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Storm Trysail Foundation Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta wrap up

by Ronald Weiss 11 Oct 2018 12:10 PDT 6-7 October 2018
The U.S. Naval Academy shows good form on their way to winning the J/44 Class and the James D. Bishop Trophy on STC member Bill Ketcham's Maxine © Howie McMichael

The Storm Trysail Foundation's 2018 Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) enjoyed reasonably good sailing conditions this weekend. 47 teams sailed the regatta on offshore/big boats that are generously provided to the event for the two day series. Conditions were gray and misty but with winds that, albeit shifty, were generally 6 – 10 knots. Five races were held with three on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Deputy Race Officer Ray Redniss of the Storm Trysail Club (STC) described the conditions. "The wind was solid enough that the racing was close in almost every race, but it wasn't blowing so hard that the less experienced teams had too much difficulty. Most of the starts were very competitive, especially considering that we have many teams that are primarily dinghy squads which have to learn the physics of big offshore boats, which are very different to say the least."

College of Charleston (South Carolina) took home the Paul Hoffmann Trophy as the Overall Winner, and was presented the trophy by Paul "Binky" Hoffmann, Jr., son of the longtime STC member for which the trophy is named. They also won the Corinthian's Foster Tallman Trophy as the winner of Class 5. Charleston's team was mostly new to the event and sailing Young American (owned by the Young American Sailing Academy/YASA) in the J/105 class – the biggest class in the fleet. William Hundall (Senior, Computer Information Systems), a co-captain, explained their approach to victory.

"Coming here to Long Island Sound, you have to look for the pressure. Our team takes detailed notes every year and we pass that down to the next year's group. Sometimes though, during hurricane season, just getting here from Charleston can be an adventure by itself! It's a real team sport, and very much a mental game, staying focused when things are going awry." Frances Schulte (Senior, Communications) the other co-captain, gave her take on the experience.

"We've learned that you have to work through disagreements, that's huge." William went on to compliment the race management. "This is a spectacular event, very well run and it's a great group of schools to sail against."

All but one of the Charleston team have sailed together as part of YASA on Gambler in the Newport-Bermuda Race, the Ida Lewis Distance Race, and the Vineyard Race, but only one - Key Becker (son of YASA co-founder Peter Becker) had ever sailed on a J/105 before. Peter accepted the Ed du Moulin Trophy, which goes to the owner of the boat that wins the Hoffmann trophy. The trophy was presented by Ed's son, STC member Rich du Moulin.

The J/44 class is traditionally sailed by Academy teams. This year the winner of the class, the United States Naval Academy, was awarded the James D. Bishop Trophy, named after the longtime STC member and supporter of the J/44 class who passed away earlier this year.

In addition, they scored the Larchmont YC's Thomas Carroll Trophy as the winner of Class 1. Navy raced Maxine, owned by STC member Bill Ketcham. Team Captain George Davis – a Junior majoring in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and who plans on being in the reactor room on an aircraft carrier after graduation – talked about how the experience of offshore sailing applies to being in the Navy.

"Our squad came in with a lot of high-powered experience from racing our TP52 Hooligan, and from racing our Ker 50 Wahoo (ex-Snow Lion, donated to the Academy by STC member Lawrence Huntington). The Academy teaches "Small Unit Leadership" and races like these and the offshore races like Newport-Bermuda give us real world training that is like life in the Navy; the leadership lessons are not just sailing specific."

The team from Michigan Tech gave the owner of the Swan 42 Quintessence - STC member Roger Widmann – a birthday present with a win in PHRF Class 1 and the Corinthian's George Crocker Trophy. Co-Captain Nick Irwin (Senior, Mechanical Engineering) has been to the IOR three times before.

"This is the first time we've won but we got third twice before this. The crew was outstanding, great teamwork. Several of our crew were dinghy sailors and the big surprise for them is how powerful these boats are and how fast they can go. The dinghy sailors usually try to pull lines by hand, but realize pretty quickly you just can't do that." Gabrielle Gentz (Sophomore, a Business major, and the tactician for the team) concurs.

