the front.

    The second race saw a big right shift during the middle of the first beat. We were (naturally) on the left of the shift and got to the windward mark around 20th and clawed our way up to about 12th at the finish. Morgan Reeser led this one all the way around and had a huge lead by the finish.

    For the first time, there was a throwout in this regatta, so my former co- worker Tim Healy dropped his 18th to win the regatta. Larry MacDonald won the Canadian berth for the Pan Am Games.

    Results Miami Widwinters

    St. Pete. Lightning Winter Championships Day One
    As usual, the schedule at St. Pete started off with a 9:30 AM Race start. Since it is a full hour to sail out to the course and there are about 70 boats all lining up to use three hoists, people start arriving at the sailing center as early as 7 am to launch their boats. We arrived at 7:30 checked our rig tuning and immediately launched our bot, then headed for breakfast at the cub.

    A light but pleasant 5 knot Northeast wind looked promising, so the RC began he sequence after a short delay. The starting sequence used is a little different than what most of us are used to. Like Miami, the 6-5-1-go format was in use, but unfortunately with 70 boats, a long line, and horns (instead f guns) for sound signals got us into trouble. We sailed out in plenty of time, checked in with the RC, and sailed upwind to get some compass headings. After returning to the line for the scheduled starting time, the RC postponed and we sailed back up wind for a few minutes. We turned back down and set the chute, and then watched while most of the fleet was lining up for the start. We saw the flag drop (1 min. to go) just before we arrived at the pin and doused the chute. We ducked a few huge packs of boats, crossed a few and were able to poke through with clear air on port tack. After sailing for a few minutes the congestion cleared and we were near the front row.

    After a long, slow upwind leg we arrived at the windward mark in second place just behind Tim Healy. About 30 minutes later the race was abandoned as the breeze completely shut down, and the fleet was towed back in to the dock.

    The next harbor start was at 2pm, and the 1st race got underway at 3. The wind was now out of the south and began slowly shifting right. During the first beat, a 40 degree shift turned the windward-leeward course into somewhat of a parade. Brian Hayes started at the boat, never tacked, and was first around the mark. From our very far over-stood vantage point it looked like Dave Starck, Morgan Reeser, and Larry MacDonald were in the hunt. We managed to finish 26th and were not very excited about how we sailed the course.

    The second race was sailed in a more westerly breeze. We got off the line cleanly and at the first mark rounded behind Hank Hodgeson, Hans Birkholz, Dave starck, and Phil Grotheer. By the end of the second beat Phil had worked out a big lead. At the finish Starck was second, and we ended up third. Dave Stark was everyone's idol after finishing the day with a 4,2.

    St. Pete Midwinters Day Two

    Saturday's wind and weather condition was almost a carbon copy of Friday's. After a full morning of postponig ashore, we left the dock for a 2:30 Race start.

    Race one was started while the wind was still shifting to the right and again many boats over-stood the first mark. Jack Elfman and Jeff Linton were first and second at the weather mark and we were never seriously challenged after that. We managed to work our way over to the right side after having a bad start near the boat end of the line. We were among those who overstood the first mark and arrived about 15th. We managed to work our way up to about 10 or 12 by the second widward mark. On the run to the finish we passed a few boats who gybed out of phase, and got by a few others right at the finish by picking the favored end of the line. We felt good about our 7th.

    The breeze continued to shift to the right, and by the time the race got started it was very nearly a true seabreeze direction. We got a good start near the favored committee boat end and tacked away to the right just to weather of Brian Taboada. We sailed on a log port tack to the right and gradually worked our way out on the fleet. Nearing the top of the beat Matt Burridge crossed both of us from the left side. At the top mark it was Matt, Brian, and us all about a boat length apart with Hallagan, Hayes and MacDonald close behind. We lost Hallagan and Hayes down wind and then at the leeward mark I took the chute down on the wrong side of the boat - to starboard. As we approached the next windward mark, we had few discussions about the lack of thinking on my part. We opted to gybe-set at the offset mark and fortunately the offset leg was very short, and the wind was in a right-hand phase when we gybed so we passed a few boats and vaulted back up into third. This race was probably the tightest of the circuit with the lead group all packed pretty tightly together. We managed to get past Brian just before the finish to squeak into second.

    If you look at the scores you can see how close the scores are among the leaders as well as how inconsistent everyone is. This is due to the difficult conditions and the level of competition. So far only one of the boats in the top 10 won a race, and no one has all top ten finishes!

