PYC 2014 Lightning Yearbook Article Print E-mail
Written by Matt Warner   

Pontiac Yacht Club

Lightning Flee #54

Karl Aavik, Fleet Captain


2014 was another successful year for the Pontiac Yacht Club, located on Cass Lake in southeast Michigan and home to the largest Lightning fleet in the world.  We have enjoyed that distinction for many years but never rest on our laurels.  To create this legacy of success we have a well-tested recipe.  We start  with competitive racing twice a week (Sunday mornings/Wednesday evenings), pour in top competition including past National and Worlds top 5 finishers, mix in an incredibly well organized all-volunteer operation, and swizzle it all together with an idyllic setting and strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie.  It’s a perfect sailing martini.

I grew up sailing Thistles but had been away from one-design sailing for over 20 years.  A relocation to southeast Michigan brought me in contact with PYC.  I heard of “25 boats on the starting line” and thought “yeah, right.”  I assumed that was typical sailor’s embellishment (the wind was blowing at least 40 knots … the seas were at least 15 feet high … you get the picture). Less than a month later I was at the helm of a gently used Lightning and pleasantly surprised to see, yes, 25 other Lightnings on the starting line for a normal Wednesday night race.  20+ boats is the norm for our Wednesday evening series.

In 2014 PYC scheduled 80 regular series races, plus an additional 20 on our special regatta weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Club Championship).  Even with Mother Nature at times having her own plans we were able to get off 78 starts.  A tip of the hat goes to Geoff Nelson and Rick Dishaw who both sailed 50 or more of those races in 2014.

We had 39 different boats competing throughout the year.  Of those, sixteen different individuals won at least one race.  The competition is broad and well developed and there was plenty of sailing available for all in 2014.

Those collecting silver this year included: Wednesday Series Overall Winner Mark Allen, runner up John Garrison; Sunday Series Overall Winner Tom Klaban, runner up Karl Aavik; Club Championship Regatta Winner Tom Allen. Special regatta winners included: Nick Harris, Caleb Mathers (two young men who are up and coming hot shots) and Tom Klaban.  Most improved went to Mike Roualet, a perennial winner at PYC who nevertheless upped his game considerably in 2014.

PYC hosts the annual “Whitecap Regatta” the weekend after Labor Day and welcomed boats from across our district and beyond, including an international entry, David Sprague, who joined us from Toronto.  Against stiff competition, Ryan Flack, a PYC member whose young age belies his many years of involvement with PYC and Lightnings, took home the honors. Ryan, whom many of you may know from his active leadership role with Nickels Boat Works, is a tireless supporter of the Lightning class at PYC, across our district and beyond, and for his efforts was also awarded the PYC Sportsmanship Trophy.

There is an active junior sailing program and an adult sailing lessons program, both supported by a non-profit sailing foundation.  Our junior champion was Sam Monique, followed closely by Brandon Warner.  PYC also hosts a successful varsity high school sailing program for Detroit Country Day School, a nearby private high school.

Beyond our shores, the PYC fleet also supports the broader Lightning class.  We had 17 PYC boats travel to away regattas this year; PYC boats participated in every Michigan district regatta but one, plus the North Americans and several other “beyond our district” regattas such as the Nashville Bluenose and Charleston Wild Oyster.  PYC was well represented in the Michigan District Hi Point Championship, which combines finishes from all sanctioned Michigan district regattas, where Jim Allen took home fourth and was joined in the top ten by Ryan Flack and his brother Bobby Flack.

From the above narrative and the nearby photos, courtesy of Phil Matora, photographer par excellence, you can see that 2014 was a great year at PYC and it set yet another brick in the foundation on which rests this great Lightning fleet. We hope you can join us for the Whitecap Regatta in the fall.  And if you find yourself in southeast Michigan on any Wednesday evening or Sunday morning, we’d be happy to scare up a boat or a crew spot and let you enjoy our perfect sailing martini.


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