Above photo: (L to R) Steffenson, Andersson & Holton compete at the 2014 Lightning North American Championship in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Skipper Doug Steffenson, a WHC/SSYC member, and his crew, Brandon Holton and Jonas Andersson, will participate both in the Lightning 2019 European Championship and the Lightning 2019 World Championship regattas being held near Helsinki, Finland, from June 8 through June 17. As many as 65 teams from the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, and Africa are expected to attend the nearly two week event. Steffenson and his crew qualified to sail in Finland by placing high enough in the 2018 Lightning North American Championship regatta in San Diego, California, last July.
“Usually, we’ll tow the boat to weekend regattas in Wisconsin and Michigan. Since it’s just 19 feet long, this time we’ll be putting the boat, it’s trailer, most of our sailing gear, and its 26 foot mast into a shipping container in mid-April for the trip across the Atlantic.” Steffenson said. “After the two regattas in June, we’ll pack it all back in the container for the return trip home. We’re expecting to have the boat back home in Wilmette Harbor by August.”
Their Lightning class sailboat, named Hobbes after the famous comic strip tiger, is raced with a crew of three. It is a capable racing boat and comfortable day sailor. In addition to its World Championship regattas, Lightnings also are raced in the Pan American games, continental championships, and local regattas across the globe.
Steffenson and Holton reached out to Andersson in February to rejoin their team after their 2018 North Americans crew, Alex Lulewicz, stepped off the boat due to a work conflict during the upcoming June regattas in Finland. “We’re so excited to be sailing with Jonas again. We were a regular crew for many seasons before he
left for school in Sweden about four years ago.” Steffenson said. “One important part of sailing is to enjoy the people you sail with since you’re on the water all day with them. We all will work hard to shake off the rust and be ready to sail on the Gulf of Finland.”
Both Steffenson and Holton grew up sailing Lightnings on the Mississippi River at Davenport, Iowa. “I moved to the Chicago area in 1988 and hadn’t heard from Brandon for a few years. He reached out to me about 10 years ago to see if I needed crew for my Lightning. We’ve been racing together ever since.” Steffenson said. “We’ve always talked about trying to qualify for a Lightning World Championship. It takes a good deal of planning, effort, and luck to make it this far. We’re very proud to be a part of the American contingent that will be racing in Helsinki. Not bad for a couple of kids from Iowa.”
These “kids”, and their Swedish-American crew-mate, will be taking on an international cast of sailors that includes many past World and national champions, Pan Am Games medal winners, and a past two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. “The regatta fleet will be filled with amazing sailors from across the globe.” Steffenson said. “Some are boat builders, some are sailmakers, and others are major figures in the sailing industry. These men and women devote so much more time to sailing and racing when compared to our team. The level of competition in Finland will be top notch.”
Steffenson admitted his crew is a long-shot to place well in the upcoming World Championship regatta. “We’ll do our best during the races and hope to find our way to the top of the fleet. But, no matter how we finish, we’ll be happy and honored to be counted among the top Lightning sailors in the world. A regatta like this will help us polish our racing skills and sail in a unique part of the world. We’re also looking forward to spending time with other sailors from all over the globe.”
2012 Lighthouse Regatta at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
(L to R) Lulewicz, Holton & Steffenson next to Hobbes at the 2018 Lightning North American Championship in San Diego, California.