    The circuit winds down tomorrow with one race to go. We knew it would all be very close, but were surprised to find that we were leading the overall circuit with one race to go!

    The overall circuit standings so far are:

    Name Pts w/drop Horton 96 (70) Starck 95 (71) Hayden 98 (82) Healy 103 (83) Faude 159 (110) Hayes 133 (110) Proctor 167 (116) MacDonald 169 (118) Reeser 162 (123)

    St. Pete Day Three

    I just arrived back in New England after a long 24 hour drive. The Lightning Southern Circuit iscertainly one of the most fun set of regattas you can do. All three venues offer different types ofchallenges, great hospitality, and the opportunity to see Lightning friends after a long winter upnorth. It is good to get home.

    Yesterdays race was a typical St. Pete day. Wind out of the South West starting at about 12 and building to 18. The wind was very steady, probably the entire range of shifts on the day was 5 degrees. The current was pushing the fleet over the line for the start, and with 70+ boats there were a few recalls, and finally, the dreaded "black flag".

    We had an adequate start near the middle of the line with Ched Proctor a few boats to weather of us. After sailing for a few minutes, a slight left shift allowed some of the pack to leeward to cross. The first group of three boats to cross included Dave Starck. Ched opted to tack to leeward and head right to stay in phase, while we decided to hang to the left for what looked like a little more pressure.

    The next group that crossed were even further ahead. Brian Hayes, Tom Allen Sr., Don Brush and Morgan Reeser all crossed, and we tacked to weather of them with Jeff Linton and Tim Healy up on our hip. We were looking good untill the breeze shifted back slightly to the right. At the first mark Brian Hayes led with Tom Allen Sr. close behind. We rounded in about 12th with a huge pack just behind us.

    We had a good down wind leg and good second beat to close the gap with the leaders. Now it was Proctor in 1st, followed by Hayes, MacDonald, Allen Jr., Allen Sr. Starck and us. Close behind us were Bill Faude, Peter Hall, Morgan Reeser, and Paul Foerster. We were about two boat lengths behind Starck at the leeward mark. With Brian Hayes up in front, he would clearly win the regatta unless he tipped over, capsized or had been OCS, so Starck was clearly focused on winning the overall circuit (as were we). Dave did a really nice job tightly covering us on the last beat and slowing us down enough to get Peter Hall, Allen JR, and Faude in between us.

    Allen Jr, Reeser and Faude were both "Black Flag" victims.

    Southern Circuit Final Results

    '98 Lightning Southern Circuit Recap

    Savannah Deep South Regatta
    March 14 & 15

    Three races were held in light to moderate wind, one race Saturday, and two races Sunday. Shifty with a lot of current was the deal (surprise, surprise). The weather was great and the gnats were under control. The southern hospitality of the staff and members of the Savannah YC always makes the first stop of the Southern Circuit worthwhile.

    Miami Mid-Winter Regatta
    March 17 & 18

    Four races were held in heavy air, three races Tuesday, and one race Wednesday. The sailing on Tuesday claimed many teams due to breakdowns and capsizes. It was blowing 16-20 mph with moderate to steep 1-3 foot chop. Jibing was difficult because it was hard to plane through the entire jibe due to the short steep waves. Picking the right wave was the key to a controlled jibe. Also, keeping the twings close to the deck while jibing stabilized the spinnaker and added control. Only one race was sailed on Wednesday in more of the same condition (WINDY).

    St. Pete Winter Championships
    March 20-22

    Four races were held with two in heavy air and two in light to moderate air. No racing occurred on Friday due to the weather. On Saturday, it was blowing 16-22 mph with relatively flat water. Only half of the fleet finished the second race so everybody was sent in. Sunday was light and shifty due to a northeasterly dying and shifting to the northwest. Finding the velocity, then getting pointed in the right direction was important. Locating the marks was tricky because of the wind shifts. It was easy to get caught on the wrong jibe down wind and loose out to boats that knew where the marks were.

    ...Shore Sails Lightning News Flash!...

    1st 1998 St Pete Midwinter Regatta 1st 1997 North Americans 1st 1997 N.A. Qualifying Series 1st 1997 U.S. Finisher at Worlds


    New Lightning Compass Options

    by Bill Fastiggi

    Self-contained electronic compasses will be legal for use on the Lightning after January 1, 1999.

    The Tack-Tick race compass is a solar powered fluxgate digital electronic compass.

