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Boat Grant Program

2014 Lightning Boat Grant Skipper – Ben Spector
Crew - Jeff Aschieris and Sam Stokes

Ben Spector and his team of Jeff Aschieris and Sam Stokes are from Charleston, South Carolina, and will be sailing with the Charleston fleet. Ben is a recent graduate from the College of Charleston. He sailed on the College of Charleston sailing team for four years and teamed up with both Jeff and Sam to win two College Sailing National Championships. Ben was named a 2012 ICSA College Sailing All-American. Their mentor will be veteran Lightning sailor Lenny Krawcheck.

Ben Specter       

Jeff Aschieris

         Sam Stokes

December 2014:


We would like to thank the International Lightning Class for being selected for the Boat Grant Program. Over the past months we have learned an incredible amount about sailing the boat and have seen just how competitive Lightning class is at the moment. We are now approaching the end of our time as “the boat grant guys” and are already making plans to continue our efforts in the class. Below are a few of things we will take away from our experience in the program. We learned the value effective communication, the importance of having generous mentors, and also about the camaraderie within a highly talented fleet.


Having stepped out of collegiate dinghies and away from the organization of a varsity program into the Lightning, our team soon found ourselves negotiating work and graduate school schedules to line-up practices and event logistics. We began with a master calendar that was tweaked and altered until we felt we struck a balance between adequate practice time and not over-stepping our welcome at yacht clubs in the area. With our plans in place we leaned heavily on our mentors in the class to help us get up to speed with the fleet.


We would be remiss if we did not mention the efforts of Chris and Terry Hamilton, Greg and Jo Ann Fisher, Lenny Krawcheck, Mitch Hall, and Laura Jeffers who were instrumental in making sure our boat was up and running and that any rigging or tuning issues were not overlooked. We are so grateful for these few and so many more who really took great care of us over the summer. Chris and his crews took time to two-boat test with us after work on many evenings. Greg and Jo Ann took lots of time away from their own practice to chase us around looking at our mast and Jo Ann who hopped in our boat to show us how to better trim the jib and fine tune our boat handling.


Above all else that we experienced with the Boat Grant, we learned just how much fun the Lightning fleet has! The teams race hard and are serious on the water, but they are just as serious about cracking smiles and beverages once the racing is over and it’s time to share the day’s stories. There was no greater pleasure than conversing with former World champions, North American champions, and Olympians while waiting out a wind delay, or having a few bratwursts at the Sheboygan Yacht Club. The Lightning Class treats it’s members, whether blue fleet or yellow fleet, with equal respect and we were so impressed by how many members approached our boat daily at the North Americans simply to lend a hand or offer advice to us. We truly look forward to giving back to the class and guiding future boat grant recipients. Again we thank everyone who has had an impact on us over the summer and we cannot wait to join the rest of the Team USA at the 2015 World Championships.


Many Thanks,

Ben Spector, Jeff Aschieris, and Sam Stokes

“White Lightning” USA 15387

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