Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Storm-tossed STC “College Big Boat Regatta”!

J/133 sailing college big boat regatta (Larchmont, NY)- Over 420 college sailors from the United States, Canada and France raced on 45 owner-coached keelboats over Columbus Day Weekend in the Storm Trysail Foundation’s Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) sailed on western Long Island Sound. A team from the United States Naval Academy (Navy) sailing the J/44 MAXINE was the overall winner after winning four races and finishing second in one race in the competitive six-boat J/44 class comprised of all service academies.

Up until the Tuesday before the 2016 IOR, the forecast for Hurricane Matthew had Western Long Island Sound right in the center of the National Weather Service’s forecast cone. As safety comes before other considerations, the organizing authorities feared the same outcome as at last year’s IOR. In 2015, due to the threat from Hurricane Joaquin the week before the IOR, other regattas were cancelled and many boat owners had hauled their boats or moved them to safer locations. This year, the weather gods treated the IOR more favorably and in a 12-hour period, on the Wednesday morning before the IOR, the forecast had completely changed, sparing a possible hit to the Northeastern United States. The IOR was back in full swing.

J/44 winners- US Naval AcademeyAfter the hurricane potential, it was ironic that the forecasts for the first day were for 2-4 knots of wind, even as late as the evening before. Once again, the weather gods did their own thing and offered up an 8-12 knot northeasterly for a great day of three races with a relatively flat sea state and moderate temperatures. The Navy team on J/44 MAXINE had three bullets on Saturday.

MAXINE’s skipper Midshipman Matthew Robbins said, “We knew that to win the overall would require us to win almost every race. We sailed with teammates filling in for three of our regular crew members, which is a huge testament to the depth and talent within our program.”

Jahn Tihansky, the Director of the Navy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team said, “To watch them handle their boat across the range of conditions from getting off the start to shifting gears upwind and turning the corners efficiently, was amazing. They were also able to rebound from some misfortunes and quickly got back into winning form."

The second day of racing was sailed in an increasing northerly, which ironically was an outer band from the now dissipating Hurricane Matthew. The breeze was in the mid teens with some gusts to over 20 knots. The race committee, led by Storm Trysail Club Principal Race Officer Charles “Butch” Ulmer, skillfully got in two races in stronger breeze and wave heights before the conditions became marginal.

J/105 Good Trade sailing college big boatThe Storm Trysail Foundation (STF), with organizing authorities Larchmont Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club, presented the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, and this year it was again led by Regatta Chairman Barry Gold. “The IOR provides an opportunity for collegiate sailors to come together in a unique forum that is both highly competitive yet educational,” said Gold.  “It also allows some college dinghy sailors with no big boat experience to be introduced to an entirely new aspect of racing.”

An example is Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan. This was their first time in the IOR. Of the 10 sailors that comprised their team, five were experienced big boat sailors, and five had little to no experience on big boats. Nick Zomer, Commodore of GVSU Club Sailing said, “The GVSU Sailing Team is immensely grateful for an experience of a lifetime for many of our sailors. Fifty percent of our team had little to no big boat racing experience, nearly everyone on the team had never sailed in salt water, yet we were still able to place and hold our own in the regatta. Many a team member is now hooked on big boat sailing for life, especially in regards to the thrill, the adventure, the strategy, the camaraderie…all thanks to the IOR.”

J/133 Antidote- winning STC IOR teamThe 45-boat fleet was divided into five classes: IRC 38’-43’ (9 boats), J/44 (six), J/109 (eight), PHRF (12), and J/105 (10).

In the IRC Class, it was the University of Michigan sailing Ron Richman’s J/133 ANTIDOTE that easily won their class, posting a consistent record of 2-3-2-1-2 for 10 pts total. In fifth place was the Stevens Institute of Technology sailing Chris Hall’s J/122 WILY SILVER FOX.

In the 12-boat PHRF division, it was Tulane University’s team sailing Doug McKeige’s J/88 JAZZ that won their class on a tie-breaker, posting a 1-1-4-2-2 record for 10 pts total.

J/105 sailing Storm Trysail college big boatIn the one-design world, it was a very closely fought series for the top of the leaderboard in the J/105s.  After the first day, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy sailed Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault’s GOOD TRADE to the top of the standings by one point over the University of South Florida sailing Gary Myer’s MAGIC.  On Sunday, that battle continued with USF winning both races, capitalizing on tactical & boat-handling issues made by the Mass Maritime crew.  As a result, USF won by one point, with Mass Maritime in second and taking third place was the US Naval Academy sailing Za Jelliffe’s ARETE.  The rest of the top five included George Washington University sailing Josh Burack’s PEREGRINA in 4th and Miami University of Ohio sailing Dan Herron’s LIQUID COURAGE in 5th place.

J/109 fleet sailing Storm Trysail college IOR regattaMcGill University (Montreal, Canada) won in the J/109 class sailing MORNING GLORY with four firsts, and a fourth. In second place was the team from ENSEIRB-MATMECA sailing on J/109 STRATEGERY. The team from ENSEIRB-MATMECA, in Bordeaux, France, earned the right to compete in the IOR as the winners of the 48th EDHEC Sailing Cup raced last April in Roscoff, France; their team won an all-expense-paid (except for air fare) trip to the IOR, thanks to the joint venture between STF and EDHEC Sailing Cup. Third and fourth were determined by a tie-breaker on 19 pts each between Bates College sailing Bob Schwartz’s NORDLYS and University of Rhode Island sailing Jonathan Rechtshaffer’s EMOTICON.  Bates took the tie-break over URI.  Taking fifth place was Syracuse University sailing David Frizell’s CEOL NA MARA.

J/44 fleet sailing Storm Trysail IOR regattaThe J/44 class literally saw a total eclipse by the US Naval Academy’s team on Bill Ketcham’s famously fast blue boat- MAXINE.  Five bullets gave them a 6 pts total score and the 2016 STC IOR Overall Champion award for the weekend.  A distant second was the US Coast Guard Academy’s GLORY with 10 pts, third was Maine Maritime Academy sailing Len Sitar’s VAMP, fourth was Mass Maritime’s bright red SPIRIT, and fifth was SUNY Maritime College sailing Norm Schulman’s CHARLIE V.

The EDHEC Sailing Cup is the world’s largest college sailing regatta that draws over 1,500 sailors and 180 boats, and the joint venture with the STF is designed to bring the top college sailors in the world together. As a result of being the overall winner of the IOR, the J/44 team from Navy has won an all-expense-paid (except for air fare) trip to the 49th EDHEC Sailing to be sailed from March 31 – April 8, 2017 in France. All U.S. collegiate teams are welcome.

Thanks to sponsors Rolex, Vineyard Vines, Safe Flight Instruments, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance, Flintlock Construction, Dimension/Polyant Sailcloth, UK Sailmakers, Gill, Craft Brewing Co., Coca Cola, and, there is no entry fee, and meals are provided for the boat owners and college sailors.  Larchmont Yacht Club’s Commodore, Tim Porter, again hosted and graciously welcomed all of the competitors to the IOR.

The Storm Trysail Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to supporting the education of sailors, junior safety at sea, and intercollegiate big boat racing. STF educates young sailors as they bridge the gap between learning to sail and becoming accomplished blue water seamen through a national program of events, including junior safety at sea seminars and intercollegiate big boat racing.  Sailing photo credits- Howie McMichael/ McMichaels Yachts.  For more Storm Trysail IOR Regatta sailing information