    There are three versions of this compass: The Race Master is a dual display, larger display. It is more for bigger keel boats. The Race compass, which is ideal for Lightnings. The Class Compass for classes that do not allow the lift/header option.

    The Race compass:

    Is battery powered with built in solar re-chargable battery
    Lift/header display
    Weighs 9 oz. (without bracket)
    Is waterproof
    Works up to 30 degrees pitch or heel angle
    Is easy to read (3/4" tall digits)
    Includes a countdown timer
    Includes a mounting bracket.
    Includes carrying case

    I have one and have used it extensively on my JY-15 as well as fitted it to the lighting for testing. It works well. The numbers are easy to read for the skipper and middle crew, and the head/lift sidebar is easy for the front crew to read.

    There are a few different mounting brackets available. The best one for the Lightning is the slug bracket, where you drop the provided slug down the mast track, and bolt the bracket to the slug just below the gooseneck. The lever vang does not interfere.

    The compass works well, the damping is good, and the compass is easy to remove from the bracket. You can remove it after sailing, leaving the bracket on the mast. This takes about 1 minute to do. If you have two different boats, get an extra bracket and carry the compass back and forth. The extra bracket is $50.

    The only bad thing I have found is that if you wear polarized sunglasses, the display is nearly impossible to read.

    More info?

    We Won the PAN AM TRIALS!

    by Bill FastiggiPan Am

    Both Andy Horton and I had qualified to compete in the trials but we decided to team up for this event and convince our good friend Heather Rowe to sail with us. The regatta was held on Carlyle Lake in Southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO, Friday, October 16 through Sunday, October 18, 1998.

    Although we had all sailed together before, all three of us had never been in a Lightning together at once Andy had spent most of the year sailing his Soling, Heather hadn't sailed in the front of a Lightning in a few years, and it has been a long time since I sailed an entire regatta crewing in the middle of a Lightning so we opted to skip the practice race in favor of our own practicing.

    With conditions on Friday to our liking, 12-18 out of the southeast, we posted a 3,1,1 to lead the regatta early on. In all three races, we started conservatively, got to the weather mark in the upper-middle of the fleet, and worked our way up, a comeback pattern we seemed to follow in every race.

    Saturday morning we did not have the rig de-powered enough as the breeze built to a solid 25 knots and struggled a little, managing a 9th. When the breeze lightened up after a four-hour delay, we took a 6th, which kept us in the lead. With five races and no throwouts, the scores was Horton 20 pts, Tom Allen Jr. 21, Ched Proctor 22, Sean Fidler 24, Dave Starck and Phil Grotheer a few points back. With six races and a throw out, however, Jody Lutz (who had a breakdown in race 2) had the same finishes 1,1,3,6 as we did, so we were tied with 11 pts. Ched, 13, Tom Jr., 14, Sea, 15, were still in contention.

    In a 4-8 knot breeze, we got a clean start to leeward of Ched Proctor, with Jody just to weather of Ched, only to reach the first mark 15th, ahead of only two boats. Patiently we got back into the race. At the last leeward mark, Sean Fidler was leading, we were 6th, and the other teams we needed to beat were behind us. We needed to pass a boat to tie Sean (we would win the tie-breaker). By sailing the shifts up the middle and staying close to our competition, we crossed the line third behind Sean Fidler and Theresa Colantuano, although Sean was OCS.

    The PAN AM games are next July in Gimli, Manitoba (Canada). We will be sailing together as a team for the Lightning Southern Circuit in March and a few other regattas in the spring, as well as doing some individual training sessions.

    The full regatta results.


    1997 North Americanís

    Photo ó David Sprague

    I began preparation for the 1997 Worlds and North Americans about 18 months ago. I purchased #14763 and rigged it for the Southern Circuit. During last summer we set our goal to win the 1997 North Americans and place in the top five at the Worlds. We did it! We won the North Americans and were third at the Worlds.

    The first thing I felt I needed was ultimate confidence in my sails. I worked with Bill Shore to develop a winning main and jib design as well as a great spinnaker. Just before the Worlds, I knew we had created really fast designs. Our sails required few rig adjustments across a broad spectrum of wind, so I didnít have to think about shroud tension and mast block placement while racing.

    Having great crew really helped me perform this summer. For the Worlds, I had my brother Bill and Maria White. We came together only a few weeks before the regatta as a result of my regular crew breaking his foot. At the North Americans, I had Mike Breault and Adam Walsh, both excellent dinghy sailors.

