Friday, July 10, 2009

Wooden Tom Allen Lightning

Two weeks ago, at the SSA Tuesday night series, I was bringing up the rear of the Laser fleet in my wooden Classic Moth when I crossed paths with a Lightning racing in the two sailed fleet. I crossed astern going upwind as the Lightning was running downwind under spinnaker. Two things caught my eye; a young toddler was perched on the back deck, happily pulling the spinnaker guy back and forth despite the admonitions of a crew intently trying to keep the spinnaker flying. Secondly, the Lightning was an old woodie, usually an indication that the crew are rank beginners who found a great deal, bought the old warhorse and then decided to try racing it.

Back on shore, I met two of the Lightning crew (woodies seem to gravitate to woodies) and they immediately put to bed my initial misperceptions. They were knowledgable and enthusiastic and actually searched out the old wooden Tom Allen Lightning (my guess, circa 1960's). They are convinced a wooden Lightning can be as fast as the current glass models and so, here they are, men on a mission.

The sight of the wooden Tom Allen takes me back to the 60's, to my later teenage years in Youngstown Ohio. Of all things, in this steel town in middle America, I joined a Sea Scout troop with Dr. Charles Maltbie as "scout master". Maltbie was a cracker jack Lightning sailor, won the Districts and had finished top ten in the Nationals. He owned a beautiful yellow wooden Tom Allen Lightning and as Sea Scouts we spent a fair number of weekends racing Lightnings out of Pymatuning Yacht Club. Winter time, Dr. Maltbie, a very good woodworker, had us building a Blue Jay which we subsequently launched and sailed (If I remember correctly, it was also painted yellow).

Back then, Pymatuning Yacht Club, was THE YACHT CLUB in NorthEast Ohio/Penn region. The Lightning and Thistle fleets were big and competitive and PYC had the reputation of where the most serious and best racers sailed. It was also a mobile home park. There was enough property that members set up small mobile homes and the yacht club became a summer weekend retreat. For young teenagers, it was like summer camp, except your parents were not too far away. For fellow "Sea Scouters", Buzz Brown, Klein, Stuart, Trevor ..... great memories.

Over at the APS blog, James just attended the 2009 Independence Day Regatta at Pymatuning YC and writes about it here.


Vintage Mothist said...

Hey I was just lookin' at old wooden Lightin's on the web. Got 3 sailable 420s on the river at YC's youth camp. 5 kids I'm passing on all the knowledge that the Moth bunch has blessed me with thru the years. They are looking good. Maybe get a few in Moths if I'm lucky. Get off that laser, the jellcoat might rub off on you.

Tweezerman said...

10 Classics at Chestertown. Mike P won Gen2, George A won Gen1. Report later.