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Scuttlebutt News:
Lightning Class reaches out

(Feb. 27, 2007) The International Lightning Class Association recently announced a new boat grant program, where two young teams will be awarded a competitive boat, substantial regatta subsidies for a season of racing, as well as mentoring and coaching. The purpose of the program is to help draw in new, younger sailors that might not otherwise be able to cover these initial costs. The grant program is the brainchild of 2003 Lightning North American Champion Allan Terhune and 2005 Runner-Up Bill Fastiggi, and it is these two who have kindly responded to a few questions posed by Scuttlebutt:

What do you see as the hindrance now for entry into the class? Has this changed over the past ten years?
We think there are two big issues. First and foremost cost. Lets face it, sailing your own boat can be expensive. The Lightning offers some unique advantages though; the boats are durable and retain good resale value, you only need three people so logistics are easier than bigger boats, and the class is just so active. There are boats all around the world. Second because the Lightning is an older design, many people have the perception that its an old mans boat. Young people remember their parents talking about learning how to sail in a Lightning and they think of classic wooden boats. New Lightnings look quite different with lots of controls, and boats are pretty technical. People are surprised to find that the Lightning is one of the most active classes around and the racing is very competitive and tactical. The North American Champs is typically a 75 to 100 boat regatta, and the Southern Circuit is probably the most fun you can legally have on a sailboat!

How does a program like this get off the ground? What is the budget, and how do you go about getting it?
The program is something that we (Allan Terhune and Bill Fastiggi) came up with prior to the North Americans last year in San Diego. First we identified a need. There are a lot of young sailors who participate in Junior and/or College sailing and then just drop out. We want to try to figure out ways to bridge that gap and keep them sailing. The Lightning class has always been very supportive of youth sailing, so we pitched this idea at the class meeting, and the response was very positive. Over the winter we worked out the details, built the website, and made an official proposal to the class fund directors. The budget is $30,000 for the first year and that includes buying two competitive boats, insurance, maintenance, regatta fees, and a few other expenses. Fortunately the ILCA has a fund for special projects like this.

What other programs did the class consider in using funds for promotion, and why did this idea win out?
The Lightning class has decided to be very proactive in this regard. The class is working on some other programs to expand and promote Lightning racing, but this one is pretty unique and really stood out. We are really excited about it, and wed like to see this program continue after this year and expand the number of grants we can offer. Of course that may require more fundraising! We are also working on a program that will help younger sailors finance the purchase of boats. In the past few years the Lightning has been used in the Sears Cup and Mallory Cup finals and some Collegiate Sloop championships and we want to continue to support these events too.

The class is also working very hard at International growth. The International status of Lightning Class sets us apart from some other popular classes. It is something we are very proud of and work hard to preserve. This year alone we are having two major international events: The World Championship in Greece and the Pan Am Games in Brazil. For the first time, we will have 3-4 boats from Nigeria participating in the worlds! Class President Steve Davis is working hard with some of the overseas Lightning fleets to further promote the Lightning in their areas. His priorities include getting more boats to South America and Europe, and to help foreign sailors come here to sail in the major championship events in North America.

Program information can be found by clicking here

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