    My boat was basically a stock Nichols. I requested that the boat be built to minimum weight and that the maximum amount of correctors be used in the middle of the boat. Additionally, I requested the heaviest centerboard. Before the Worlds, I reweighed the boat, changed the weight position, took out lead and recertified the boat at the Worlds. Otherwise, I left the boat building to the experts and rigged it myself.

    My rigging systems were simple, designed for efficiency and many took several generations to perfect. I centralized the weight pulling systems out of the ends as much as possible. Knowing the boat was as ready as I was for competition gave me tremendous confidence.

    I spent time on the water tuning the rig and developing base settings for all conditions. I did speed testing, which is critical for holding lanes with the good racers, and developed my confidence for having good speed and height, when I needed it. I changed the spreader bar to stiffen the mast.

    As we sailed, I worked out better solutions for some of our systems, which made the crew work smoother. This was really important as the practice highlighted areas where rigging was getting in the way of our performance. We installed a new jib lead system which took two generations of rigging to get the way we wanted it. We installed working barberhaulers. I changed to Bill Fastiggiís mainsheet system. We tested three spinnaker poles until we found one with the right ends, which are totally different from a normal Lightning pole.

    I installed a new pintle/gudgeon system which allowed the rudder to work smoother. I changed my tiller and straightened the centerboard. I installed a new centerboard pulley system with fiddle blocks and aligned the system next to the board to get the weight out of the bow.

    I set a goal to complete all the tasks by two regattas before Worlds so we could get used to the systems we had developed. I completed 50% of them by the Cedar Point regatta two weeks prior to the Worlds and 90% of my tasks were completed one week before the Worlds. I had confidence that the boat was ready to go and win the regatta.

    Knowing my boat was in top condition and that my crew was first rate allowed me to concentrate on the tricky wind and water conditions on Lake St. Clair. We found we were fast and focused, leading at most weather marks throughout the week and had extra speed downwind. I never changed my rig tune adjustments through the large variety of conditions, a tribute to the sail designs. I attribute our success this summer to our preparation. Getting the boat ready got me ready, too.

    Leadership Wins

    by Mike Breault, winning crew at the 1997 North Americans by Mike Breault, winning crew at the 1997 North Americans

    I've read various articles that prescribe how to be a leader in theory, preparation, setting goals, setting an example (i.e., being calm, being clear), and Tim is pretty good at putting that into practice.

    Adam and I were good crew because we knew how to recognize Tim's leadership and delivered what he wanted. Our winning was a result of our experience and ability to let Tim lead, and to discuss decisions/information with the right emphasis. Although Tim is younger than we are, we knew that he had devoted thought to how to win major championships. That was a big motivation for us to perform well.

    Also knowing we were favored to win was great motivation for us in the first three races. Then, Tim was motivated in the next three races by knowing that Adam and I believed we could still win. That kept Tim calm, and focused; not distracted by the tough position we were in. This 'confidence feedback' worked perfectly.

    Our boat set up was simple so the crew doesn't lose track of important things like hiking, balancing, and constantly adjusting the jib sheet. Our practice and Tim's clear instruction really helped. Again, Tim's leadership meant we had tried all the combinations of sets and douses. The only thing we should have done was practiced the unforeseens like the outhaul and the guy cleat blow-outs.

    Some other thoughts on why we won: Tim told us when max hike was needed, and he used it sparingly, so Adam and I worked really hard in those instances, like starting lines and port/starboard crosses. We had constant compass information with interpretation from Tim, "could have been velocity". I, in the middle, only did a few things. I was free to balance the boat. I did the countdown at the start so Tim and Adam could sail like a 420 at the start. Tim did the main controls, which was unusual for him but eliminated confusion, minimized talking, and let me hike. It was good for me to sit still on the rail as it isolated Tim from any chaos up front.

    All-Purpose Tuning

    by Bill Fastiggi

    You can set-up your boat so you donít have to retune it or move mast blocks.

    We've found you can set the boat up with a good all purpose setting. We use 1 1/4" of prebend with the lower shrouds at 250 lb. when the mast blocks are in place. We change these settings only for extreme conditions.

    At the North Americans in Detroit, we sailed in conditions ranging from 4-18 knots. Before the start of each race, we tested a variety of mast blocking and lower shroud settings, but we felt we had the best speed with the 1 1/4" setting. Tim Healy (1997 North American Champion) and I discussed rig tuning throughout the regatta and neither of us ever changed this mast blocking.

