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Scuttlebutt News:
2007 Lightning Southern Circuit

Welcome to Spring Break
Part road-rally, part party/reunion, the International Lightning Class Association’s Southern Circuit has been running continuously since 1964. It’s big, it’s fun, and after a year of planning, I just hope we will have wonderful weather.

The event starts in Savannah, then goes to Miami, and finishes at what will be the 60th Annual Winter Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida. Over 50 boats have signed up for the Circuit on the ILCA website (, though these numbers tend to vary. Some skippers choose to skip one or another of the three events in favor of a quick trip back to work or over to Disney.

The Circuit is full of stories and lore, most of which get retold around the modern campfire of the clubhouse bar. I hope to draw on the innate story-telling and blogging talents of people across the class this year to tell this year’s adventures. Thanks for joining us online, and thanks to Scuttlebutt for letting us share this year’s Southern Circuit. -- Amy Smith Linton, VP Southern Circuit

The events:
  • March 10-11 - Deep South Regatta - Savannah YC, Savannah, GA
  • March 12-14 - Miami Midwinter Championship - Coral Reef YC, Miami, FL
  • March 16-18 - St Petersburg Winter Championship - St Petersburg YC, St Petersburg, FL

  • Results:
    March 10 - March 11 - March 12 - March 14 - March 15 - March 16 - March 19

    Monday, March 19, 2007
    St. Pete/Circuit Wrap Up - by Amy Smith Linton

    If this is Monday, that must be eau d’van I smell. Many Southern Circuit competitors are still driving home today, nursing various levels of sailing injuries: from windburn to blisters, from bruises to the after effects of the rum front, from raccoon-eye and hiking-boot sunburn lines and sore muscles. The natural result of a whole lotta sailing in a short 8 days. I am confronted by the Matterhorn of salty, fully ripe gear. The mistakes I make in this report are the natural result of being personally in the wash cycle for nearly two weeks.

    2007 Circuit Champs
    North Sails’ Ched Proctor of Cedar Point YC in Connecticut won the 2007 Southern Circuit with crew members Jay Mueller and Jim Barnash. Proctor squeaked out a one-point victory (54 points for the 13-race series) over last year’s winner Jeff Linton of Tampa. 42 Lightning teams completed all three races, including four first-time Circuiters. James Taylor of Cleveland Ohio (the Seinfeld blog guys) finished first among the “new guys” in 11th overall to take home the Humphrey Newcomer Award, with Debbie Probst and Juan Santos of Ecuador hot on his heels in 12th and 13th respectively.

    Also racing the circuit for the first time was Marcelo Leon of Ecuador. In a novel approach to adventure vacations, Leon was on honeymoon during the circuit with new bride Maria Clara Ordonez. During the banquet on Saturday night over an impromptu wedding cake, a quick straw poll showed that the Leons were not the only sailing couple to celebrate the Circuit: 2007 St. Petersburg Masters Champion George Fisher -- who attended the first of the St. Petersburg Winter Championships 60 years ago – also, according to his story, left his wedding reception with a Lightning in tow. Apparently, upon returning with the new Mrs. Fisher after the Southern Circuit, he was looked upon with deep suspicion by his in-laws, who were not even remotely interested in seeing HIS bruises.

    Jim Carson of Brick, NJ, was awarded the Karl Smither award at the Saturday night banquet. This award, deeded by Don Gregory of St. Petersburg, recognizes the qualities of an individual Corinthian yachtsman, Lightning enthusiast, and an class mentor. Jim Carson, who will turn 80 this spring, typically sails with at least one high-school kid (this year Michael Crann, last year’s Davis Youth Award winner and Matt Reiser). Last year’s winner, Ann Allen, was on hand to congratulate Mr. Carson.

    The other non-North American teams were recognized at the awards ceremony as well: Chileans Victor Lobos, Sebastian Lobos and Hugo Perrin, Ecuadorians Juan Santos, Juan Andreas Santos and Miguel Plaza, and Nigerian new boat owner (a shipment of new Nichols Boatworks boats will ship to Nigeria this summer) Gary Schwantz. The new “historical” class video (perhaps “hysterical” might also apply once the crowd got a load of those haircuts! Those kooky old-fashioned spinnakers!) debuted to general approval.

