It’s an honor to serve as the Class President. Although I have been a member for a many years, and the Class Treasurer for three years, many of you may not know me so let me introduce myself and share a little background.
Actually, before posting anything about myself, I would be remiss if I did not first acknowledge the contributions to the Class by my predecessor. Todd served the Class admirably as President for the past two years. His steady hand on the helm kept the Class on the lifted tack throughout and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. You will be a hard act to follow, Todd.
As for me, I live in Devon, Pennsylvania, about twenty miles west of Philadelphia (think Valley Forge for you history buffs) with my wife, Nancy. I am an attorney by profession although I have essentially turned over the last of my professional obligations to other colleagues this year. I am still adjusting to my new freedom.
I grew up in Stratford, Connecticut on the shores of Long Island Sound. In 1960 my father announced that we were going to get a boat and I was excited by the prospect of taking my friends water skiing. Those expectations were immediately dashed by his further announcement that we would be getting a sailboat although none of us knew anything about sailing. A number of my parents’ friends owned Lightnings so my father bought Lightning number 4942 and we joined Fleet 6 at the Housatonic Boat Club. In those days, Fleet 6 routinely put a dozen boats on the line every weekend and every Wednesday night. We rarely missed a race and my life-long appreciation of the Class was initiated.
My father was a tinkerer and frequently came up with ideas to improve equipment or develop new fittings. The company he worked for was related to Racelite, a manufacturer of sailboat fittings. My father convinced Racelite to turn out prototypes of his ideas, some of which worked although many didn’t. Nevertheless, within a few years, much of the Racelite line included fittings or modifications that bore the imprint of my father’s ideas. As a result, Racelite agreed to buy us a boat to test their fittings.
We ordered a new Saybrook Lightning, number 8616. I first saw the boat on my 18th birthday when it was still under construction. I sailed that boat for many years and ultimately donated it to a motivational program for under-served youth in Philadelphia, 50 years to the day from the day I first saw it.
In the early 70’s, I moved to Philadelphia and joined the Riverton Yacht Club in Riverton, NJ, my current home club. Today I sail Lightning number 15310. Although I attend as many regattas as possible, truth be told after listening to all of the advice from our top sailors about what we should be doing on the race course, I think it’s actually more accurate to say I sail around the course rather than race around the course. Nevertheless, I’ll keep trying to absorb all of the tips and pointers that have come my way. Perhaps someday they will sink in.
Lightnings have clearly been a special part of my life and even if a trophy is not the end product of each regatta, the chance to renew friendships with the Lightning Family makes each regatta more than worthwhile. I look forward to working with as many of you as possible and making a positive contribution to our Class as its President.
Should any of you have any suggestions or want to pass along any comments, please feel free to contact me. In the interim, I wish you fair winds.
Photo: Left - Immediate Past President Todd Wake with new Class President Hugh Hutchison. Middle: Team Hutchison from the 2019 Master's North American Championship, Peter Jadrosich, Hugh Hutchison and Marc Venables. Bottom: Team Hutchison from the 2019 North American's: Hugh Hutchison, Cecile Steinriede and Marc Venables.