    We can shift gears using the basic controls of mainsheet, jib sheet and backstay. You need to establish your course tune by sailing upwind with your sheets trimmed. Pull the jib wire until it is slightly tighter than the forestay. Then, with the main trimmed, pull on the backstay until you begin to tension the backstay wire and pull it so that 1" more of the line goes into the deck.

    Next you set your jib lead position which depends on the wave conditions, regardless of wind velocity. Our new jib designs have a uniform vertical curvature which makes the jib lead position very effective in changing the depth in the lower 1/3 of the sail. The more waves, the farther forward we set our leads.

    We measure our correct jib sheet tension by comparing the jib leech to the spreader tip. For most sailing conditions, we trim between the spreader tip and 3" inboard.

    We judge main sheet tension in relation to having the top batten parallel to the boom. Occasionally, we sheet harder, or looser, depending on wind/wave conditions.

    This set up allows you to make small adjustments to the backstay, mainsheet, and jib sheet for speed control.

    When the breeze dies and you need more power, you should ease the mainsheet, ease the jib sheet to about 1" on the spreader and ease the backstay 1". You will see the forestay sag to leeward which powers up the jib and makes the top of the main fuller.

    When the breeze builds and you need to depower, you pull 1-2" of backstay to flatten the mainsail and twist the upper leech open. This tensions your headstay reducing the jib sag and flattens the entry of the jib. If the wind continues to build, pull more backstay and ease the traveler bridle to leeward to keep the boat under control. Tim and I discussed rig tuning throughout the regatta. Tim Healy found the same settings worked, never moved his mast blocks and won the regatta. Andy Horton, who finished 3rd, sailing with Bill Shore, moved his mast blocks 1/4" in the one race under 4 knots.

    The Art of Crewing

    Mastering the Forward Crew's Position

    by Adam Walsh, winning forward crew at the Lightning 1997 North Americans

    Few crew positions on any boat are as difficult as the forward crew on a Lightning. This position requires agility, strength, balance, feel and smarts. Far too often skippers overlook the contribution of the forward crew, merely finding a warm body, who weighs enough for the specific conditions, who can pull in the jib and who can gybe the pole.

    I hope I can help forward crew to perfect their techniques and, in turn, help their team to succeed by sharing information in this article and several articles through the winter. The forward crew can, and should, make a strong contribution by acting and reacting independently of the other crew and the skipper. This article focuses on prestart and upwind activities. Next, I'll talk about tacking and jib trim.

    Racing Upwind
    Many crew neglect taking advantage of the few minutes prior to the warning gun to warm up. Everyone should make it a habit of sailing upwind on both tacks, collecting data on the breeze, the shifts and the wave conditions. After you've arrived at the race course and checked in, do a wind shot to get a wind direction and write it down. Generally, the forward crew keeps track of the compass headings. Then, you should sail upwind for several minutes.

    On our boat, we sail like we are racing, reading the compass and creating a high, a low and a median compass heading for each tack. Before we head back to the line we check the wind direction again to compare with our previous compass readings.

    A tuning partner can help check speed and settings upwind. You can split tacks and sail on opposite tacks for about three minutes and then tack. When you converge, any benefit to one side or the other should be evident and you can discuss the trends in the shifts and velocity.

    During this warm up, the forward crew must get in tune with the waves, wind and the jib.

    As we're sailing upwind in the warm-up, I watch three things, the compass, the lower third of the jib, and the waves and wind a few boatlengths to weather. When I see a bad set of waves approaching, I make a quick decision. Do I slide in off the rail, heel the boat up on one chine and knife through the waves? Or do I ease the sheet a bit, gain power, hike hard and flatten the boat as it powers through the waves? More than likely, I will choose a combination of these techniques. Almost everyone, your skipper in particular will agree that the best time to figure this out is BEFORE the first beat!

    The benefit of working 100% during this warm up is obvious; everyone gets into phase with the wave patterns, the breeze, and the puffs and lulls, so when the gun goes off your boat is already in the grove, sailing fast and you have a good idea of what phase the breeze is in. Sailing off the starting line is probably the most crucial time of any race.

    Let's face it, few of us can hike as hard and as long as an Olympic Finn or Laser sailor. I've spent the last 14 years hanging from trapeze wires, so I despise hiking more than most. The key to successful hiking is to know when extra effort and pain will pay off. All the crew must max hike at specific times during a race, like at the start. By max hike, I don't mean droop hiking and groaning more than usual. I mean placing your weight out as far away from the centerline of the boat. This requires the crew to move their butts outside the rail, straighten their legs so that their torsos are extended out and place at least one hand above their head or up on their chest. This max hike is going to hurt, but think how good it will feel to slide in a bit and just hike hard after a mean max hike!

