Lightning (dinghy)


The Lightning is an American sailing dinghy that was designed by Olin Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens, as a one-design racer and first built in 1938.[1][2][3]

DesignerOlin Stephens
LocationUnited States
No. built15,550
Builder(s)Clark Boat Company
Lippincott Boat Works
Nickels Boat Works
Allen Boat Company
Jack A. Helms Co.
J.J. Taylor and Sons
Lockley Newport Boats
Skaneateles Boat & Canoe
Mobjack Manufacturing
Siddons & Sindle
Loftland Sail-craft
Eichenlaub Boat
WindRider LLC
RoleOne-design racer
Boat weight700 lb (318 kg)
Draft4.95 ft (1.51 m) with centerboard down
Constructionwood or fiberglass
LOA19.00 ft (5.79 m)
LWL15.25 ft (4.65 m)
Beam6.50 ft (1.98 m)
Hull appendages
Keel/board typecenterboard
Rudder(s)transom-mounted rudder
Rig typeBermuda rig
I foretriangle height20.00 ft (6.10 m)
J foretriangle base6.91 ft (2.11 m)
P mainsail luff24.00 ft (7.32 m)
E mainsail foot10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Sailplanfractional rigged sloop
Mainsail area120.00 sq ft (11.148 m2)
Jib/genoa area69.10 sq ft (6.420 m2)
Spinnaker area300 sq ft (28 m2)
Total sail area189.10 sq ft (17.568 m2)

An accepted World Sailing class, the boat is one of the most popular one-design sailing classes in the United States and is also raced in several other countries.[1][3]

The design was developed into a smaller boat, as a trainer for the Lightning, the Blue Jay in 1947.[4]


The design has been built by a large number of manufacturers in the United States and also in Canada. There have been 15,550 boats completed and it remains in production by the Allen Boat Company.[1][5][6]

In the past it has been built in the US by the Clark Boat Company, Lippincott Boat Works, Nickels Boat Works, Jack A. Helms Co., Lockley Newport Boats, Skaneateles Boat & Canoe, Mobjack Manufacturing, Siddons & Sindle, Loftland Sail-craft, the Eichenlaub Boat Co and WindRider LLC. It was also built in Canada by J.J. Taylor and Sons Ltd.[1]

Boats have been delivered complete, sold as kits for amateur construction and also amateur-built from plans.[3]



The Lightning is a recreational sailboat, initially built with wooden plank construction and, since the early 1960s, of fiberglass with wood trim. It has a fractional sloop rig with wooden or aluminum spars. The rig employs a backstay, anchored off center, so as to not impede the tiller. If equipped with a wooden mast it has a jumper stay from the mast head to the spreaders. The hull has a foredeck, with a "V" shaped coaming, a raked stem, an angled transom, a transom-hung rudder controlled by a tiller and a retractable centerboard. It displaces 700 lb (318 kg) and carries a class-prescribed maximum of 130 lb (59 kg) in centerboard weight.[1][3]

The boat has a draft of 4.95 ft (1.51 m) with the centerboard extended and 5 in (13 cm) with it retracted, allowing beaching or ground transportation on a trailer.[1]

For sailing the design is equipped with a 300 sq ft (28 m2) spinnaker. Mainsail and jib windows are optional for improved visibility and safety.[3]

The design has a Portsmouth Yardstick racing average handicap of 88.4[3] and is normally raced with a crew of three sailors, although it can accommodate six adults.[7][8]

Operational historyEdit

The boat has an active class club that regulates the design and organizes races, the International Lightning Class Association.[9] By 1994 there were more than 460 racing fleets in Canada, Europe, South America and the United States.[3]

In a 1994 review Richard Sherwood noted that the design has good freeboard and stability.[3]


See alsoEdit

Related development


  1. ^ a b c d e f McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Lightning sailboat". Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  2. ^ McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Sparkman & Stephens". Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Sherwood, Richard M.: A Field Guide to Sailboats of North America, Second Edition, pages 102-103. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. ISBN 0-395-65239-1
  4. ^ McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Blue Jay sailboat". Archived from the original on 8 December 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  5. ^ WindRider LLC. "Lightning". Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  6. ^ Allen Boat Company. "Allen Boat Company". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  7. ^ Lightning Class Association, Yearbook 1941
  8. ^ "About Lightning - International Lightning Class Association".
  9. ^ McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Lightning Class (Int)". Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.

External linksEdit

  • Allen Boat Company official website
  • Windrider official Lightning archives on