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Southern Circuit

2024 Recap - Results, Awards, Newbie Report &More!
By Laura Jeffers
Posted: 2024-04-05T14:43:00Z

Wow! We had some beautiful sailing conditions in Florida this year! 7 races over 3 days in St Pete and then we kicked off Miami with a day of 3 great races in picture perfect conditions - check out the cool recap video! Unfortunately the sailing fun ended after the first day, weather rolled in and we had to abandon the final two days of racing, but everyone went home happy having that taste of perfect Miami sailing!

We had many new teams and teams in new boats on the circuit. Zane Yoder from Alabama wrote a neat prospective and you can read that in the Recap Blog. Andy Taylor from Connecticut got a taste last year in St Pete and came back this year in his new boat. We had 3 skippers Under 30 participating in the circuit for the first time. Scott Harris from North Carolina, continuing the Harris Family Lightning legacy. Aidan Naughton from Rhode Island, one of this years Boat Grant Recipients. Finally Brian Hayes, Jr. from Connecticut skippering in the full Southern Circuit for the first time and taking the honors of winning the Humphrey Newcomer Award. The level of enthusiasm was contagious and by the end of the week there were over 30 boats that had already registered for the North Americans...2024 is going to be a great year! But back to the Circuit...

Racing in St Pete was really tight. We saw the return of 2002 NAs Champ Bill Healy sailing with Kim Couranz and Laura Jeffers and the Lutz Brother's with Christine Moloney, hot off their Feb Helly Hansen win, both started off well but both fell short on day two with breakdown issues. That helped open the field to about 7 other boats. 13 points separated places 1-7and three boats could have won during the last race.

Top 5:

1 - Augie Diaz, Paula Herman, Enrique Quintero

2 - David Starck, Sabrina Starck, Matty Schon

3 - Ryan Davidson, Timothius Crann, Jo Ann Fisher

4 - Tom Peterson, Mike Blackwood, Amy Simonsen

5 - Bill Faude, Monica Morgan, Jared Drake

Full Results Winter and Masters Championships

Master's Top 3:

1 - Ched Proctor, Eric Belda, Meredith Killion

2 - Debbie Probst, Jenna Probst/Adam Probst, Jenn Millar

3 - Bill Faude, Monica Morgan, Jared Drake

While making the trek from St Pete to Miami several teams stopped along the way to look for alligators and there were reports of success! Next year we may have to have to give a prize to the team that spots the most but for safety concerns we may not require photographic proof!

Coconut Grove Sailing Club was once again a gracious host in Miami. Thursday's forecast was terrific and the racing was beautiful. Three up on the rail, sailing in just shorts and and tee shirt. Shifty winds and nice breeze allowing for tactically challenging sailing in a fleet that was well matched for very competitive sailing. Three different race winners, with a lot of position changes throughout the racing. The best quote of the day was from Boat Grant Crew, Marina Barzaghi who said, " This was the closest to college sailing I've seen (since then)" and she's been out almost 5 years now and has sailed big boats, F-18's and a lot in between. "It was really fun" and her team enjoyed the competition and comradery amongst the sailors. Team Naughton is excited for the upcoming summer. Cristobal Perez and Alfred Sherman flew in from Chile to just sail in the Miami event with Laura Jeffers. They were one of 3 teams to post all single digit scores and lead the fleet after the first and what turned out to be the last day of racing. A line of strong storms were predicted to and came in Thursday late morning. The rain, thunder storms and strong winds didn't let up until late Saturday afternoon. Racing was called for both Friday and Saturday, leaving the results after day one as final. 

Top 5:

1 - Cristobal Perez, Alfred Sherman, Laura Jeffers  

2 - Augie Diaz, Enrique Quintero, Paula Herman

3 - Clint Neuman, June Neuman, Jeremy Wenig  

4 - Ched Proctor, Nathan Cunningham, Chloe Frentzel  

5 - Ryan Ruhlman, Tesse Ruhlman, Caroline Sundman

Midwinter Championship Results

Overall Southern Circuit

18 Boats qualified for the overall circuit scoring. Team Diaz proved consistent throughout the two events counting all single digit scores for a total of 43 points. 