    When its windy, the most important time for a max hike is the three to four minutes off the starting line. The max hike helps the boat accelerate and point. If you can pinch off the boat to weather, roll the boat to leeward or just save your lane, the rest of the race will be that much easier. The max hike helps when approaching a crossing situation port/starboard. Another time max hike works is when it's 'blowing the dog of the chain', as it helps get the boat up to top speed before throwing in a tack. Too many crews let the boat become overpowered before the tack and the result is poor boatspeed out of the tack.

    Balance and Boat Trim
    It should be the job of the forward crew to continually balance the boat. Only one crew should do fine tune balancing. The middle crew often has their head out of the boat looking for breeze, competition and determining the tactics, so the middle crew may not have the best feel for the waves and balance. For this reason, the forward crew, with the finger on the pulse of the boat and its speed, should be the one to make the slight adjustments.

    As a rule of thumb it is better to keep the middle crew and forward crew close together, centralizing the weight. The middle crew should never be on the rail while the forward crew sits to leeward. Occasionally, the forward crew will have to ask the middle crew (because his mind is elsewhere) to move in or out to maintain a good separation between the two crew. With practice your team can become fluid and smooth, so that the boat remains at perfect trim all the time.

    The Art of Crewing

    Mastering the Forward Crew's Position ó Part II

    by Adam Walsh, winning forward at the Lightning 1997 North Americans

    In the last issue, we discussed the difficulty and importance of the forward crew's position. We talked about racing upwind, max hiking and boat and balance trim. In this article, I would like to discuss jib trim and jib controls.

    Jib Trim
    I sail with a 2-to-1 jib sheet system which allows me to make small trims and eases with minimal effort. I have an adjustable lead system lead to the weather rail.

    In order to have steady boatspeed upwind, perfect jib trim is essential. Prior to the start, the forward crew should take a chance to sit to leeward and study the jib shape and the position of the top jib batten relative to the spreader tip.

    Take a minute and overtrim the jib an inch and see how the leech looks. Then look to the lower third of the sail and look to see how flat it has become.

    When the sail is over-trimmed, slide to weather and look to see how much backwind is in the main. Then, slowly ease the sheet until the backwinding stops. Then slide to leeward and see what the leech looks like at that position. Again over-trim the sail and try easing the sail 1/2 inch at a time while observing how the top batten reacts. Remember that when the lead is forward, the slightest change in sheet tension will have a greater effect on the leech at the spreader. All of these observations will allow you to visualize what the jib looks like while you are hiking on the weather rail.

    I have found that the windows in the mainsails are perfect for the helm on the rail to see the jib, but not very useful for the forward crew who is always moving around. For this reason, I don't rely on the window but look at the lower third of the sail and the luff of the main to trim the jib. Occasionally, I ask the helm to tell me how many inches in or out from the spreader tip is from the jib leech.

    It is important to keep in mind that as the wind increases the upper jib leech will open up more, and as the wind decreases the leech will close. Thus, the forward crew must realize that if the breezes is on and the jibleech is at the ideal position, when the breeze drops, or the boat slows due to waves, that the leech will close and the jib will be over-trimmed. So the jib must be eased. Obviously the converse is true for a building breeze.

    Therefore, the forward crew must always be on the ball ensuring that the jib trim is accurate all the time.

    Jib Controls
    The lightning jib has several controls which will effect its overall performance. The halyard or wire tension, the cloth tension, the jib lead and the sheet tension. It would be best for you to consult with your sailmaker's tuning guide for that sails specific settings. However, I will offer some observations.

    While sailing this years NAs, the primary jib adjustment was the sheet tension. Each day I would set the jib lead for each tack, because each tack had a different wave angle necessitating a different setting, and I left them there. As for the wire setting, it would be set so that the headstay was a bit looser than the wire at all times, and the cloth was set so that the scallops just disappeared. Again for the wire and cloth were set, and then ignored.

    I adjusted the sheet tension frequently. The main goal of jib trim should be to keep the top of the jib working as efficiently as possible, without closing the slot, or killing the flow over the leeward side of the top of the jib.

