Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta preview

STFIOR - Storm Trysail Foundation Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta
The Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, organized by the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club, has grown to become the largest college sailing event in the country thanks to the support of Long Island Sound boat owners.

Over 300 collegiate sailors raced on nearly 40 offshore boats in 2010. The regatta introduces college sailors to the challenge and teamwork of big boat racing and gives them a chance to race evenly-matched boats. This weekend, Oct. 8-9, 2011, 47 boats will be sailed by 400 collegiate sailors making the regatta the largest college sailing event in the world.

The purpose of the regatta is two-fold: to introduce dinghy sailors to the team work and fun of big-boat racing as well as to provide a chance for experienced big boat sailors to have a place to race. As in the past, there will be five divisions: 15 J/105s, eight J/109s, five IRC 35s, 12 IRC 40s and seven J/44s. The regatta uses one-design or closely-rated divisions so that the skills of big boat racing can be taught without burdening the uninitiated with the machinations of ratings.

The Storm Trysail Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization, and Larchmont Yacht Club raise enough sponsorship to make this regatta totally free for the college sailors as well as boat owners. There is no entry fee of damage deposit.

MaineMaritimeJ109 STFIOR - Storm Trysail Foundation Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta

Teams are coming from Canada, the west coast, the midwest, northeast and the mid Atlantic states. In all 38 schools will be represented, with some bringing multiple teams. To see the regatta’s scratch sheet, go to the regatta’s site at yachtscoring.com or use this direct link.

The regatta does not look for boat owners to give their boats to a college team. In the IOR, the owners sail with the teams as a safety officer and as a coach. Each boat has a second coach aboard who can be one of the boat’s regular crewmembers or someone appointed by the regatta organizers. The adults are free to teach boathandling, sail trim and safety, but we ask that they let the kids call their own tactics.

Everything about big boats can be new to dinghy sailors, but tactics are universal. The boat owner is still the skipper of record and we make it clear to the students that if the owner ever feels that something unsafe could happen, the owner is free to take the helm or to give a command to change course.

The regatta gives back as much as the boat owners give. It is a great way to forge a bond with their alma mater’s sailing team or the team of their children. Some boat owners have requested schools that their children are considering attending so that they can have a more fun interview. Many boat owners have used the regatta to grow their crew pool.

The URI Sailing Team took first place overall at the 2009 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta held at Larchmont Yacht Club over Columbus Day Weekend

The knowledge exchange is not a one-way street. Richard du Moulin, a four-time winner of the doublehanded division of the Newport to Bermuda Race, sailed with the team from University of Rhode Island in 2008, the same year he had converted his Express 37 Lora Ann to a sprit-boat.

'Jesse Fielding was skipper with a very sharp crew including Robbie Kane. Jesse and Robbie were ‘graduates’ of Roy Disney’s Morning Light TransPac race program and had trained the URI crew well. In previous years, I would advise the college sailors how to trim sails, execute spinnaker maneuvers, and practice safe and sound seamanship. With the URI team, perhaps my advice about upwind sailing technique was useful. However when it came to downwind sailing with my big asymmetric chute on the sprit, I shut my mouth and began taking notes. These guys had practiced jibing a Transpac 52 and threw Lora Ann into roll-jibes that would have given my regular crew of old farts whiplash.'

Watching the racing, it is clear that many of the college sailors are very proficient big boat sailors. The racing is always close. In 2010, three of the five divisions had ties for first place -- after six races. The regatta’s PRO Butch Ulmer runs six four-leg windward-leeward races in a limited amount of time. His committee can reposition the windward mark, while starting and finishing different classes. Races go on in all conditions; to keep things safe for the boats and the collegiate sailors, the race committee has the ability to restrict the use of spinnakers.

Thanks to the financial resources of the Storm Trysail Foundation, we were able to cover the cost of sail repairs and broken equipment in 2010.

The regatta traces its roots back to 1970, when The Corinthians created the Intercollegiate Regatta and ran it until 1999. At that time, Adam Loory was the Corinthians’ regatta chairman as well as a new member of STC. When Butch Ulmer heard about The Corinthians’ abandonment of the regatta, he worked to get the STC to take over the regatta.

In 2001, the first year that STC ran the regatta, there were nine boats and the regatta has grown thanks to the support of the STC and Larchmont Yacht Club, where the regatta found a home in 2004. Since then, Larchmont YC has become a co-organizer and the Storm Trysail Club created a charitable foundation to support their educational efforts like the IOR and its junior safety at sea seminars. For information on the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta, contact Adam Loory at: mailto:adam@ukhalsey.com or contact the Storm Trysail Foundation’s office at: 914-834-8857.

Storm Trysail Foundation website