Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta: College dinghy sailors get their turn on big boats

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Just when it seemed the annual Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta couldn’t get any bigger, it breezed into Larchmont Yacht Club on Columbus Day Weekend to increase its participants from last year’s count of 235 college sailors to a whopping 318 and its borrowed-boat fleet from 31 to 36. In fact, the regatta has grown so much, with 29 different colleges and universities competing this year, that long-time host Larchmont Yacht Club officially joined forces with the event’s organizer, the Storm Trysail Club (STC), to run what has become the largest college sailing regatta in the country.

And bigger definitely meant better when the owners again sailed on board the borrowed boats as coaches.  Not only did they help introduce college sailors to the challenges and teamwork of big boat racing but also they had a good deal of fun themselves. Eric Irwin of the J/105 Dark ‘N Stormy said, “Thanks for the opportunity and a very rewarding experience. I walked away with much more knowledge of what it takes for our boat to do well. We will try to include the event in next year’s schedule.” This was the first year Dark ‘N Stormy participated, and the team from Cornell that sailed on the boat won the 11-boat J/105 class. 

Another first-time owner summarized, “I had a great time; I liked all the kids on my team. There were some good sailors, but they were all skippers and had never raced together as a team.” His team did not do so well, but that is all part of the learning experience. Big boats are not Lasers; crews need to come together as a team.

The crews also enjoyed themselves. Jesse Fielding, a University of Rhode Island Sailing Team member said, “The opportunity for college sailors to experience a different perspective on the sport is invaluable.  The responsibility of looking after a boat, a crew and an owner are skills that lifelong sailors need to have.  It is inspiring to know that the regatta is growing every year. And we are already looking forward to coming back next year.” 

Fielding was one of two URI team members who sailed the 2008 TransPac Race as part of Roy Disney’s Morning Light campaign (which spawned the recently released Disney movie of the same name).  He and fellow Morning Light sailor Robbie Kane joined additional URI team members on Richard du Moulin’s Express 37 Lora Ann

Du Moulin was very impressed by the team’s leadership and sailing skills. “I gave them some tips on how to sail upwind faster, but I sat back and took lessons watching them sail my asymmetrical rig downwind,” he said.  “The Morning Light experience gave these kids incredible downwind steering technique, which is why we won four out of five races.” 

Johnson and Wales University has been sailing in the event for over five years on Bob Behringer’s Express 37 Draco. After the regatta, the team’s coach Alan Penney wrote, “Another well run event! Thank you very much for all your hard work putting this event together for all the collegiate sailors. It’s hard to believe, but each year this event gets better. The JWU students all had a great time, thank you!” 

The boats were divided into four one-design classes and one PHRF division. The largest division was the tight PHRF class that had 12 boats rating between 72 and 87, of which 8 boats rated 72. The second largest class was the 11-boat J/105 class. The five class winners were: The United States Coast Guard Academy in the J/44 class; Georgetown University in the J/122 class; Massachusetts Maritime in the J/109 class; University of Rhode Island in the PHRF class, and Cornell in the J/105 class. 

The overall winner (based on the best winning percentage) of the five-race regatta was Mass. Maritime, sailing Rick Lyall’s J/109 Storm. Mass. Maritime is the first winner of the Paul Hoffmann Trophy, a perpetual trophy that was donated this year by the family of Paul Hoffmann, Jr., in memory of Paul’s father, a past Commodore of the STC and a long-time member of the Larchmont Yacht Club. Lyall was the first-time winner of the Edward du Moulin Trophy, another new perpetual that is awarded to the winning boat’s owner. Richard du Moulin donated the trophy in memory of his father, a long-time STC member and a founding member of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. 

The race management, headed by Race Committee PRO Butch Ulmer, could have been used as a clinic on how to run the perfect multi-class regatta. Five races were sailed over two days in shifty light easterlies that died as the days went on. All the courses were windward-leeward twice around and the windward mark was moved each race for the second beat because of the shifty breeze. Frequently, there were classes starting to the left of the committee boat as others were finishing on the right of the boat. Getting the races off quickly was the key to completing three races on Sunday, because the wind shut off just as the last race was finishing. 

Schools that participated in the 2008 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta were: American, Army, Bates, Bowdoin, Coast Guard, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Drexel, Fordham, Gerogetown, Hamilton, Johnson & Wales, Mass. Maritime, Miami of Ohio, Michigan, Middlebury, New York Maritime, Navy, Northeastern, Old Dominion, St. Mary’s, Tufts, Webb Institute, Western Michigan, University of Mass. Boston, University of Rhode Island, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, and Williams.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 October 2008 )