    Adam MacDonald
    Ian Schillebeeckx of Missouri was awarded the Davis Youth Trophy. At 18, this high-school senior sailed with North Sails’ Brian Hayes of Milford Yacht Club into 7th place overall on the Circuit. Among the youngsters was scrappy Adam MacDonald, 12, and maybe 90 lbs soaking wet (and he WAS soaking wet) sailed the whole heavy-air circuit with his dad and teen sister Joy.

    The 60th Annual St. Petersburg Winter Lightning Championship included 6 races in mostly heavy air and big chop. The race committee headed by Tom Farquahar kept a patient watch on the front as it came through on Friday, and got two good races each day, despite the challenges of a 72-boat fleet and the push of an incoming tide. The tide encouraged a number of general recalls, which put the new class regulation permitting the use of hand-held radios to good purpose.

    The top three positions finished within 4 points, the top six positions within 10 points: to say it was close racing doesn’t nearly cover it. Tommy Allen, Jr. of Buffalo, NY, one of the class’s boat-builders, did a horizon job on the fleet in the first race on Saturday, while Todd Wake of Sheboygan (last year’s top newcomer for the circuit) took the second race Saturday going away. Jeff Linton of Tampa won the event by a single point over Ched Proctor. He sailed with long-time crew Mark T. Taylor of Tampa, and yours truly, Amy Smith Linton.

    George Harrington of Atlantic Highlands, NJ, is the 2007 winner of the Mid-Tampa-Bay award. The award was incorrectly ascribed during the awards ceremony to another skipper. Apologies all around. Mr. Harrington sailed with Taugh Lynch and Aaron Freeman.

    Remember the Walk of Shame? That’s when someone – not you yourself naturally, but someone you knew – came dragging home the morning after in the clothes from the night before? On Sunday morning, with a brisk low 60’s breeze blowing across the Sailing Center, who should appear among the crowd of sailors in their Lifa and neoprene, grinning and with his hair mussed, still wearing his banquet shirt and dancing shoes? To name no names, but in an editorial aside, it might be noted that his skills as a dancer clearly helped him to an on-shore adventure. Seriously, take salsa lessons or something, make us all happier.

    In the “Very Good News” department, we were all relieved and glad to know that John Faus’ crew Mac Deturo, who fell ill on the racecourse Sunday in St. Pete, recovered and walked out of the hospital later the same day.

    Click here for overall St Pete results.

    Click here for St Pete Masters results.

    Click here for Lightning Southern Circuit Overall results.

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    Friday, March 16, 2007
    Welcome to St. Petersburg - 60 Years in the making - by Amy Smith Linton

    It started auspiciously: picture-postcard weather conditions: 70 degrees, brilliant sunshine, and a romping southerly on Thursday. Ideal conditions for unpacking and setting up the boats (AGAIN! If you haven’t improved your set-up time from 45 minutes of head-scratching and wondering whether the upper shrouds go aft or forward, to about 12 minutes of pulling pins and threading ringie-dingies without looking, you haven’t been on the Southern Circuit long enough).

    And the 60th anniversary celebrations started just as one might hope: not only a $60 discount for early registration at St. Pete, but registration set up with a view to the pool (conveniently located next to the Tiki Hut, did I mention?), competitor’s meeting and class business concluded with speed. Then on to beer -- beautiful beer -- mounds of delicious hors d’oeuves, commemorative mugs, plenty of socializing.

    Still, a romping Southerly on Tampa Bay is a mixed blessing, because it’s usually the result of an impending front. So a romping Southerly during registration and set-up day often bodes ill.

    Friday morning’s weather reported 7 from the SW, 9 from the South, but after carrying a load of gear to the car, one sailor reported, “I think they forgot a one or something.” The high wind advisory was flashing on the bridges. The Race Committee had the AP up well before most sailors arrived at the sailing center. Thunder storms, and, in the monotone of the NOA weather announcer: “A band of strong thunderstorms moving across the area…”

    Serious Jenga player
    What’s to do when it’s pouring and there are 72 teams hanging around the Sailing Center? Well, break out the Giant Jenga, put together an impromptu Lightning Lab (chalk talk with experts like Brian Hayes, John Faus, Bill Fastiggi, etc.).

    But we snatch racing from the jaws of inclement weather: the last cell rolls through and the Race Committee is ready to give it a try at around 1 pm. The prediction is to have maybe one race before the building post-front Northerly puts the big smack-down on the Lightning fleet. Instead we have two five-legged windward-leewards in heavy but not survival-level conditions: upper teens, with the patented St. Pete chop. Racing reports to come separately, as I try to make press time despite the distractions of a) a complimentary rum tasting party and b) the continuing Giant Jenga tournament.

