For most of the
million or more sailors in the U.S., the boat below, the Lightning, typifies
the many kinds of standard hulls known as class boats, whose fleets are the
backbone of the nation's sailing. A boat like the Lightning offers the average
yachtsman fast competition and safe fun in one tight package. Furthermore, it
is the perfect training vehicle—simple in rig, easy to sail, lively and
powerful in a breeze. In this two-part article Bill Cox of the Noroton ( Conn.)
Yacht Club, twice International Lightning Champion and a top racing skipper for
35 years, sets forth techniques of rigging and sailing that will be helpful to
any class boat owner, beginner or expert.
No. 1 family
More families race the 19-foot Lightning than any other type of sailboat. There
are more than 7,100 of these versatile craft, 3,500 of which are owned and
raced by members of the Lightning Class Association, one of the largest
organized groups of active racers anywhere. The outstanding features of the
Lightning, essentially unchanged since Olin Stephens first designed it in 1938,
are her stable, roomy hull (left), her well-balanced sail plan (above), which
includes a large spinnaker—not shown here but to be discussed in detail in Part
II. Moreover, she has a relatively low price—$2,200 to $2,600 ready to sail,
and there is a lively secondhand market from coast to coast. Finally, she has a
retractable centerboard, as opposed to a fixed keel, so she can easily be
hauled from place to place on a trailer or stored in the garage for the winter.
Best of all, she can be eased off a mud bank or sand bar if the skipper suffers
a lapse in navigation.
with Lightning or any other small boat of similar rig is to place mast in
approximate position for proper boat balance and to ensure that it will remain
straight under the strain of sailing. Recommended sequence of steps below
begins with tuning ashore, in which the jumper stays are set up. Next comes
tuning at mooring and tuning under way. Then come the refinements of
combination tuning, which is purely trial and error and may take considerable
time, since adjustment in one stay often means compensating adjustments in
lay mast so part under the jumper stays hangs free. Tighten jumpers until mast
mooring, start with all stays slack, then tighten upper shrouds (below left, in
blue) so mast has equal clearance on each side of deck opening. Next adjust
jibstay and backstay (below right, in blue). Begin by moving butt of mast and
setting jibstay so that mast just touches rear edge of deck opening when top of
mast has 10 to 15 inches of rake (backward lean). Now tighten backstay till
masthead begins bending back, then loosen backstay until mast is straight.
Place wooden wedges at foot of mast and in forward part of deck opening.
tuning removes any remaining bends in the mast and puts as much tension as
possible on jibstay so that jib will hold its proper shape. Use the backstay,
jumpers and the lower shrouds only (all in blue). There is no set sequence.
Start on one tack and straighten most obvious bends first, working around to
minor bends. Then go onto the opposite tack and do the same. Return to mooring,
use deck ladder to reach the jumpers for any needed adjustments in the upper
mast section. Repeat cycle until jibstay is taut and mast stands straight on
Tuning under way
begins with both lower shrouds (below, in blue) hanging slightly slack. On
starboard tack (left) sight up rear of mast, which will probably be curved left
or right. Pull inward on starboard lower shroud. If the mast straightens, the
lower shroud needs tightening. If bend increases, pull inward on upper
starboard shroud. If the mast now straightens, lower shroud needs loosening.
Use same procedure to tune mast on port tack (right) by adjusting lower port
shroud. Repeat entire procedure until mast is straight on both tacks.
resulting in forward or backward bowing of mast (in blue) will reduce
effectiveness of mainsail, designed for straight mast. With jibstay and upper
shrouds taut, point on mast at top of jibstay (blue dot) is held in fixed
position relative to hull. When masthead bends back, mast below blue dot bulges
forward. Correct by loosening backstay, tightening jumpers and lower shrouds.
When masthead bends forward, mast below the dot bulges backward. Backstay must
be tightened and lower shrouds, jumpers loosened. Never correct forward or
backward bend with jibstay or upper shrouds.
angle of heel