Maine Maritime’s sailing team coach Tom Brown decided to pull his team out of all of its dinghy events Columbus Day weekend so that it could instead sail big boats at the Storm Trysail Foundation’s Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) Presented by Prestige BMW.
After driving over eight hours with his 17 athletes, Brown’s strategy paid off, as the team won two of five divisions in the 38-boat fleet. Over 300 sailors from 30 schools participated, making the IOR the largest college sailing regatta in the country.
The regatta is run by the Storm Trysail Foundation and the Larchmont Yacht Club, both of which are dedicated to helping the next generation of sailors become better and safer sailors.
Maine Maritime won the seven-boat J/44 one-design division and the eight-boat J/109 one-design division. Other winners were the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., which won the IRC 40 handicap division as well as the 11-boat J/105 division, and Tufts University, which won the six-boat IRC 35 handicap division. The Paul Hoffman Trophy for the overall winner went to the Kings Point team sailing Damian Emery’s J/105 Eclipse. Emery won the Edward du Moulin Trophy for the boat that was sailed by winning team.
The Weather Gods smiled this year, offering sunny skies and breezes that built from 10 knots for the first race to 15-20 knots for the subsequent races on both days. The race organizers worked hard to put together one-design and closely-rated divisions to keep the racing tight, and PRO Butch Ulmer ran seven races in two days. 'The student sailors were some of the best we have seen in the ten years that STC has been running this event,' said Paul Hoffman who ran the windward mark boat. 'Racing was so close that three of the divisions ended up tied for first after seven races. More than once, practically the whole J/109 fleet rounded the marks en masse.'
Maine’s Coach Tom Brown said, 'I have never seen so many smiles. Our team was so stoked that they stayed awake talking about the racing for the eight-hour drive back to Castine. When I got back to school, I had a congratulatory note from the President of the school. They take big boat sailing seriously here. We will be back next year, and we hope to have the same boats again.'
The purpose of the regatta is two-fold: to introduce dinghy sailors to the team work and fun of big-boat racing and to provide a chance for experienced big boat sailors to have a chance to compete in well-prepared evenly-matched boats. Unlike other collegiate regattas, the boats are privately owned and the boat owners sail with the student sailors as coaches and safety officers. The regatta is not possible without the boat owners who lend their boats and time in order help educate the next generation of offshore racers.
Dr. Carl Olsson, who has lent his J/105 Morning Glory to his alma mater Bowdoin for the last eight years and who will be Larchmont Yacht Club’s Commodore next year, pledged to help the regatta grow significantly under his watch. 'I believe that this regatta is so important that we will grow the event from 300 sailors to 500 in the next two years.' To help meet this goal, the Storm Trysail Foundation funds educational events like the IOR and its junior safety at sea seminars across the country.
'Everyone who participates in this regatta has a great time,' said Regatta Chair Adam Loory. 'Both college sailors and boat owners tell me that this is the most fun regatta that they sail in all year. The boat owners get to go sailing without having to make a week’s worth of phone calls to round up crew, the kids get to sail on some of the most competitive boats around, and the whole event is free thanks to the sponsors who help support the regatta.' Corporate sponsorship came from Prestige BMW, Rolex, Vineyard Vines, Safe Flight Instruments, Caithness Energy, UK-Halsey Sailmakers, Gill, Coca Cola and Heineken.
Jim Marran and Gerard Girstl, the owner’s representatives on the Express 37 Soulmates for the last 10 years, coached a very green team from Denison University from central Ohio this year. 'It was amazing how fast the crew went from not being able to tack the boat to winning the last two races. They were like sponges; most of the crew had never sailed on a boat with a spinnaker before this,' said Marran. After the regatta, Denison’s team captain Will Jaquinde said, 'Thank you for the opportunity we won’t soon forget. We can’t wait for next year.'
For full results, a list of competing schools and photos, visit: http://www.stormtrysailfoundation.org/intercollegiate.htm