Story and Photos by Art Petrosemolo
Red Bank, NJ – April 26 — Justin Coplan, just 27, sailing out of the Susquehanna (PA) Yacht Club showed why he is one of the top Lightning Class sailors in the United States with a win in the Monmouth Boat Club’s 54th renewal of the Long John Regatta.
Coplan, sailing Lightnings for less than a decade, finished second in the 2013 World Championships and will represent the United States in the 2015 PanAm games in Toronto in July. His Long John title was his first in five attempts.
Sailing with Daniel Prior and Caroline Patton, Coplan had two second place finishes and a fifth in Saturday races, working his way from the middle of the fleet to the front in races two and three. He added a seventh and a sixth in fluky winds Sunday for a five-race total of 22 points.
“Races on the Navesink are never easy,” Coplan said, “and I had to work my way from the middle of the fleet in several races which isn’t fun but possible with the river’s shifting wind conditions.” Coplan jumped from unknown to a skipper to be reckoned with at age 20, when he won the Lightning Metro NY championship at MBC in 2008.
Three time North American champion and 2010 Long John winner Allan Terhune, Annapolis, MD, was LJ runner-up with 26 points and finishes of 1-4-15-3-3 for 26 points. MBC’s Jack Huntsman, Red Bank, a five time Long John champion, was third with finishes of 3-8-2-5-13 and 31 points. In contention late in the final race with a chance to challenge Coplan, Huntsman’s boat, along with half the fleet, got caught on the wrong side of a major wind shift and dropped from the leaders to 13th at the finish.
Two former champions Keith Taboada, Metedeconk River, Yacht Club, and Bill Fastiggi, Malletts Bay (VT) Boat Club, finished fourth and fifth with 33 and 35 points respectively.
MBC’s Cole Barney, Red Bank, was 10th followed by Club members Ted Duffy, 14; Dave Watts, 15; Pat Corr, 20; and George Harrington, 23.
The Long John Regatta, sailed for the last half century on the final weekend in April brings many of the East Coast’s top Lightning sailors to Red Bank to test their skills against the uncertain and changing early spring winds on the Navesink River. The 2015 event saw winds of 10-15 mph with slight Navesink chop from the Northwest on Saturday and East on Sunday. It swirled around and changed direction several times providing a test for competitors. Principal Race Officers and former MBC Commodore Denis Farley set long windward-leeward courses sending the 24 boats twice around the course in each of the five races.
The 19-foot centerboard Lightning sloop is a Sparkman & Stephens design and is sailed competitively in 13 countries and is one of the largest of all one-design classes. More than 15000 have been built. The boat carries 177 square feet of sail and flies a 300 square foot spinnaker and provides excitement for those sailing or watching them sail. The boat is usually sailed by a skipper and two crew and has been sailed by the best sailors at the historic Monmouth Boat Club for decades.
For complete results, visit http://lightningclass.org/racing/results/2015/longjohn.asp