    Depowering for Speed

    Upwind in 20+ mph

    We have 9 controls to depower the Lightning when the breeze blows hard, 20+mph. These controls are:

    1. Backstay, which flattens the main, opens the main's leech and controls the headstay tension.
    2. Traveler to windward/leeward, which controls the boom position to windward/leeward without adjusting mainsheet tension or affecting the leech.
    3. Traveler height, which controls the leech tension without adjusting the mainsheet tension.
    4. Main and jib cunninghams, which flattens the sails and pulls the draft forward.
    5. Outhaul, which flattens the main and opens the leech.
    6. Jib halyard, which controls the tension of the jib wire and can affect the rake of the mast.
    7. Jib lead position, which controls the depth in the lower half of the sail and affects the jib leech tension.
    8. Vang, which controls the leech tension of the main.
    9. Centerboard, which controls your weather helm and your pointing ability by moving the center of resistance and by adjusting the amount of lateral resistance.

    At 20+ mph of wind speed, the backstay should be pulled on about 75% of maximum, which will flatten the sail and open the upper leech. The backstay is used to tension the jib wire and remove jib halyard sag. This is a key adjustment to flatten the jib. When it's blowing 20+, flatter is definitely faster.

    You should keep in mind that the jib wire acts as your headstay. This means that the jib wire is taking the load created by the sails and the backstay. Upwind, the headstay is used primarily as a gauge to determine the proper amount of jib halyard tension and mast rake. The amount of headstay that is snaking through the snaps of your jib can be a quick reference for tensioning the jib halyard. You should put marks on the jib halyard track for accurate fine-tuning of your tension. If you use the jib halyard alone to tension the jib wire, the mast will be pulled forward and the rake will be thrown off.. With this in mind, you should tension the jib halyard up to the point where the headstay goes slack. The backstay can now be used to tension the jib wire.

    If the mast has too much pre-bend (more than 1" at the deck), it will be too flexible and the backstay will not effectively pull the jib wire tight. If the mast is set-up with the proper amount of pre-bend (3/4"-1"), the mast will be stiffer making the backstay more effective in tensioning the jib wire.

    One of the side effects of pulling the backstay hard is that the draft in the mainsail moves back. Tensioning the cunningham moves the draft forward. When it gets windy, you should pull the cunningham on hard. You can't have too much cunningham in heavy air. The outhaul should be pulled close to the maximum in order to flatten the lower half of the main and to open the lower leech.

    The traveler should be set somewhere between 3/4" and all the way to leeward. Its height should be lowered to set the main leech tension. The objective for your sail trim is to get the mainsheet between 1/2"-1" from being two blocked. This allows latitude for you to trim the main a little more for more pointing.

    The jib leads should be back about 1". This flattens the lower section of the jib slightly and makes sheet tension less critical for the leech. The upper leech automatically opens up during big puffs and then returns to its original setting.

    The vang should be pulled on tight in these conditions, but you must ease it before the weather mark so that the boom does not bend or break. Upwind, when the mainsheet is eased for unexpected gusts, the vang helps maintain leech tension. On reaches, the vang should be played constantly, off to relieve weather helm in the puffs and on to power up.

    When the wind picks up to 23-25 mph, the sail trim needs to be at maximum de-power. The backstay should be pulled on as far as you can pull it without inverting the sail. This means that the mast should be bending so much that the shape of the sail has been almost completely pulled out. If the backstay is pulled on too much, the main will invert and develop inversion wrinkles which cannot be pulled out with the cunningham. When this happens, slowly ease off the backstay until the wrinkles disappear.

    Remember, in these heavy air conditions the mast should be blocked no further than 1" forward of the neutral position at the deck. The lowers should be tensioned to 29 on the Loos Gauge. If the mast is blocked further forward than 1", or the lowers are too loose, inversion wrinkles will appear sooner as the backstay is pulled tight.

    As the wind builds to 25+ mph, the jib leads should be pulled back 2"-3"+. This depowers the jib and allows the top of the sail to twist open in big puffs. As the wind increases, the jib lead should be moved back more. The jib leads should be pulled back when the main has to be eased out frequently for periods of more than a few seconds. This helps give the boat a wider groove and makes the main trim less critical.

    The goal in trimming your sails in big breezes should be a flat main with an open leech and a flat jib with an open leech. The traveler should be all the way down to leeward and lowered close to the deck. The boat should able to be steered through the puffs and waves without making macro-adjustments to any control.