    Click here for overall results.

    Click here for Masters results.

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    Thursday, March 15, 2007
    "I met my Skipper on the internet!" Here's a tale of how some folks are gett'n done.
    It’s not an uncommon thing, these days, to make an acquaintance through the internet with someone who you don’t know personally, but who has the same or similar interests as you. And of course, it’s also quite common for those people to arrange in-person rendezvous, in order to share that common passion, so to speak.

    That’s the case for a number of sailing competitors, boat-owner/skippers and their crew-members who are participating in this year’s 2007 Edition of the International Lightning Class Association’s “Triple Crown” – The fabled Southern Circuit Regatta/s. Larry Brown and Wayne Knibloe had never sailed with or even knew their Skippers, respectively, Pam Barron & Starling Mikell III, before last weekend…!

    Larry, who lives in Boston, MA, is crewing this week for Pam Barron who sails her Lightning [#15180] on Lake Lanier, which is nearby Duluth and Atlanta, GA. Wayne, from Buffalo, NY, who sails in Abino Bay on the Canadian shores of Lake Erie [when it’s not frozen…!], is crewing for Starling Mikell III, who races his Lightning, Yellow Boat [#15118], on the lower Susquehanna River near York & Lancaster, PA.

    What these sailors have in common is a passion for close but friendly, on-the-water sailing/racing competition in the [19’-6” / Center-board] Lightning sailboat. Approximately 60 of this high-performance racing sailboats will compete in three individual regattas in nine [9] days.

    The enduring nature of these internet relationships is best described by Larry Brown’s experience. He not only arranged his crew-job for the Southern Circuit through a posting on the International Lightning Class Association’s website. He has also arranged to participate as a crew-member in this summer’s, up-coming Lightning World Championships in Greece!

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    Wednesday, March 14, 2007
    Providing "Just the Facts, Ma’m" from Miami is Amy Smith Linton:

    What’s pink and white and bruised all over? Pale-skinned Northern Lightning sailors after two days in Miami’s plentiful breeze and tropically sunny conditions. The mid-week Miami Midwinter Championships drew 59 Lightnings to Coral Reef Yacht Club, including 45 boats continuing on from Savannah’s Deep South Regatta.

    Quantum Racing’s Skip Dieball won with a very consistent set of finishes (2,4,8,2,2 for 18 total). Dieball who stayed with many-time World Snipe Champion Augie Diaz, said he took advantage of the “Old Man Express.” That is, according to “Old Man Diaz” (Augie’s dad Gonzalo), when the wind comes from 115 degrees or higher on Biscayne Bay, go left until lay-line, go a little more, and then chug on into the mark. Seems to have worked great for Skip, his brother Ernie, and fore-decker Anne Marie Shewfelt. Deep South winner David Starck finished second with 26 points in total.

    Steve Hayden's team doing a horizon job
    Tuesday’s racing – three windward-leeward courses in 12-15 knots – was followed by a generous pasta dinner at Coral Reef Yacht Club, and a Hoola Hoop contest and general spectacle. Young people proved to have the edge in the Hooping, with teenaged Joy MacDonald and 20-something Meagan Hawn controlling the women’s competition, and a spry, anonymous member of the observing BU sailing team taking the men’s group. Additional “handicapped” divisions were suggested, including a welterweight or “fat old guy” class, and a “yummy mummy” division, and a “tuck-a-buck past-president’s fund-raising” class. When asked what he thought about an over-sixty class for the Hoola Hooping, 79-year-old Jim Carson of New Jersey actually snorted, and said, “How about an over-80 division?”

    Wednesday brought even more breeze (13-17 knots with big chop) and perhaps half a dozen boats found themselves on the wrong side of the deck, swimming about, collecting various bits and bobs of sailing gear. With characteristic focus, regatta Chair Carol Ewing and PRO Ed Asmus got two good windward-leeward races – and one general recall – finished, scored, prizes awarded and taco buffet served by 3 pm. Many of us were able to get out of Miami before rush hour (and head north to the final Circuit event in St Petersburg, FL)!

    Joel Humphrey of Fleet 54 in Michigan took the Middle-of-the-Fleet trophy, taking the opportunity with the microphone to share the valuable lesson he learned this Southern Circuit: “If you stay out late enough, the Yacht Club will lock the gates, and then you won’t be able to get your car out of the parking lot, and you won’t be able to go back to your hotel. And so two of your crew will have to sleep in the car, while the other one will have to sleep in the boat.” And that’s a pretty serious chunk of wisdom.

