Wednesday, October 23, 2013

College Big Boat Regatta Runaway Success!

J/105 sailing college big boat regattaJ/44, J/109 and J/105 Fleets Enjoy Big Breeze!
(Larchmont, New York)- The Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) as it's officially known, run by the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club, had an epic regatta this year. Over 300 college sailors hopped aboard 54 borrowed offshore boats to make this year's IOR the largest collegiate regatta in North America. The fleet was made up of eleven J/105s, fifteen J/109s, five J/44s, and two 10-boat handicap divisions-- the 35 J/Teams on the line comprised 65% of the fleet with 216 sailors manning the boats (about 70% of the college sailors on the water!).

J/105 sailing at college big boat seriesAs a result of a stationary low, strong northeast winds blew for three days before the regatta as well as for the two days of racing, making conditions extreme – even for experienced Long Island Sound racers. After two races were sailed on Saturday in winds blowing from 22-30 with higher gusts, the race committee sent the dwindling fleet back to the harbor in hopes of more benign conditions the next day. But on Sunday the low pressure system still refused to budge and conditions remained the same.

J/109 rounding mark at college big boat seriesAfter a two-and-a-half hour harbor postponement, the RC called it quits and neither the owners of the borrowed boats nor the sailors thought it was a bad call. “It was a shame for the teams that came so far,” said Regatta Chair Adam Loory. Eleven teams came from the Midwest and three teams came from Canada. “Our committee had to err on the side of caution; if boats get broken or people get hurt, we won’t be able to pull together a regatta on this scale ever again. As it was, the City Island UK Sailmakers loft burned a lot of midnight oil to get sails back into one piece for Sunday. In the cases where sails were un-repairable, we found loaner sails to fill in.”

After two races, the standings were tight; three divisions were won by boats with two firsts and the other two divisions were won with scores of a first and a second. Picking an overall winner was impossible; therefore, the Paul Hoffman Trophy for the overall winner of the 2013 IOR went jointly to Georgetown and the College of Charleston.

College of Charleston team- winning J/105 class at college big boat regattaThe Charleston team sailed on Austin Fragomen’s J/105 WARLOCK. Third overall went to one of the three teams from Massachusetts Maritime sailing Rick Lyall’s STORM in the 15-boat J/109 fleet.

Coming the farthest were two teams from Europe, the result of a joint venture with the EDHEC Sailing Cup, which is the world’s largest intercollegiate regatta. The EDHEC Sailing Cup is staged every year in France by students of EDHEC, one of France’s most prestigious business schools; last year their regEDHEC French university sailing teamatta attracted over 1,500 sailors who raced on 180 boats. In an effort to get more foreign teams at the IOR and the EDHEC Sailing Cup, respectively, winning teams from each regatta will be given the opportunity to compete, cost free, at the regatta on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean. Georgetown was the very first winner of the EDHEC Challenge, which earned the team a free trip to the 46th EDHEC Sailing Cup in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, in April 2014.

Adam Loory, the Storm Trysail Club co-founder of the I.O.R. event, said that "we've been getting some great comments from both boat owners and collegiate competitors that sailed in this year's regatta."  Here are some of the below:

Tufts’ sailing coach Ken Legler who brought two teams said, “We didn’t get much sailing in but what we did get was pretty special.” Andrew Berdon, owner of the J/109 STRIDER, posted on his Facebook page, “Sailed with members of the Dalhousie University sailing team today. They drove 13 hours to get down here from Halifax, Nova Scotia and proceeded to kick butt taking a first and second in our races today. The wind was 'blowing dogs off chains', 22-30 knots from the northeast with higher gusts and huge, breaking waves. Thank you to the Storm Trysail Foundation and LYC for putting on my favorite regatta of the year.”

Adrija Navarro wrote, “I just wanted to thank you for matching the Princeton University Sailing Team up with Matt Breef (on Matt Baker’s J/109 RELIANT) for the IOR. The IOR is an incredible event, and we hope to come back again next year."

Chris Ercole, owner of the J/109 SWEET CAROLINE wrote, “Yes, it was a lot of fun. I had no idea the Ottawa team does not have a coach or even much of a sailing budget as they are not a varsity level team. Our helmsman never steered anything bigger than a 420 before, never mind anything with a wheel. I think we were all very happy with our performance. The kids were absolutely great and very appreciative for having use of the boat. They were very respectful of the boat and gear; nothing was lost or abused. Having Tom (Darling) aboard was great too as I’m still learning and don’t know the first thing about teaching kids how to sail.”

Each boat had the boat owner or his representative aboard as well as a second adult. The adults are encouraged to teach boat-speed, boat-handling and sail trim since much of big boat sailing is new to dinghy sailors as Chris Ercole noted above. Since the regatta is a stand-alone event and is not used to rank the teams, the regatta organizers encourage teaching during the regatta. The only line that is drawn covers tactics-- the college sailors call their own tactics since figuring out which way to go on the race course is universal to all sailboats.

David Doody, a coach on David Wilson’s J/109 BLANCHE, wrote, “Great job with the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta; it really is a terrific thing and you do an incredible job pulling it all off. Canceling racing on Sunday was the right decision for the event, which was clearly another huge success. We went out sailing for an hour after racing was abandoned without problem; we got the spinnaker up and they learned how to spell b-r-o-a-c-h. The weekend was a big learning experience for the six intrepid sailors of the team from William and Mary.”

Ron Weiss, an offshore coach at SUNY Maritime wrote, “I just wanted to drop a personal note about how grateful we are for the IOR. The SUNY Maritime guys had a blast and it was an important stepping-stone in their progress as a team. Again, thanks for everything you’re doing for the sport.” The SUNY team won the J/44 division on Dr. Norman Schulman’s CHARLIE V, which was an all service academy division. They beat Navy, Mass Maritime, Maine Maritime and Coast Guard.

The goal of the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club in running the IOR is to introduce dinghy sailors to the fun and teamwork of big boat racing, which is a new aspect of the sport to many dinghy sailors. It also gives college sailors with big boat skills a chance to compete in some of the best prepared boats around. Thanks to sponsors Rolex, Vineyard Vines, Caithness Energy, Safe Flight Instruments, Flintlock Construction, Dimension/Polyant Sailcloth, UK Sailmakers, Gill (foul weather gear), Heineken and Coke, this is a totally free event for the boat owners and college sailors.

Storm Trysail Club Commodore Nick Langone said, “I applaud the organizing team, led by Adam Loory and Butch Ulmer, for spending so much time organizing, giving direction, and finally executing one of the best, and well run regattas I’ve been associated with.”

Finally, a special thanks to Larchmont Yacht Club, the co-sponsor of the regatta. “There are very few, if any, clubs that can host an event this size, while not inconveniencing their members,” said John Fisher, Chairman of the Storm Trysail Foundation. Larchmont provided over 35 guest moorings and put on extra launch service for the regatta. They also ran their own Columbus Day regatta at the same time. Report contributed by Adam Loory.   For more Intercollegiate Offshore Race sailing information