Why Sail a Lightning

There are a large number of single handed dinghies to choose from, so what makes the Lightning stand out? Before answering that we would encourage you first, to think about the kind of sailing you want to do and what you find enjoyable.

Allen have consistently sponsored our National Championships and their fittings are used extensively.

Although the Lightning is a good boat, it will not suit everyone. You need to think about this both on and off the water, handling the boat ashore needs to be apart of the decision making process, as well as performance and handling on the water.

By way of a quick review, for some of the classes available, and this is by no means a comprehensive list, the Laser is probably the most popular single hander. If you want big fleets, very competitive racing and a simple boat, the Laser might be a good choice. The Solo is another big fleet. It is a bigger and heavier boat, with a traditional stayed rig. There are lots of choices in terms of sails and rig set-ups, so high performance comes with lots of experimentation and tuning. Again the Solo provides a big and very competitive fleet.

The Streaker is another choice, again a traditional stayed set-up, and similar performance to a Lightning. Then there are two boats, the Supernova and the Phantom, which are good for heavier helms, 90Kg plus, or very hairy sailing.

Finally there are the new asymmetric single handers like the RS100 and the Devoti One, which are finely tuned racing machines and quite frankly are going to take a bit of handling, or the foiling Moth, which really does take some skill to make go. In between all these are boats like the OK, the Byte CII, the Comet and a good few others.

However, the most important thing is to pick a boat that suits you and what you want to do with it. Below are a few attributes of the Lightning that attract those of us who chose to sail this Class.

The Lightning is a competitive and fun, small single hander. It is simple to rig and sail, and performs well against most similar classes. The Class continues to thrive with a friendly and supportive Class Association.

The Lightning has some distinct advantages ashore, in terms of its rigging. It is uni-rigged meaning the mast has no stays, making it very quick to step. The Mast slots into a strengthen socket mounted in the foredeck, just drop it in and it’s ready to go, no rigging to set up, or messing about with shroud tensions.

That said, the mast has a proper luff track and halyard, so the sail can be dropped whilst afloat, even if that is just to drop the sail to tie up to a pontoon between races, much easier than having to step the mast and slide the sail off the mast because it has a sleeve.

The cockpit is wide and roomy, running almost the full length of the boat. The latest modification, which can be retro-fitted to any Lightning, removes the thwart and fits a pod for the main-sheet. Full length toestraps can be fitted both sides, making hiking very comfortable, even when well forward in the boat on a beat.

A Proper Centreboard:
Unusually for a small single hander, the Lightning has a centreboard, not a dagger. This is a godsend for launching and recovery on your own, and for creeping along in the shallows looking for that extra little bit of breeze. Unlike a dagger, the centreboard does not get in the way, when up, it is neatly stowed along the centreline of the cockpit, low down as well.

The Lightning is fully self-draining, so if you do go over, the boat drains through a small hole at the rear of the cockpit, no bailing, or paddling around in a cockpit full of water is necessary, the boat drains quickly and without fuss.

Sails and Controls:
There is a choice of sails and rig. Both a Dacron and Mylar sail are class legal and there is also a Dacron storm sail available for those really windy days. The sail is loose footed, again making it quick and simple to rig. The combination of sails and mast give a good weight range for helms, 60 to 90kgs and still remain competitive.

The boat has all control lines running out to the gunwales on both sides (kicker, downhaul and outhaul). The downhaul goes over the top of the boom and hooks into the eyelet on the tack of the sail, and the outhaul uses another hook to attach to the eyelet at the clew of the sail, making the boat really quick to rig. You really can be on the water in five to ten minutes. Step the mast (no shrouds to worry about). Fit the boom, hoist the sail, clip on the outhaul and downhaul hooks, clip on the kicker hook, fit the rudder and your ready to go, simple as that.

Need More Info?
John Claridge, the current builder, has a range of modifications and options available that update the boat, providing a modern and up to date feel to the class, see contacts page to chat with John, via phone or e-mail

There’s lots of information here on the site, but if you still have questions then just drop us a line. See the contacts page for details. There is always someone who can help.