    Click here for complete results.

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    Monday, March 12, 2007
    Reflecting on the Deep South Regatta by #15172 “ROCKY”, skippered by James Taylor with crew Bryon Riddiford and Stan Cummins.

    Our trip down from Ohio was smooth sailing: arrived in Savannah early Friday evening and immediately began our MapQuest adventure that would continue through the entire weekend. After exiting the highway, we found that we were now in the midst of a marathon. I think we later determined it was the St. Patrick’s. Day Race. What is this, a town that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day for two weeks?

    With traffic being delayed and redirected our MapQuest planned route was obsolete we had to improvise. We did what is difficult for adult males to do, we pulled out our AAA map of the Savannah area, and started plotting a new course to the yacht club.
    An aside about the AAA map: Even though it was a new map to us, it must have been in storage for years and had grown brittle as parchment, splitting at every fold. As a result it was quickly became a jigsaw puzzle of the Savannah area, with long sections separating away from the whole and every movement of the map generating more failures of the folds. But we are men, and who needs a map anyway? The map/jigsaw was history. Now it was dead reckoning. The Compass was in the car so we pulled that out.

    We took a hitch to the left with the hope that we could clear our air and get moving again. However, this was only a momentary reprieve, as once we returned to our original heading we were once again in the marathon. This time they were crossing our bow with starboard right of way. We were slow and the skipper was getting impatient. It was time for drastic measures. Turning hard to port, we decided to take it to the lay line: Presidents Street.

    For those who don’t know, downtown Savannah is a patchwork of village squares and streets and this sometimes results in a less than direct route to your destination. As we discovered later, this is a common occurrence in Savannah, both on land and water. Presidents Street has many of these squares, so even though our air was clear, our speed was not making our skipper any happier. We were forced to make too many tacks, resulting in a low VMG.

    Feeling that it was too early to be on the lay line, the crew was looking to go back right. But the skipper was hesitant to make a change, and until we could spot the mark for him, he was holding this shifty course. Out came the map/jigsaw puzzle. Struggling with the three inch wide strips of the map/jigsaw and searching the 0.5 point font sized printing, we were finally able to locate the mark for the yacht club and saw a clear lane with good power to the right.

    Accepting this call from the crew, the skipper flipped right and brought us back to the middle, Oglethorpe Street. Now we were moving and life was good. Approaching Broad Street, it was time now to get left again and so we turned to port to reach Presidents Street and our run to the club. Every thing was smooth from there on to the club. That is until our return trip to Savannah and our Hotel.

    On the Water
    OK, the next day we made it to the club, set the boat up, and were ready (we don’t want to talk about getting back to the hotel that night, … can you say great circle route, where’s that compass?). Out on the water is great until you look for the weather mark from the start. Where is it? It’s just over the reeds (land), someone says. So we sailed around to see the Olympic-T course weather mark. Now we are ready, back to the start. Great start, here we go, set-up perfectly to tack around the ground. Tacking, we line up… where is the mark? We all look. It’s moved 90o. Big reset. Actually the racing was fun, 30-knot gusts and 10 feet from the reeds is really fun unless you have a chute opps and round up into the dirt. That doesn’t happen every day. Luckily we didn’t do this but there were a few unlucky boats that did.

    Savannah has a great facility and the hospitality is tremendous. If it was not for the gnats [posted gnat factor was .002, as reported on the official race notice. What’s the scale?] and the land in the way, it would be perfect. All in all we had a wonderful time, and can’t wait to try the GPS next year. On shore.

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    Sunday, March 11, 2007
    Commentary following day two (final day) of the Deep South Regatta.

    For flippin' burgers and slippin' spin sheets
    * From Amy Linton: The Aunt Jemima treatment? Always keep a sharp look-out for novel uses for ordinary household implements. A hotel hair-dryer works great to cure fresh fiberglass after a hard day’s sailing. A spring-loaded clothesline reel makes a snappy spinnaker-halyard take-up device. Gardening gloves give an excellent grip even away from the garden. Here’s a Midwestern take on Yankee ingenuity in the photo to the right. David Samanich of Cleveland uses a nylon spatula to keep the spinnaker lines from dropping over the bow of the Lightning. “It’s nice and flexible.” According to his crew. And, we might add, super handy in case of a flapjack emergency.

