They are both great daysailers. Pick the one that suits your fancy. Both have v. good initial & ultimate stability. You won't notice the chine much. The Highlander will be substantially faster in light air, but like its cousin the Thistle, it will become an unholy terror as the breeze picks up. Three people can manage it, but you'd want a deep reef in the mainsail if shorthanded.
By contrast, I've never sailed a dinghy as good at shifting gears as the Lightning -- IF you are willing to pull the right strings. A fully-rigged Lightning has more sail-shaping and depowering options than almost any boat that size. That allows you to optimize the boat for a wide range of crew weights, crew abilities, and wind speeds. If you know what you are doing & are willing to live with the spaghetti.
Both these boats can be a struggle to right if they go all the way over. Easier than the Thistle, but still. Standing one back up takes some beef.
02-01-2013 08:19 PM
Mid-West, Highlander vs Lightning
Is there anyone out there who has sailed (or crewed on) both Lightning and Highlander class boats? I am looking for an inexpensive boat of either class for day sailing and have found several possibilities. I crewed on Lightnings many years ago but have never seen a Highlander under sail. I would like some first-hand information on how these two boats compare. Hard vs rounded chine and sail area to displacement ratio are two particular interests. How do these effect the sailing characteristics of the boats? What else sets them apart? Since I will not race it, the number of similar boats nearby is not important.