Lightning to strike Wrightsville waters

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For the 21st year, the Carolina Yacht Club will host the Lightning Southeastern District Championship, better known as the Lightning Regatta.

The sailing race is scheduled for June 7-8 at Wrightsville Beach. Five races will take place during the two-day event, which will serve as a championship tournament for lightning sailboat racers from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

The sailboats will launch in Banks Channel and sail through Masonboro Inlet before reaching ocean waters. The five races will all follow similar routes that will depend on wind and temperature conditions.

Unlike many sailing races, this event will follow strict, one-design rules. All boats must be the same design and only three participants are permitted in each sailboat.

“These races are all about teamwork,” said John Sawyer, member of the Carolina Yacht Club and an organizer of this event. “Every person has to be good at what they’re doing, it can’t be just all about the skipper. Everyone on board has to contribute.”

Sawyer explained the rules make each race more exciting for the competitors and spectators. Because every boat must be the same size, sailors can expect closer finishes.

“There are going to be 5-mile, 1-hour-long races that are decided by a few feet,” Sawyer said.

At press time, 19 boats had registered for the event, but organizers believe that by race time, between 20-25 boats will be signed up to compete. Sailboats from Wrightsville Beach should total eight to 10.

Many of the sailors are regulars at this competition and are familiar with this style of racing; however, this does not mean that spectators can expect 25 evenly matched boats.

“There is definitely a pecking order when it comes to the regatta,” Sawyer said. “There are going to be some former Olympic sailors, and some sailors who can’t match that skill. But there still will be good racing from top to bottom.”

The Lightning Regatta could provide some sailors with a spot in the North American Traveling Series Championship. Depending on their performance this weekend, and the turnout of other races across the country, Sawyer believes anywhere from three to five sailboats may clinch a berth in the National Championship in Wisconsin this July.

The final deadline to register is 9 p.m. Friday, June 6. An awards ceremony at the Carolina Yacht Club sound side gazebo will take place after the last race concludes Sunday.

 

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