"There are so many working parts, a million lines and things to handle. For dinghy sailors, it's a baptism by fire. I've been racing my own Ensign in a one-design fleet in Harbor Springs for four years. It's a small boat, but it's like a small big-boat and that helped me a lot."

Frank Loughran of Fordham University – a Senior and History major– made history himself by leading Fordham to victory in their first-ever IOR, taking first in PHRF Class 2 and the Corinthian's Edward Moore Trophy on the J/124 Tenebrae.

"I sail on Tenebrae fairly often, which is advantageous. I'm the bowman, but the rest of the team were all new to the boat with absolutely no real offshore experience. I know the boat and three other sailors have decent big boat experience, but the rest were all dinghy sailors. It's a big adjustment, a steep learning curve. The guy running pit probably had the hardest job. We had to chat a lot to coordinate." The pit man – Scott McKenzie – is primarily a dinghy skipper.

"This was my first time actually seriously racing on a big boat. It was a little hectic at first and the expectations were high, but after some practice everyone got the hang of their role. Teamwork is very definitely different from dinghies because you all have separate roles. Knowing your job and where you fit in with the others is critical."

The Tufts Jumbos won the tough J/109 Class 3 and the Corinthian's James Jacobson Trophy on Freedom. Captain Bo Eaves (Freshman, Mechanical Engineering) is the son of the boat's owner, Corey Eaves. This was his first time competing, but in an unusual set of circumstances, Bo had been to the IOR once before as the Owner's Rep. This year he was both a competitor AND the Owner's Rep.

"Yeah, that was kind of an interesting thing, being both. We had to focus on connecting the dots upwind, sailing from pressure to pressure. Not tacking on every little shift but staying in the breeze was really important. We also had to do a lot of teaching [to less experienced crew members] while we were racing, which is hard."

Matt Galbraith (Sophomore, Quantitative Economics major and no relation to the famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith) talked about their winning approach. "Consistency of good starts, conservative starts with clean lanes. We had mostly middle-pin starts, and we were usually bow out at the gun." Tufts had two teams at the IOR, and it was the younger team that won. Bo admitted "Yeah, there is an intra-team rivalry. We won't let them forget we won! Can't wait for next year."

Villanova, racing on STC member Iris Vogel's J/88 Deviation, took the top spot in PHRF 2. "We are a fairly inexperienced team, " explains team captain Harrison Paige (Senior, Mechanical Engineering). "We held a lot of chalk talks, practiced hard and really developed ourselves as a club team – we have one club team for both dinghies and big-boat sailing. Big boat sailing is kind of daunting at first, but once you get past the initial scariness factor you realize it's just a big dinghy and all the things you learn about dinghies – weight placement, sail trim, etc. – still apply. And once you put the focus and energy into it, the performance comes out."

Butch Ulmer, the IOR event Chair and Principal Race Officer, was enthusiastic about this year's regatta. "This event is a lot of work, especially because we have to find owners who are willing to loan their boats to the college teams. That's always a big challenge, and I'd like to thank each of the owners for their generosity and their time. I hope that next year we can expand the event even more; the limiting factor is not the number of colleges that are interested, it's not having additional boats. So if you own a boat, or know someone who might be interested, please let us know if you'd like the support the event next year. I also have to thank the innumerable volunteers, both on and off the race course who help make this the world-class event that it is."

The Storm Trysail Foundation would also like to thank the following sponsors, without whom this regatta would not be possible: ShopRite of Carteret, Helly Hansen, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Yacht and Boat Donation Program, Flintlock Construction, USMMA Sailing Foundation, Dimension-Polyant, Gifted of Larchmont, Safe Flight Instrument Corporation, Corinthians, UK Sailmakers, Craft NY, New England Ropes, Coca-Cola, and YachtScoring. In addition, we'd like to thank the following for their personal donations: The Paul Hoffmann Family, Paul Gilman, Barry Gold, Luiz Kahl, Chris Lewis, and Doug Lynn.

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