Lightning Fleet


2024 Dixie District Championship Regatta & Doc Gilbert Potomac Cup Regatta Website

March 2024 Annual Meeting Notes and Documents

Archive of Fleet 50 Posts

Lightning Fleet 50:  A PRSA Fleet Sailing on the Potomac River Since 1943

Established in 1943, Fleet 50 is proud to carry on the tradition of the Lightning as the longest enduring, most competitive and fun one-design racing class in the Washington DC area. We are affiliated with the Potomac River Sailing Association and the International Lightning Class Association.

We currently have about 25 active and semi-active boats.  Our racing schedule runs from the beginning of April through the mid-November each year. The racing season includes an eight-week Sunday Spring and an eight-week Sunday Fall series. In addition we host the Doc Gilbert Potomac Cup in early May (our Dixie District Lightning Regatta) and participate in the PRSA Spring Regatta (Memorial Day weekend) and in the PRSA President’s Cup in September.  Many of our members also travel to Lightning regattas on the International Lightning Class Association regatta circuit.  No fewer than 5 and sometimes as many as 15 boats are out racing on any given Sunday, with many more on the water for our 2-day regattas. After the racing, skippers and crews hang around the grill and trade stories about starts, mark roundings, and other tall tales from the river.

Fleet 50 members display a wide range of sailing experience consisting of seasoned veteran Lightning sailors as well as several first time boat owners. The range of skill levels will challenge serious racers looking for good competition while providing fun competitive camaraderie in the middle and back of the fleet. The more experienced sailors are also always ready and willing to offer advice and instruction to newer sailors looking to improve. Our post race BBQs also have many beers, burgers, and hot dogs to go around.

The skippers in our Lightning Fleet 50 have vast experience buying used but ready-to-race Lightnings (recommended) to major restoration projects (if you are so inclined). They would love to help you buy a Lightning that fits your budget and interests.  If you are interested in Fleet 50, feel free to reach out to us (contact information at the bottom of this page).  You should also feel free to come down to the docks anytime we are scheduled to be out on the water. Someone will always be looking for a crew!

The Boat: The Best of Both Worlds – Family Sailing and World Class Racing

The Lightning is a 19-foot centerboard sloop designed by Sparkman & Stephens as an affordable family day sailing and racing boat. The Lightning Class is the longest operating and best-organized one-design sailing class in the world.  With more than 15,000 hulls built for 500 fleets worldwide, the Lightning has evolved into one of the most popular and competitive one-design racing classes in the world!

The hull features a hard chine and centerboard for stability, with flat bottom sections that promote planing. The simple rig makes it easy to sail but offers plenty of adjustment for sail shape fine-tuning of the mainsail, jib, and spinnaker.  The Lightning is easy to launch and light enough to trailer with ease. In the event of a capsize, she can be righted and sailed dry by her crew.

Normally, raced with a crew of three the boat has plenty of room in the cockpit for two couples or a family to day sail.  Whether racing or day sailing, the Lightning offers a rare combination of performance and stability!

Get Involved!

1) Join the Lightning Fleet 50 email list by clicking here for instructions on join our Fleet 50 Google Group.

2) Visit the listing of archives (link at top of page) to read reports from past races and events..

3) Email or call one of the fleet officers or fleet experts:

  • Fleet Captain: Frank Gallagher
  • Secretary: Lindsay Bach
  • Treasurer: Jeff Witten
  • Scorer: Nabeel Alsalam
  • Fleet Expert: Frank Gallagher, has bought and sold many Lightnings in his almost 50 years sailing them.
  • Fleet Expert: Bobby Astrove, wooden boat guru and head of the ILCA Classic Boat Division

4) Take a look at the calendar and come down to the marina around 9:30 on a Sunday Series day to meet our sailors and watch the crews set up their boats. Bring your sailing gear with you because one or more may be short a crew!