Top 5: 

1 - Augie Diaz, Paula Herman, Enrique Quintero

2 - David Starck, Sabrina Starck, Matty Schon, Tom Starck

3 - Ched Proctor, Eric Belda, Meredith Killion, Nathan Cunningham, Chloe Frentzel

4 - Joe Starck, PJ Schaffer, Katherine Starck, Adam Starck

5 - Brian Hayes, Jr., Brian Hayes Sr., Emma Hawko, Chris Schon

Overall Southern Circuit Results

Photo Links:

ILCA Flickr Page - collection of 186 photo's of both St Pete and Miami

SPYC Photos both on the water and land contains all photos taken by SPYC

Midwinter Hightlights Video - Kathleen Tocke Media really cool video!!

Special Awards:

Middle of Tampa Bay: Charles Quigley, CH Ritt, Eva Burpee

Middle of Biscayne Bay: Gustavo Tamayo / Javier Delgado / Gabriel


Colin Park Trophy (Highest placing husband/wife at Winter Championship): Debbie and Adam Probst

Davis Youth Award (Southern Circuit): Sabrina Starck

Dr. Georges Peter Trophy (Highest Great Grand Master Southern Circuit/default Winter Championship): Gary Hurban

Jack Mueller Trophy (Highest Grand Master Southern Circuit): Augie Diaz

Humphrey Newcomer Award (Highest first time Southern Circuit Skipper): Brian Hayes, Jr.

Karl Smither Trophy - David Sprague

The Smither Trophy is awarded annually by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club at the Winter Championship. For those who may not know, Karl Smither was Anne Allen’s father, Tom Allen Jr’s grandfather, and Shelby & Karl’s great grandfather.


The award recognizes the contributions of a Corinthian sailor, class mentor, and Lightning enthusiast. This year’s recipient embodies what this award represents and more. Congratulations to David Sprague, from Toronto Ontario, Canada - Fleet 146.

David is an individual who defines the word Volunteer. He goes above and beyond helping at all levels within the class. He demonstrates each and every day why the Lightning Class is so important to him by helping others, and helping support and grow the class (and the sport in general). He is a former class President, Chief Measurer, and VP/Pan Am Games. He has sat on rules committees and helped shape aspects of the sport we enjoy today. Further, David has volunteered at many Pan American and the Olympic Games. He has served in critical roles

including Measurement, Judging, and Race Committee at various local, National and International events. Finally, David continues to actively race his Lightning. He just competed at the Southern Circuit, sailing in the Pan American

Games configuration.

Please congratulate David when you see him at the next regatta. Well done David, thank you for your continued service to the Lightning Class. Photo includes SPYC Vice Commodore Joe DiVito presenting the trophy to Sprague that resides at St Petersburg YC.

George Fisher Sportsmanship Award - Brian Hayes, Sr.

The George Fisher Sportsmanship is awarded annually at the Southern Circuit. This award signifies a sailor who exhibits exemplary sportsmanship both on and off the water during the Southern Circuit. George always felt sportsmanship was one of our class’s strongest and most valuable attributes. He wanted to recognize a sailor whose fellow competitors felt best demonstrated those characteristics.


This year’s recipient is extremely deserving of this award. Brain Hayes Sr. never stops helping others with tuning, repairing, fixing, and listening. Even helping and encouraging others to make sure they can get to regattas! He is always there, willing to lend a helping hand. Brian loves the Lightning Class and is exactly the type of individual George would seek out in the parking lot as well as on the water. Brian cares about each and every person in the class, no matter who you are or what are sailing goals and ambitions may be.  

Please congratulate Brian when you see him. Brian, thank you for your service to the Lightning Class. Photo below: Front Center - Thomas Allen presenting award to Brian Hayes, Sr. and most of the fleet members surrounding them.

Thoughts from a Newbie: Zane Yoder

Hi all, Zane here. I met many of you in St Pete, at the Winter Championship. Let me give a shout out to my Annapolis neighbors, Lisa-Marie & Jim Lane and Pauline Kaiser.  They helped me immensely. They gave me tons of advice.  And I will say, everyone in this class was super helpful with all of my questions. I think I looked at just about every boat and got a lot of various opinions on rigging from everyone. I have a ton of new rigging ideas that I plan to put into use in the upcoming months. So thank you for that Lightning Class. You know how to make a Newbie feel welcome.

