Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta : Dinghy sailors try big boats on for size

Sunday, 14 October 2012


A record 425 college sailors from 38 schools racing 45 borrowed boats came together over Columbus Day weekend (October 6-7) for the 2012 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) hosted by the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club. With so many college sailors participating, the event has become the world’s largest college sailing regatta. Schools traveled from Canada, the Midwest, New England and the mid Atlantic states, with the University of Wisconsin Madison travelling the farthest. 

The regatta introduces college sailors, most of whom sail dinghies, to the dynamics of big boat racing.  This regatta also gives college sailors who already have big boat experience a chance to take charge of some very fast and evenly matched offshore boats. The fleet racing boats were divided into five divisions: J/105s (10 boats), J/109s (eight boats), J/44s (five boats), a PHRF class (10 boats) and an IRC class (10 boats). The IRC class, stocked with additional leading edge boats, included four Swan 42s, a King 40, a Farr 400 and an assortment of J/Boats ranging from a J/133 to a J/111.

For the first time, the regatta had a Match Racing division on a separate circle with on-the-water umpires. Four teams raced on two 52-foot match racing machines lent by Brewer Yacht Yards. The boats were built in the early 1990s by Dennis Conner when he was preparing for the first America’s Cup defense in Cup Class monohulls. Teams from SUNY Maritime, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Tufts and the U.S. Naval Academy sailed an eight-race double round robin followed by a best-of-three finals. Tufts won the round robins, and Navy won the finals 2-0. The Navy team was the first winner of the Commodore James D. Bishop Trophy.

“Seeing the teams improve through the weekend was truly impressive,” said match racing PRO Dick Neville. “I don’t think any of them had any experience in match racing, particularly in big boats. They handled the boats really well.” According to Race Committee Chair Charles “Butch” Ulmer, “Since our first experience with match racing went so well, we intend to invite more teams to participate and to enlarge this part of the IOR next year.” With match racing a new discipline in college racing, match racing big boats is a great way for schools to merge their dinghy and offshore sailors into one team for an event.

On the fleet racing circle, five races were sailed. Navy won the IRC division sailing Jan Smeets’ J/133 Bacchanal; Maine Maritime won the J/44 division sailing Jim Bishop’s Gold Digger (after coming out on top of a three-way tie); Massachusetts Maritime won the J/109 division sailing Adrian Begley’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen; Drexel won the PHRF division sailing Rich duMoulin’s Express 37 Lora Ann; and Bowdoin won the J/105 division sailing Carl Olsson’s Morning Glory.

A fresh 15-20 knot breeze on the first day created some great photo moments as boats rolled out or had problems getting spinnakers down. For the most part, the students handled the boats well. On the second day, the race committee was lucky to get two races in before the wind faded to zero. For the IRC division, the second beat of the second race turned into a run as the wind shifted from the north to the southeast, prompting the race committee to shorten or abandon for certain classes.

The U.S. Naval Academy team, sailing Bacchanal, received the Paul Hoffmann Trophy as the overall winner of the regatta. The Ed duMoulin Trophy was presented to Bacchanal’s owner, former Larchmont Yacht Club Commodore Jan Smeets. 

Besides great sailing, the regatta is free for the boat owners and sailors, thanks to carefully cultivated sponsorship; there is no entry fee or damage deposit. On top of that, there are two free dinners and pizza for the awards ceremony. The amount of food and drink consumed was staggering: 250 pounds of pork loin, 125 free pizzas, 5 kegs of Heineken beer, 55 cases of soda and 800 Good Humor Ice Cream bars.

Schools that participated were: American University, Bates College, Bowdoin, Bucknell University, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Colgate, Denison, Drexel, Fordham University, Hamilton, Harvard, Maine Maritime Academy, Maryland, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Miami University of Ohio, University of Michigan, Monmouth University, U.S. Naval Academy, University of New Hampshire, Northeastern, Ohio State, University of Ottawa, Purdue, Queens University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Rhode Island, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Stevens Institute of Technology, SUNY at Stony Brook, SUNY Maritime, Tufts, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Villanova, Webb Institute, University of Western Michigan, Williams College, William and Mary, Wisconsin and Yale.

In 2012, the IOR was made possible by sponsorship from: Rolex, Vineyard Vines, Safe Flight Instruments, Dimension/Polyant Sailcloth, Brewer Yacht Yards, Flintlock Construction, J/Boats, UK Sailmakers, Gill, Clarion Partners and Yacht Scoring.

The Storm Trysail Foundation and Larchmont Yacht Club extend their sincerest thanks to the regatta’s sponsors, boat owners, volunteers and Event Chairman Adam Loory, a Storm Trysail Club member and IOR alumnus, without whom this sailing opportunity would not be possible for many college sailors.

The Storm Trysail Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to support the education of young sailors,  junior safety at sea, and intercollegiate big boat racing. The Storm Trysail Foundation 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.

For more information, contact Pier Witek, info@stormtrysailfoundation.org

See Yacht Racing - regattas images

Quotes from the Boats (emails):

“Again, what an amazing weekend at the IOR! We had SUCH a great time! American University would definitely love to participate again next year, so let us know how/when we sign up.”  -- Lisa Gabrielson.

“We had two goals going into the weekend: 1) Finish on the top half of the fleet, and 2) Beat U of Michigan. The team is ecstatic about accomplishing both of these goals, and we could not have done it without the help of Tim Longo and Adam Loory. We appreciate all of the organizing you do for the event, but more so the time, effort, and extreme patience you had with helping the team learn to sail the boat fast. These are experiences that the team, myself especially, will remember for a very long time. We look forward to competing with you, or against you ;), at next year’s event.” -- Mike Niacaris, University of Western Michigan Sailing Team Commodore.

“Congratulations on a very successful regatta!  It was really a privilege to participate. Thanks for all your efforts to introduce young sailors to big boats, and let them have fun doing it.” -- Halsey Bullen, part-owner of the Express 37 Expresso, which was sailed by University of Ottawa.

“Thanks for matching me up with the team from KP. They were fine, willing and capable learners and we got on very well. Their coach York is a great guy. Sent an email to their commander complimenting them.” -- Gerard Koeppel, owner of the C&C 115 Constance.

“Once more please accept my thanks for letting me be a part of that terrific regatta this past weekend. What a fitting way to depart Newport and Long Island Sound for home!”  -- Paul Milo, owner of the J/109 Vento Solare.

“It is a fantastic event that I only hear the highest appraisals of from everyone that knows about it. Thanks for doing it.”  -- Kenneth Madsen, Vice President of Dimension/Polyant Sailcloth (a regatta sponsor)..

'Barby Macgowan'

See Yacht Racing - regattas images

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 October 2012 )