The Lightning Class has a long and storied history. The history is populated by the some of the most accomplished one-design sailors in the world. The names of Allen, Goldsmith, Eichenlaub, Shore, Fisher, Lutz, Linton, “Tito,” Proctor and now Conte, among others, appear repeatedly throughout the list of champions. They are joined by many other iconic names from the world of sailing that have competed in our boats and added to the richness of our history. The accomplishments of many others who have successfully competed year after year in regattas across the country and around the world speak to the impact our Class has had on innumerable lives.
The story, however, is not just about participants and successes on the racecourse. It is also the story of multiple generations of families enjoying simple recreational sailing on a weekend afternoon. It is also the story of social activities and the strong bonds of friendship formed within fleets and among competitors that define who we are. Our history is reflected in the laughter of competitors, the communal lifting of Dark ‘n Stormies and the anticipation of renewing social relationships year after year in new and different venues.
These attributes are not unique to the Lightning Class of course, although our history is longer than most. One of the unique features of the Class, however, is that much of this history has been detailed on a contemporary basis in the issues of Flashes, the Class newsletter that has been published routinely for decades. Moreover, for the majority of its history, the Lightning Class published yearbooks that compiled the stories of significant events related to the Class on an annual basis. These publications not only tell our story in written form but contain the photographic record of events that give vitality to the written word. The written record was clearly authored with enthusiasm and reflects the passion with which our members are devoted to the Class.
All of this is remarkable in its own right but of marginal value if it is only accessible to the very few that have been long-time members of the Class and have saved their copies of this treasure trove of information. The list of Class members falling into this category is, not surprisingly, pretty short. No longer. While our sailing activities have been limited this year by the pandemic, the Class has continued to function and provide ongoing benefits in other ways, not the least of which is the effort to scan and publish all of our historical records.
With lead funding supplied by the Mary Huntsman History Fund and a focused fundraising effort through our classic boat group led by Bob Astrove, the Class expects to have the scanned documents available online before the end of the year. I can personally attest to the fun of reliving many of the events of the past and being reminded of the people who have been such an integral part of the Class over the years. There will be an opportunity to look up and follow the history of your boat, the history of various regattas and the history of your competitors as you never could before. It is simply another resource available to Lightning Class members that is among the unique features of our Class. I hope you will consider responding to Bob’s call for contributions in support of this worthy project and thereafter sit back and enjoy the fruits of this effort.
A Modest Proposal to Reduce the Funding Gap
The dramatic reduction in regatta activity has certainly had a negative impact on our budget this year. Fortunately, we have the resources to weather the storm. Nevertheless, there is one area of our budgeted income stream that is obviously lagging this year.…Crew Dues. Sanctioned regattas require that all skippers and crew be current ILCA members. We all know that we frequently recruit different crew members for different regattas and, as a result, it is not unusual for crew dues to be paid at the regatta where each new crew member participates. The lack of regattas has clearly curtailed the collection of crew dues this season.
ILCA crew memberships are a mere $10 per year. I suggest and request that you consider investing in the equivalent of two crew dues for your boat this year by making an additional twenty-dollar contribution to the Class. It’s not much but if every skipper made such a contribution it would go a long way toward closing the income gap that unforeseen circumstances have imposed on us this year. I recognize that many members are on tight budgets but to the extent that you can, every little bit helps. Of course, contributions in excess of your regular membership dues are tax deductible, which is an additional benefit.
We are all looking forward to the return of some semblance of normalcy so that we can resume our familiar sailing schedule. I look forward to seeing that happen sooner than later.