    Ruhlman family of Cleveland, OH
    How many skippers per family? The Ruhlmans from Cleveland, OH, bring three boats: one each for kids Ryan and Maegan, while parents Abby and Rob compete on another. So what happens at the dinner table after you have to tack on your son or call starboard on your daughter, or, heaven forbid, put a smackdown on Dad downwind?

    Okay, imagine this: you’re driving your rig south, minding your own business on Route 95 when traffic conditions suddenly require you to take a jaunt onto the shoulder. It’s okay, you’re safe, but then some time later you notice that you’re missing one of the fenders on your trailer.

    The fender from mile marker 71
    Of course you call your friend the boat builder to see if he’s bringing an extra fender to the Southern Circuit. He asks how you lost the thing, and you tell your story. After a brief pause, it occurs to you. “Hey, Tommy, where exactly are you?” And so, when he arrives in Savannah, Tom Allen, Jr. is able to deliver to Brian Hayes’ one slightly battered fiberglass fender. He found it around mile marker 71.

    Overheard at the clubhouse: Jamie Brickell of Severn Sailing Association was talking about sailing with his wife and grown daughter. “My wife’s hiking strap let go and she nearly went into the drink. My daughter looks at us, dripping wet and bruised, and says, ‘Why don’t you to play bridge or something, like other people your age?’ Ha ha ha.”

    Savannah Yacht Club 2007 Deep South Regatta Roundup from skipper Josh Goldman:

    57 boats sail (and some finish) a shortened two race series on the river.

    Saturday’s forecast of 5 to 10 from the northeast turned out to actually be 15 to 18 with some wicked puffs including some outstanding directional shifts. The Savannah YC’s crack team of five rescue boats were kept busy as ten boats -- including former North American champion Jody Lutz and North Sails lightning guru Brian Hayes -- failed to keep their boats upright in Race 2. Luckily the damage was minimal, with no broken masts, and only a few bumps and bruises at press time.

    Sunday proved to be a bust with more current then wind and repeated on-shore postponements before the event was finally called at around 1 o’clock.

    Southern Circuit laundromat
    If sailing is defined as "Hours of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror,” the terror here is defined by Buffalo Canoe Club’s Dave Starck who captured first place with an impressive 3-1 series, followed by Tampa's Jeff Linton and Ched Proctor from Southport,CT. Dave Starck, sailing with his brothers Joe and Tom, took top spot, and head to the next venue of the Southern Circuit with a total of only 4 points. Starck will sail with his wife Jody (Swanson), and middle crew Bill Faude in Miami. This same team will represent the US in the 2007 Pan Am Games next summer in Brazil.

    John Faus of Barnagat Light YC earned a spot on the Middle-of-the-River Award. This mid-fleet trophy lives at the Savannah YC, in a position of honor in the main bar.

    Complete results can be found on the
    ILCA website, but of note: the two South American teams in Savannah included skipper Juan Santos from Salinas, Ecuador, while Marcelo Leon flew in from Quito, Ecuador. Other teams came from as far as Canada, Colorado, Vermont, and the Midwest.

    Once again Savannah YC provided outstanding southern hospitality in hosting the event, including bar staff who remember your name from year to year, folks to help operate the boat hoists, and a seriously big oyster roast on Saturday night.

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    Saturday, March 10, 2007
    David Starck, Buffalo NY reporting after day one of the Deep South Regatta.

    Here we are at the legendary oyster roast at the Savannah Yacht Club. Any spelling errors can be blamed on the excellent bar service at the Savannah Yacht Club. Sorry!

    57 Boats (2nd largest fleet ever in Savannah! According to rumor, anyhow.)…it was very busy on this first day of the Deep South Regatta and the beginning of the 2007 Southern Circuit. ENE winds around 10-18 knots, sunny skies – a beautiful day to sail. Chamber of Commerce conditions. The kind of day that makes you want to move to Savannah, Georgia, and race on the confluence of the Willmington and Skidway Rivers.

    click to enlarge
    Ecuadorian team headed by Juan Santos and skipper Debbie Probst
    Sailing with me are my brothers Tom and Joe Starck, both from Cleveland, Ohio. It was a delight to get out of the freezing Great Lakes conditions. We finished the day with a 3-1 in building breeze as a gorgeous day came to a close. It was super fun to spend time with your siblings. The hospitality here in Savannah is unmatched. Lightning sailors are always treated with big smiles, lots of food and drink, etc. It’s a treat to be here. More news tomorrow.

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