Please select your home edition
Rooster 2023 - Aquafleece - LEADERBOARD

An interview with Adam Young on the 2023 Deep South Lightning Regatta

by David Schmidt 21 Mar 2023 08:00 PDT March 23-25, 2023
2014 International Lightning Class Association Youth World Championship © International Lightning Class Association

There are a few names in yacht design that stop all debate. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff literally defines this category, however Olin Stephens, of Sparkman & Stephens fame, is probably the second name that most sailors would place on this elite list. Given Stephens' fame and the pedigree of his designs, it's therefore not that surprising that a dinghy that Stephens designed in 1938 should still be attracting top talent 85 years ex post facto.

The design in question is of course the Lightning.

The boat carries a fraction rig, a symmetrical kite, and a centerboard, and it's typically raced by crews of three. Add the right breeze and sea state, and the Lightning's flat undercarriage delivers the kinds of grins that have been making the boat a success for almost a century.

A glance at the Lightning Class Association's webpage reveals coast-to-coast fleets, but with the concentration laying east of the Rocky Mountains and south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. A glance at the calendar reveals engaging events such as the Deep South Lightning Regatta (March 23-25, 2023), which is being hosted by the Savanah Yacht Club in Savanah, Georgia.

I checked in with Adam Young, who serves as the SYC's sailing director, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Deep South Lightning Regatta's history, culture, and the kinds of sailors one can expect to meet at this regatta?

The Deep South Regatta was started at the Savannah Yacht Club eons ago. I'm a bit scared to guess the year but I have heard maybe 60 years...

This was a convenient stop for the class as they made their way further down South to escape the harsh winters on the East Coast. In the '50s, '60s, and '70s SYC had a huge fleet of Lightenings. Our regular weekly races had around 30 local boats competing.

SYC has a long history of world-class sailors, many of whom raced Lightenings. The Deep South Regatta is always a great event. There is hard racing on Friday and Saturday with wonderful fellowship Friday and Saturday night.

This regatta is always a super competitive event but at the end of the day, everyone goes out of their way to help newcomers get faster.

How would you describe competition levels at this year's event?

I am expecting great competition this year. I think that everyone is chomping at the bit to get back to Savannah. We had a couple of years of not having the regatta due to Covid. It's always interesting to look at the skippers and recognize big names from other classes. I think this regatta brings people out of the woodwork.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line?

We are expecting 30 to 40 boats this year.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of the Wilmington River (and/or the Skidaway River) in late March? Also, what weather conditions will dictate racing on one area vs. the other?

First of all, they can expect warmer weather than where they currently are...with the exception of Florida. Winters in Savannah are mild. Our average daily temps are 67 degrees in the winter months. Winds are a bit fickle during the winter but we are averaging 8-12 knots during midday.

Sailing in Savannah is unlike any other place. The course is set up on two rivers. At times the current can reach four knots, and we have an average of eight-foot tides that rise and drop throughout each day.

Our race committee is top-notch and always do a great job of giving the sailors a 45 to 60 minute race.

As a follow-up to the last question, what drives conditions on on the river(s) more: wind off of highlands, heat off the land, or the river's current? Or, is there a different primary driver that influences the racecourse(s) ?

The course is always set up with the primary focus being on wind direction but the RC does a great job of taking into account the tide.

I realize that these are still early days, but do you have any entries that you're eyeing for podium finishes?

Again, the registration list looks like a "who's who" of the sailing world. You have old timers like Lenny Crawcheck and youngsters looking to make their first big impression.

David Starck won the last time, and I just noticed there are three separate Starck boats competing. Matt Fisher sailed the last regatta with his brother Greg and they are always super-fast, regardless of the boat.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

Come early and stay late. Savannah is a wonderful place to visit and sail. You are ten minutes from historic downtown and world-class dining, and 15 minutes in the other direction from the beach.

As for the sailing, I learned long ago that you have to "bump" the board...meaning sail til you feel the centerboard hit, then pull it up three inches. You continue the process until you are in the marsh grass. It is sometimes all you can do to stay out of the current.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made to green-up the regatta and generally lower its environmental wake?

Because of where we are, i.e., minutes from the ocean, the club always does a great job of keeping waste to a minimum. We will be offering all registration and document online, and will not have any hard copies. We also encourage each competitor to bring their own water bottle, keeping single-use plastic to a minimum.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

We look forward to hosting the event and seeing everyone.

As a One Design sailor, I love anytime we have regattas like this at our club. The class is super friendly and always goes above and beyond getting everyone up to speed.

Related Articles

2024 505 Midwinter Championship interview
We talk with Ethan Bixby about the 2024 505 Midwinters Sail-World checked in with Ethan Bixby, event chair of the 2024 505 Midwinter Championship, to learn more about this competitive, warm-water One Design regatta. Posted on 20 Feb
It's a wrap!
In sailing we have a lot of plain white hulls In sailing we have a lot of plain white hulls. Let's face it, when everything looks the same, it does make things a bit dull. The end of February is a dreary time, so it's time to talk about boats which brighten things up. Posted on 19 Feb
Small Packages
You know? It is all about really good things You know? It is all about really good things. In sailing, two of the best attributes have always been fun and participation. Some would argue that these may have slipped off of late, but perhaps, it is more about finding a suitable offering. Posted on 13 Feb
Traffic at the Horn, ocean heartache, Rolex Awards
David Schmidt's latest North American racing newsletter A few weeks ago, I spilled a considerable amount of e-ink in this newsletter describing the embarrassment of riches that 2024 is presenting to the sailing world, and this has been on full display on the waters surrounding Cape Horn this past week. Posted on 13 Feb
Delivering us our…
Freedom. Best of all, you won't need to put blue paint all over your face to attain it Freedom. Best of all, you won't need to put blue paint all over your face to attain it, either. Equally, you won't have to go too far to find it, for there are a little more than 400 Freedom Boat Club locales the world over with 5,000 boats in the fleet. Posted on 11 Feb
A+T 500 series Wind Sensors
For the highest accuracy and faster response A+T Instruments may be a name that needs introducing to you in the world of performance marine instrumentation. They are a group of highly qualified engineers who are taking a no-compromise approach to constructing the best sensors and instruments. Posted on 9 Feb
2024 Sarasota Sunshine Sunfish Regatta interview
We talk with Mary Ellen Brown about the 2024 Sarasota Sunshine Sunfish Regatta Sail-World checked in with Mary Ellen Brown, event chair of the 2024 Sarasota Sunshine Sunfish Regatta, to learn more about this warm-water One Design regatta. Posted on 8 Feb
In Rarefied Company
Winning the ILCA 7 Worlds is one of the pinnacle achievements in sailing Winning the ILCA 7 Worlds is one of the pinnacle achievements in sailing. Winning it more than once puts you in rarefied company. Posted on 6 Feb
Book review: Knowledge 2.0
Staying Afloat in the Information Age - by Mark Chisnell This non-fiction book takes a handful of sailing stories and experiences, and draws out from them what it means to know something in this era of modelling, uncertainty, 'alternative' facts and fake news. It leans on science, psychology and narrative. Posted on 6 Feb
Eddie Cox on the Melges 15 class
A Q&A with Eddie Cox on the state of the Melges 15 class Sail-World checked in with Melges's Eddie Cox, via email, to learn more about the company's latest grin-inducing One Design. Posted on 6 Feb
Hyde Sails 2022 One Design FOOTERSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomABS24-SailWorld-1456x180-BOTTOM_05