Many of you didn't know me before I landed into this class. I sail a lot. Like an awful lot. I currently spend most of my time bouncing between Viper 640's, Melges 24's, and J22's. But I grew up sailing Flying Scots, Sunfish, Lasers, R19, and well, too many boats to list. I am also a Quantum Sails rep. I have won a fair share of nationals, and am generally considered one of the better sailors in any class I jump into. And let me tell you. Many of my counterparts have told me this class would be the end of me. Or shall I say the end of my ego. And I will say, it did not disappoint!  Granted, coming into the Winter Champs, I had exactly 1 hour of time on a Lightning, my crew had zero and one had never flown a symmetrical spinnaker. So the odds were not stacked in our favor. But at any rate, this class has talent all over the place. You can tell Lightning sailors know their boats and what makes them go fast. Something I have yet to learn.  

I recently purchased hull 14956. The local Fleet on Mobile Bay, has grown from 2 boats to 7. I am 8. I am rarely one to be left out of good OD sailing. My friend Stuart Adams, who has, Electric Oyster (13880) , kept stopping at my house and talking the Lightning up. He talked about how Fun the class is. How hard the boat is to sail properly. How I was going to get my butt kicked in one. Well, before the words were out of his mouth, I was online searching for boats. I was committed. After the boat I planned to buy had a tree fall on it. I put a shout out on Facebook and this wonderful boat, kind of fell into my lap. I couldn't contain my excitement as I worked on replacing all of the old lines and fixed old bungee cords. I basically spent the next month figuring out the parts and pieces of the boat. Simple things, like how to put the mast up. Making all new mast blocks. Adding some extra purchase to things. You folks know the routine. Everyone has to put their own spin on a boat, and I am no different. Granted I still have never really sailed one. I was in for a great ride.

Some things I took from this class that did surprise me.  The starting lines are very civil compared to other classes. I only had one race that someone came in late and stole the hole that I had worked so hard on. Granted the starting lines were very square to the shift and had length for all. And it seems like, For the good of All, everyone picked their spot and went about their business. Very refreshing!  

Now on the other hand, I would see people tacking on other boats, for no reason other then, there is a boat there. I don't really understand that mindset, but ok.  To each, their own. Mark roundings are pretty smooth in this class. Everyone gives room. I didn't see anyone force it in on port. I only saw 1 really weird leeward mark rounding. But it was a wild one with 5 boats getting there at the same time. And of course ,different gybes. I don't think any of the 5 pushed the rules. Everyone played it out, took their lumps, and gave plenty of room for the next boat in line. Again, so refreshing! I was somewhere in the middle and had a horribly wide rounding. It was an unforced driver error. The other boats definitely took advantage.  Another great thing about this class I noticed was everyone seemed concerned with how I was enjoying the boat. When I had a breakdown, several boats offered to help. We had the mainsheet break in the 1st race of day 2. I basically just tied a bowline to the forward block and struggled around the course.  Due to being the only boat that still uses an internal mainsheet, I could not re-run it on the water. I did take apart the bridle/traveler blocks and used those to create a 3-1 mid-boom purchase. I tried putting it on the mainsheet swivel. But it started to bend the swivel to dangerous levels. So while going downwind, we re-tied it to the big waco 360 for the centerboard. That held perfectly without fear of ripping it out of the trunk.  Problem solved. I am not positive of this, but eliminating the bridle/traveler from the equation definitely made my sailing better. As those were our best races. It has me thinking of a split mainsheet and if it's been tried before?

I guess the take-aways I got from this regatta are that the class, from the top down, is Amazing. It's well run, and socially, just a friendly group. The boat has gears that I have yet to find. (I will work on that). It doesn't seem to matter how intensely you try to sail, there's some dude with zinc on his nose, and a floppy hat, kicking your butt. Also, where are the drink holders?

I know our little fleet is growing and the Gulf Coast has been slightly absent in the class. But WE are starting to get the ball rolling again. We expect our fleets to pull some boats out of mothballs. And we really hope some of us can join you at other events. Maybe even some of you will get one down to one of our regattas sometime soon - y'all are invited! 

Fair winds and great sailing,


SAVE THE DATE for 2025 and start getting your team and boat organized!

March 15-19, 2025 - Winter Championship, St Petersburg Yacht Club (4 days of racing)

March 20-22, 2025 - Deep South Regatta, Savannah Yacht Club (2 days of racing)

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