    If the boat is still difficult to keep in the groove, raise the centerboard a few inches. This is measured from the stopper pin on the board to the top of the trunk. When the centerboard is pulled up, it pivots on the centerboard pin and the bottom of the board moves in an arc towards the aft end of the trunk. This means that the bottom tip of the board is moving almost directly aft in the first inch or two that the board is pulled up.

    When the board is moved back, the center of resistance moves with it. The center of resistance is a point on the centerboard where the sideways resistance can be focused. The center of effort, on the other hand, is the point in the sail plan where all the forces created by the wind and the sails can be focused.

    Most Lightnings are set-up with the center of resistance forward of the center of effort because the boat goes faster with a weather helm in light to moderate conditions. This means that we must be sure that our centerboards can reach the maximum forward position (angle of dangle) and our mast butts must be forward to facilitate a healthy amount of mast rake. Because of this, the boat is difficult to control in 25+ mph of wind speed. The board should be pulled up when the main sheet is being adjusted constantly and the helm is changing from extreme weather to extreme leeward helm.

    A secondary consideration to the movement of the center of resistance, is the decrease of exposed surface area of the board. Lightning centerboards are enormous and giving away some of that exposure in heavy air is good. It reduces the feeling of tripping over the board when you are hit by a surprise puff or wave. Raising the centerboard relieves excessive weather helm and gives the boat a wider groove. The centerboard should come up only when all other depowering techniques have been exhausted.

    When you have a better understanding of how to depower for speed, the next windy day will be more successful and, above all, more fun. We hope you had happy holidays and are looking forward to an active Lightning racing program in 1998. We wish you the best of success in your racing challenges.

    Bill Fastiggi, Bill Shore and everyone at Shore Sails

    1998 Lightning Winter Championships-St Pete

    The Lightning Winter Championships were held at St. Pete Yacht March 20-22. Friday morning the sixty five-boat fleet was welcomed with lightning storms and torrential downpours. Needless to say the racing was postponed for the morning and eventually canceled for the day. We went to see Titanic. Did you feel like you were on the ship too? It took me the rest of the afternoon to get rid of that sinking feeling.

    Saturday we sailed two races in a 15-25 knots gusty northerly. It could have been windier than that but I may have become desensitized because it was our third day of heavy air. The first race started before it really started to blow. Tito, Faude and Stark finished ahead of us. It turned out that Faude was OCS so we placed third.

    It was a typical shifty northerly, so watching the compass was key. It was especially important to know if you were on the lifted tack around the leeward mark. If you are on the lifted tack, you must work to hold your lane until the next shift comes. If you are headed, than you should do a a clearing tack to maintain clear air. Also, someone on the boat must keep track of the big picture. Getting caught up in a two or three boat race may result in missed wind shifts. In these conditions, our tactics were focused more on the wind shifts and the racecourse, than on our competition.

    Jibing down wind was the most dangerous maneuver. Finding the right wave was the trick. If you could manage to plane through the whole maneuver than life was easy. If you couldn't wait for the perfect wave, than keeping both twings close to the deck (1 foot off) would stabilize the spinnaker and help keep the jibe under control. The second race was even windier and we lost most of the fleet to breakdowns and capsizes. We finished fourth behind Tito, Stark and Proctor. We had some great rides downwind. There was time for another race, but I think that the race committee had their hands full, so they sent us in. My legs were not disappointed.

    Sunday the race committee decided to try for two races. The first race was started in a dying northeasterly. The wind continuously shifted back to the northwest but there were some huge holes that developed along the way. We finished first with Steve Hayden and Tito nipping at our heels.

    The breeze seemed to have stabilized for the start of the fourth race, but once again Mother Nature threw me a curve. We started at the boat end of the line and tacked on the first sizeable shift. After about a minute of sailing on port I looked over my shoulder and saw a huge left shift with great velocity. That puff instantly put us back in the middle of the fleet. We rounded the weather mark somewhere in the 20s. By the time we got to the leeward mark we had passed a hand full of boats and the shift had filled all the way down the course. We rounded the leeward mark and noticed that we were on a substantial lift. Sailing the shifts up the middle of the course paid. Most of the boats ahead of us sailed back into the left corner hoping for the breeze to go even further left. We rounded the last weather mark about ninth. The wind had actually gone slightly back to the right so a gibe set was the call. We were now on port, fetching the finish. We finished fifth. Tito finished twelfth, which gave us a four-point lead, and the Championship.

    I would like to thank my teammates Mike Breault and Maria White for staying motivated through the peaks and valleys. We would all like to thank SPYC for doing a great job with three days of tough conditions.




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