Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Montreal Lightning do the Southern Circuit

Regular readers of Montreal Sailing know we have a couple of themes, that are of interest around this time of year. One is that, spring sailing is going to begin pretty soon, and it's time to start working the boat. Audacious dinghy sailors have already been out! I'm keeping watch for Larry's C&C Mega, usually one of the first heavyweights to splash. That is one of my signals to start panicking with late boat prep. But, hey hold on a minute, because we still have an overlap approaching the mark. The winter sailing season is not over yet. We can aptly steal a term from basketball, and say that March Madness is still persisting into April. Look no farther than the upcoming world championship in the J24 class. More teams from Montreal will soon be on their way south.

Perhaps the busiest winter sailing calendar belongs to the Lightning Class. They recently concluded their Southern Circuit Any of us would be grateful to be one of the Montrealers belonging to a class allowing ONE getaway from the grip of winter, sailing in the southern climes where sweater weather is as chilly as it gets, and eighty Fahrenheit is common. The Lightning class has a series of THREE regattas:

1. the Deep South Regatta at the Savannah Yacht Club, Savannah, GA, March 14 to 15,
2. the Miami Midwinter Regatta at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, Coral Gables, FL, March 17 to 18
3. and the Winter Championship at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, St. Petersburg, FL, March 20 to 22.

This year saw a blend of sailors going down from 3 clubs on Lac St. Louis, BYC, PCYC, and RStLYC. Stephen Waldie, pictured right, took one of the three Montreal area boats down for the 2 of the regattas. Waldie was a recipient of the Lightning Boat Grant in 2007. The boat grants are pretty cool for young sailors looking for an entry in high performance regattas.
The Southern Circuit according to Waldie typically has competition including builders, sailmakers, and pros. Furnished to the teams are high quality boats, some travel expenses, and mentorship.

Stephen Waldie: Jess Lombard is the recipient of the Lightning grant this year and will be sailing with all female crew of Stephanie Boucher and Caroline Trottier. (both from Montreal) The boat we sailed was not the grant boat and was generously donated by the Montreal Lightning fleet! Jess was mid and my friend Max Bulger from Boston was foredeck. I am planning to sail that boat over the summer and hopefully train against Jess and the rest of the fleet in preparation for the Canadians and North Americans this summer. I will be the helm.

Waldie has a busy sailing sched: After the Lightning circuit Waldie went on to sail the 29er Midwinters East in Sarasota with regular crewmate David Gelston. Beyond that, Waldie says, We have a lot planned for the spring. I am traveling to the Wilson trophy team race in Liverpool, England in May with the McGill sailing team, followed by the Montreal HP clinic. We will be training in the 420 at PCYC this weekend and over the next few weeks in preparation for England.

Olympian, Olver Bone also made it to one of the regattas, sailing with the famous team skippered by Lightning stalwart Larry Macdonald.

Longtime Montreal Lightning fleet members Michael Holly, Valerie Tardif, and Christine Wheatley raced two of the regattas.

Finally, but certainly not least, the team of Jamie Allan, Marc Littee, Jay Deakin raced all three regattas of the series and placed 10th overall. Racing against legendary names like Terhune, Lutz, Gonzalez, Macdonald, Dieball, and on and on... that's quite a feat.

Beyond high calibre racing, attendees benefited from the usual partying. Apparently "nature" views included not just dolphins, manatees, jelly-fish, loons, and schools of mullet, but also the raw human variety in South Beach.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing